Are Narcissism And Depression Connected?

By Michael Puskar|Updated August 17, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Lauren Guilbeault, LMHC

In psychology and mental-health related circles, both narcissism and depression are regarded as pretty unhealthy states of existence. While narcissism and depression each have their causations and problems, questions can be raised about whether or not the two are connected. After all, both narcissism and depression are unhealthy - likewise, narcissism and depression each impact an individual's mental and emotional wellbeing. When taken to very extreme levels, narcissism and depression can both impede an individual's ability to function in the real world successfully.

If You're Struggling With Narcissism Or Depression, We Can Help

However, to understand the connections between narcissism and depression, it is first imperative to know these two entities separately.

An Overview Of Narcissism

The Mayo Clinic describes narcissistic personality disorder as a “mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.”  In many cases, individuals who experience narcissism also have various traits that are indicative of this behavior, such as arrogance, impatience, and the need to gain the approval of others. Narcissism also tends to manifest in the form of thinking that one is entitled to special treatment, which is not deserved by others around them. In many cases, narcissists tend to try to prove that they are better than and superior to others around them.

Can Narcissism Be Cured Or Treated?

At this time, there is no one precise cure or treatment for narcissism. Unlike other mental health issues, narcissism is a difficult challenge to treat. This is because narcissists typically do not believe they need treatment and can therefore not be aided. One of the foundations of any help or treatment is that the patient must be willing to improve and better themselves to overcome their condition. Even the best doctors in the world cannot help a person who is genuinely unwilling to be helped.

An Overview Of Depression

Depression is defined by the Mayo Clinic as "a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest." Individuals who struggle with depression often experience mental, emotional, and even physical impacts. This can impede their ability to function in day-to-day life and enjoy basic pleasures, such as workplace satisfaction and healthy relationships with others around them. Over the past few years, depression has been given more and more attention, thus allowing for this mood disorder to carry less of a stigma.

Symptoms

There is a plethora of symptoms associated with depression. These symptoms have the power to impact a struggling person across the board. In many cases, depressive symptoms include, but are certainly not limited to, self-loathing, emotional outbursts, insomnia, notable fluctuations in weight, and so much more. The longer someone deals with depression and lacks access to the proper treatment, the more dangerous it can become. Back pains, headaches, inability to concentrate, and even thoughts of suicide are additional symptoms which are associated with depression.

“If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 and is available 24/7.”

Treatment

In most cases, treatment for depression ultimately boils down to therapy or medication. Sometimes, a combination of both therapy and medication can prove to be beneficial for those who are going through depression. During therapy sessions, patients will work with a specialist who gets to know them and understand their situation. In turn, this allows the therapist to use their professional judgment to determine the root of the depression and what ought to happen next. For therapy to help a patient overcome depression, they have to be receptive to feedback and willing to accept the advice of the therapist.

Medication for depression can vary depending upon a variety of circumstances. While many people do benefit from this form of treatment, it's important to understand that medication should only be prescribed by a licensed doctor. Under no circumstances should someone who is not a licensed doctor attempt to self-medicate or provide medicine to someone who is going through depression. There are so many ways in which that can make a bad situation even worse.

The Connection Between Narcissism And Depression

Both narcissism and depression are not healthy emotional/mental states of well-being, and they are not conducive to any individual's long-term success or happiness in life. A person who experiences narcissism will eventually begin to self-sabotage as will an individual who is dealing with depression.

Both narcissism and depression are clinical, serious health issues that require professional medical help to remedy them. However, it is typically easier to rehabilitate a depressed individual than a narcissist. Most people who experience depression are interested in improving themselves and making a change; however, the same cannot be said for those who are afflicted with narcissism.

Despite a few obvious contrasts between narcissism and depression, they still share certain commonalities. Understanding these commonalities is key to understanding the connection between narcissism and depression.

Low Self-Esteem

It's already been established that low self-esteem is a byproduct of depression. However, many people may also be shocked to learn that the majority of narcissists also experience low self-esteem. The only difference here is that narcissism is generally a front to mask the low self-esteem that lurks beneath the surface. This does not mean that every single narcissist experiences low self-esteem; however, it's not an uncommon affliction amongst narcissists.

