While NPD and HPD do share some characteristics, the full extent of symptoms are very different. Treatment for both often includes professional support and medications.

Our personalities define a large part of who we are and fuel how we interact with ourselves and the world around us. For people with personality disorders, personality traits can have even more significant effects on one’s behaviors, relationships, and more.

Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are two similar disorders known as cluster B personality disorders. Emotional, dramatic, and erratic thoughts and behaviors characterize cluster B personality disorders.

While histrionic and narcissistic personalities share some traits, there are significant differences between the two. Ahead, we compare histrionic and narcissistic personalities and cover the differences and similarities in symptoms and treatment.

As cluster B personality disorders, HPD and NPD do share some traits. For example, people with these conditions can think and act in ways that are overly dramatic, emotional, and unexpected.

However, there are some notable differences between the clinical features that appear in these two conditions:

  • HPD involves emotionally erratic and excessive attention-seeking behavior, whether that attention is positive or negative.
  • NPD involves an overinflated view of oneself, a lack of empathy for others, and a desire for admiration and validation.

People with these personality disorders thrive on attention, but the major difference between the two conditions is the type of attention and reason for that attention.

People with NPD typically seek positive attention as a means to validate their sense of self-worth, and they tend to avoid negative attention or criticism.

People with HPD have a strong desire for any type of attention. They may sometimes use harmful behaviors to get it.

Attention-seeking behavior is just one aspect of HPD and NPD. Other symptoms of the conditions vary, and there’s a clinical distinction between the behaviors associated with HPD and NPD.

Histrionic personality disorder

HPD symptoms typically begin in early adulthood. Some of its most common behaviors include:

  • theatrical and dramatic expressions of emotion
  • appearing uncomfortable when not receiving attention
  • acting provocatively or inappropriately toward others
  • using physical appearance for attention-seeking
  • speaking vaguely or in an almost child-like fashion
  • following the influence of others more easily
  • holding an overly important view of relationships

Engaging in only one or two of these behaviors doesn’t mean someone definitely has HPD.

An HPD diagnosis requires someone to consistently engage in at least five of these behaviors, and these behaviors affect their functioning and relationships.

Narcissistic personality disorder

NPD also develops in early adulthood. Some of its defining behaviors include:

  • feeling an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • having an extreme sense of entitlement
  • acting arrogantly or superiorly toward others
  • seeking attention and admiration from others
  • fantasizing about things like success or power
  • taking advantage of others to meet their own goals
  • lacking the ability to show empathy toward others
  • feeling excessively jealous or envious of what others have

Occasionally displaying narcissistic traits doesn’t necessarily mean someone meets the diagnostic criteria for NPD.

Like HPD, a diagnosis of NPD also requires that a person consistently engages in at least five of these behaviors over a longer period of time.

What to do if you notice HPD or NPD behaviors

If you notice symptoms of HPD or NPD in yourself or a loved one, a licensed psychotherapist can help determine an official diagnosis and get you started on a treatment plan if one is needed.

Discover how to find a psychiatrist in this article, or learn more about getting a psychiatric evaluation for a loved one here.

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Treatment is similar for HPD and NPD. It typically includes therapy and medication.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is an effective treatment option for personality disorders like HPD and NPD.

Talk therapy can teach you more about how your condition affects your thoughts and feelings, and how those affect your behaviors. Over time, this can allow you to better manage your feelings and change the behaviors that are affecting your ability to function.

Several types of psychotherapy approaches exist, but some that may be helpful for HPD and NPD include:

Medication

There are no medications approved to specifically treat personality disorders, including HPD and NPD.

However, some medications can help address the symptoms of these disorders, like mood changes, impulsivity, or even anxiety.

Some of the most common medication options include:

Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) share some similar traits, especially when it comes to attention-seeking. However, there are major differences that distinguish them.

It can be difficult for people with a personality disorder to recognize they have one and may need help. But with the right support and treatment, it’s possible for a person with a personality disorder to improve their day-to-day life and relationships with others.