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Histrionic personality disorder is characterized by an excessively dramatic demeanor and frequent attention-seeking behavior, usually to the point where it drastically interferes in a teen’s interactions with others. While histrionic personality disorder is more common in adults, older teens can also be diagnosed with the condition provided their symptoms differentiate themselves from narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder, which share many of the same basic traits.

Much like someone diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, teens with histrionic personality disorder always seek to be at the center of attention and feel uncomfortable when they aren’t. However, they are willing to play the fool or the victim to get attention. They may even go so far as to unwittingly slip into personas or dramatize events to shift focus onto themselves, while someone who would be classified as narcissistic wouldn’t want to accept being seen as weak, or given attention in the form of pity.

Another common hallmark of histrionic personality disorder is the frequent use of sexual provocation and seduction to get attention, to the point where the condition makes it hard to build any meaningful friendship with others, as they may often cross boundaries they shouldn’t. At Visions Treatment Centers, we aim to help teens understand why their condition is affecting their lives so negatively and help them identify better coping mechanisms while learning to separate normal behavior from behavior driven by a demand for attention.

Understanding Histrionic Personality Disorder

Histrionic personality disorder can be defined by a need for constant attention, a flair for the dramatic, and an exceptionally low threshold for boredom. While teens in general may seem impatient, this is pushed much further in cases of histrionic personality disorder. Teens with histrionic personality disorder are constantly seeking out novel experiences granting immediate satisfaction, and dislike not being at the center of every conversation they come across.

This deeply selfish and dramatic behavior, regardless of what role it manifests as, can be greatly damaging to any kind of long-term interpersonal relationship, and a teen with histrionic personality disorder may quickly burn through their contacts and find themselves engaging in impulsive or destructive behavior to cope. Some examples of characterizing behavior in teens with histrionic personality disorder include:

  • Often behaving inappropriately or seductively in most interactions with others
  • Often relying on shallow behavior or looks to gain quick attention
  • Emotional states and behavior shifts are inconsistent, except to draw attention
  • Behavior and storytelling are theatrical and exaggerated, own persona is self-dramatized
  • Often considers relationships to be further along/more intimate than they are
  • Easily influenced by friends, peer pressures, and social surroundings

Histrionic personality disorder is estimated to occur in roughly 1.8 percent of the population, and its onset is more common in young adults rather than children. If diagnosed in a younger teen, the characteristics and symptoms of the disorder must be present for more than one year.

Histrionic personality disorder can be difficult to identify and diagnose because most people with a personality disorder do not seek treatment, and some of the symptoms of histrionic personality disorder can be conflated with other personality disorders or mental health conditions. A thorough assessment from a specialist is needed for a proper diagnosis.


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    Teen Histrionic Personality Disorder Treatment

    Teen histrionic personality disorder treatment relies on intensive psychotherapy (or talk therapy) to identify the best therapeutic approach to help a teen understand why their behavior might be causing them harm, and how to better control it. Some of the treatments used here at Visions Treatment Centers includes:

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

    Cognitive behavioral therapy is aimed at helping teens identify and avoid harmful thoughts and behaviors. Cognitive behavioral therapy is based on the idea of being more conscious of one’s thoughts can directly affect behavior. Teens can work with therapists on a one-on-one basis or in a group, working through issues together to minimize harmful behavior and identify healthier coping mechanisms.

    Experiential Therapy

    Experiential therapies describe a variety of different experiences utilized within a therapeutic context, either to calm, or to instruct, or to make happy. Examples range from role playing and art therapy to guided imagery, re-enacting painful or difficult memories, and analyzing past behavior.

    The greatest challenge for many teens with histrionic personality disorder is following a routine. For treatment to work, it must be consistent and long-term. Consistency and long-term programs are especially difficult for anyone with symptoms of histrionic personality disorder. Specialists at Visions work with teens to keep treatment interesting and coordinate with parents and friends to ensure long-term support is provided despite potential setbacks.