If You're Struggling With Narcissism Or Depression, We Can Help

While low self-esteem may be more apparent in cases of depression (withdrawing from others, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, etc.), narcissism can often mask low self-esteem as notable overconfidence. However, the symptoms associated with narcissism are generally a tell for low self-esteem, especially when someone engages in these behaviors frequently. The behaviors in question include an excessive need for admiration, the compulsion to feel superior to others, and feelings of entitlement.

One could easily make the case that a person with true confidence and high self-esteem would not feel the need to seek out validation from others habitually. That's not usually the mark of a secure individual.

Damage To Interpersonal Relationships

Another connection between narcissism and depression exists in the form of damage to interpersonal relationships. In many cases of depression, individuals tend to isolate themselves, withdraw from activities they love, and otherwise behave in manners that are concerning to those around them. Believe it or not, not every person can recognize when someone is not acting like themselves because they are experiencing depression.

Narcissism also tends to erode personal relationships but in a different manner. In many cases, narcissists are not above lying, bullying, and cheating to get what they want in life. Many narcissists also believe that the rules are for other people and they can do whatever they want. Over time, as people begin to realize this, they'll lose interest in being in the company of an individual who views others and the world in this manner. When the damage to interpersonal relationships is done, it's quite typical for narcissists to point the finger and assign blame rather than looking at themselves.

Overall Take

The drawbacks associated with narcissism and depression are extremely well documented. Whether these impacts manifest in the form of low self-esteem or damage to relationships with others, both narcissism and depression can bring a certain level of toxicity. Both of these conditions indicate that there is an issue with someone's mental and emotional health. Both narcissism and depression can also become the new norm if an individual is not able to get the help they need.

At the end of the day, a person cannot truly and successfully function in society if they are dealing with extreme levels of narcissism or depression. There are many ways to hide the presence of these issues, but in extreme cases, that’s nearly impossible to hide in the long term. This is why getting help with either narcissism or depression is so significant. However, the willingness to receive help is what ultimately makes the greatest difference.

At The End Of The Day…

When someone is experiencing narcissism or depression, the best thing they can do is seek professional counsel and guidance. This can be helpful for any situations where someone is struggling, but it's especially significant in cases where mental health issues are present. When it's all said and done, nobody can force a narcissist or depressed individual to seek help. They have to want it for themselves, and they have to be receptive to the feedback and necessary changes that come along with self-betterment.

If you're struggling in any way, whether with narcissism, depression, or another matter and are interested in professional help, then you've come to the right place. BetterHelp online therapy has been proven to make a significant difference in people's lives, regardless of who they are or what they may be up against.

Plenty of research has looked at how effective online therapy is and, for depression particularly, the news is promising. For common treatments for major depression, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized disorder, online therapy has routinely been found to be just as effective as face-to-face therapy.

The same study went so far as to call online therapy “practical,” and it’s not hard to see why. Online therapy requires less motivation: no navigating traffic or finding a potentially far office. You can do online therapy from the comfort of your own home as long as you have a reliable internet connection. Many people who prefer online therapy also say they feel that being in their own home brings them a greater sense of privacy than being in a strange environment.

Here are reviews by recent BetterHelp users of the counselors they connected with:

“My experience with Destinee has been so valuable. She is down to earth and really takes time to listen and understand. She doesn’t just tell me what I want to hear and she is thoughtful in her response every time we talk/message. I am so grateful for her and this service.” Read more on

“Jo-Ann has been an absolutely amazing counsellor in every way! From the first session on, I felt completely comfortable to talk to her about everything and always felt heard, understood and well advised in everything. She has really helped me learn how to handle my depression and other issues in life better through listening, talking things through and equipping me with practical and applicable tools that I could use for the specific situations and issues. She has continually cheered me up, made me feel like she believes in me and has been so kind and caring, while not shying away from the more difficult questions, really getting me to look at things closer and discover the roots of my problems. I am incredibly grateful for having her as my counsellor and can wholeheartedly recommend her!” Read more on

As long as you are open and willing to hear what your therapist has to say, the sky is the limit. This does not mean that you will never have tough days or hard times. However, what you will have is a professional in your corner who can be there for you and provide guidance and feedback, which is necessary as you work to improve the quality of your life.

Commonly Asked Questions Below:

Is depression linked to narcissism?
What mental illness is associated with narcissism?
What is the root cause of narcissism?
Can a narcissist be a good person?
How does a narcissist treat his mother?
Do narcissists care about their family?
How does a narcissist make love?

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