Signs and Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder

Signs and Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

According to the CDC, “1 in 5 Americans will experience mental illness in a given year.”[1] Most people are aware of common mental health issues, like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, other mental health concerns are less discussed.

Personality disorders are a type of mental health condition that causes you to have an unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning, and behaving. People with personality disorders often have difficulty perceiving and relating to people and situations. This can lead to an array of issues, including strained relationships, social isolation, and even executive dysfunction.

There are several types of personality disorders, separated and grouped under three different groups: clusters A, B, and C. One of the most common personality disorders is known as a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). This disorder falls under the cluster B group, which is characterized by dramatic and erratic behavior.

If you or a loved one suspect you are suffering from NPD, being aware of the symptoms and treatment associated with this disorder can allow you to get the help you need.

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?

A narcissistic personality disorder is a mental health condition that causes individuals to experience an inflated sense of self, a deep need for attention or admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. While people with this illness display great confidence, they tend to struggle with fragile self-esteem that is vulnerable to even slight criticism.

Because of the way that NPD affects a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, they often deal with problems in many areas of their lives, including at home, work, and school. If you struggle with this condition, you may find your personal relationships unfulfilling and find that other people do not enjoy being around you. Thankfully, a combination of evidence-based therapy and medication can help you manage your condition and repair any personal relationships that may have been affected.

According to the National Library of Medicine, the lifetime prevalence of narcissistic personality disorder is 6.2%. Additionally, this condition is more common among men, with 7.7% being affected by NPD compared to 4.8% of women.[2]

Signs and Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic personality disorder is heavily stigmatized due to media portrayals of people with the disorder. While people with this condition have the potential to be emotionally abusive, not everyone with NPD is a dangerous person. Typically, people with NPD behave with superiority because of intense self-esteem issues and a desire to be adored.

The common signs and behavioral traits of NPD include:

  • An exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Feeling a sense of entitlement for constant and excessive admiration
  • Expecting to be recognized as superior even when their actions do not warrant that
  • Obsession with power, beauty, success, or brilliance
  • Only wanting to be associated with “special” people
  • Belittling others or looking down on them
  • Expectations of special favors and unquestioning compliance
  • Taking advantage of others to get what they want
  • Being unable to recognize the needs and emotions of those around them
  • Being envious of others and believing others are envious of them
  • Behavior that comes off as arrogant, conceited, or boastful
  • Extreme difficulty handling criticism (perceived or real)+

How is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) Treated?

Narcissistic personality disorder can be treated successfully through a combination of therapeutic tactics. One of the barriers to treatment for NPD is an inability to recognize the mental disorder in yourself. Because of the belief of superiority and the inability to accept criticism, people with NPD may resist a loved one’s pleas to seek professional help.

However, over time, the chaos and dysfunction in their lives will lead them to therapy. Typically, people with NPD seek treatment for other issues, such as depression or anxiety. This helps them get connected with mental health experts who can properly diagnose and treat them for their NPD.

Long-Term Counseling

Therapy and counseling is the primary treatment for narcissistic personality disorder. Most people benefit greatly from a combination of individual, group, and family therapy, as this allows them to experience healing in various settings. Individual therapy allows them to work on personal issues one-on-one with a therapist, group counseling allows them to connect with others facing similar issues, and family therapy allows them to repair relationships with their families.

During therapy for NPD, therapists are careful not to directly attack the condition itself, as it is embedded into your personality. Instead, they work with you to help you alleviate attitudes and behaviors that cause stress, conflict, or dissatisfaction in your life.

The client-therapist relationship is extremely important during therapy, as people with NPD are often resistant to change. Because of this, therapists prioritize creating a relationship based on trust and mutual respect.


In addition to counseling, you may be provided with medications during your treatment for NPD. While medication does not improve narcissistic personality disorder specifically, it may help treat some of the symptoms that cause distress in your life.

For example, anti-depressants are often used to treat symptoms of depression or anxiety. If you suffer from mood swings, your psychiatrist may provide you with a mood stabilizer or antipsychotic.

It is important to note that medication is not always necessary during treatment for NPD. Your need for pharmacological treatment will be assessed on an individual basis. Oftentimes, counseling and therapy are enough to help you learn how to manage your condition and live a fulfilling life.

Find Help for Narcissistic Personality Disorder Today

If you or a loved one suffer from a narcissistic personality disorder, recovery is possible. While living with this condition can be extremely difficult and the stigma surrounding it does not make it any easier, professional mental health rehab programs can help you gain the support and tools you need to improve your quality of life.

To learn more about our mental health treatment program, contact Florida Recovery Group today.