Symptoms Of Narcissism: What To Watch Out For

Updated October 6, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Individuals with narcissism may act a specific way, and some of the things they do will be rather obvious to pinpoint. Here is a look at the symptoms of narcissism and details on what to watch out for if you think you are a narcissist, or when you think someone around you may be suffering from this type of personality disorder.

A trained mental health professional can assess you or your loved one and diagnose your partner as having Narcissistic personality disorder. Identifying with this disorder should only come after a trained professional has given that diagnosis.

What Is Narcissism?

Want To Learn More About Identifying Narcissism?

Narcissism occurs when a person admires themselves to an unhealthy extent. They may think they are the most important person they know and that everything they do is impressive and important.

Narcissism can also be a symptom of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), which is written about in the Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders( DSM-5). This disorder is seen when someone is overconfident about his or her sense of self-importance, they need a great amount of admiration, and they have a lack of empathy for other people. Research has been done, which explains that a lack of empathy is not the most notable trait in all cases of NPD, but in many cases, it is the most obvious symptom.

How Is This Different From Having Healthy Self-esteem?

Someone narcissistic is not the same as someone that has a healthy self-esteem. For example, many people that have a healthy level of self-esteem are humble about themselves and their accomplishments.

People with narcissism are sure of all the things that they do, whether they are successful in them or not. Even the smallest of accomplishments deserve a pat on the back and praise for them. Also, they often think that they are the best at everything, regardless of what the subject is.

Who Is At Risk Of Having Narcissism?

There are a few groups of people that are more likely to develop narcissism than others are. These people include those that were neglected as children, as well as kids whose parents catered to their every whim. People that had parents who pushed unrealistic expectations on them when they were young are also at risk of having narcissism.

Some people may develop narcissism because of the people they spend time around or due to the life that they live.

What Are The Symptoms Of Narcissism?

Here are some of the most common symptoms associated with people with narcissism.

  • Have a desired to be recognized, no matter what they do
  • Act pretentious
  • Lack of empathy
  • Must have the best of everything, like clothes, car, and residence
  • Are envious
  • Unable to notice others’ needs and wants
  • May take advantage of people.
  • Expect you to bend over backward to help them.
  • Believe themselves to be very important.
  • Exaggerate things they have accomplished
  • Need constant admiration
  • Only want to be around certain people they deem to be superior to others.
  • Belittle people
  • Harbor feelings of shame and insecurity
  • Have a hard time making changes in their life

Many of these symptoms are the specific ones laid out for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

What To Watch Out For

People with narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) may not seek out help for these symptoms. However, if you are experiencing these symptoms and want help, there are options out there for you. A doctor can ask you a few questions to determine if you have this disorder. They can also rule out other types of disorders or physical issues, being able to determine if you are suffering from NPD or not. Once you can be diagnosed, a course of treatment can be enacted, reverse the disorder as much as possible.

You can also get help when you are feeling overwhelmed or have more stress than you should. These aspects can lead to health issues or may cause you to want to self medicate with drugs or alcohol, which isn’t ideal.

People with narcissism sometimes have issues in all areas of their life. They may experience problems when it comes to money, work, within relationships, and may even abuse certain drugs. This is something that you should watch out for.

If you notice that someone you love has these tendencies, you may want to seek out treatment for yourself, so that you can cope better. This is something you can talk about with your therapist, and they may be able to lend a hand when coming up with a plan to help your loved one.

Can Narcissism Be Prevented?

Not everything about narcissism is known, so there’s no way to know for sure if it can be prevented entirely. However, there are a few things you can do to keep it at bay, which might also be able to prevent certain symptoms from showing up.

Seek Treatment Early

If you feel you are displaying signs of NPD, you may want to opt for therapy as soon as you feel ready. This has the potential to help you be able to come to terms with your behaviors and past issues.

If you can, try to get the whole family involved. This may include you engaging in family therapy with your parents or with your kids, depending on where you are in life. When you utilize family therapy, everyone who has been impacted by NPD can be heard. The family unit can decide major issues that are being impacted, and what kind of changes they can make to better support the individual with NPD.

Lifestyle Changes

Besides just getting valuable treatment for NPD, you may want to address other mental health disorders you may have through treatment. This includes if you have problems with alcohol use or if you feel like you suffer from depression. A psychiatrist can do a full evaluation and assist you.

You also need to make sure that you follow the plan that is put in place for you, by your mental health professionals team, and take it slow. You don’t have to make changes overnight, remember that this can take time.

Exercise is a good way to improve your mood, and can also help you take the time to get your thoughts together. When you have too much stress or experience something stressful, it can be hard on your body and mind. You should take the time to relax when you can, even if it is just for a brief time. This might lessen your anxiety and help you move past periods of stress as well.

Treatment Options

Want To Learn More About Identifying Narcissism?

In terms of treating narcissism, there are a couple of ways that are utilized.

The first thing that you should look into is psychotherapy. There may be issues that you are experiencing when you are a narcissist that can be addressed through the use of talk therapy and other techniques that a psychiatrist or other mental health professional can attempt to teach you.

One study concluded that some people with narcissism would see few benefits through the use of therapy, since they may be unwilling to be treated for it. This is likely since you are unaware of some of the symptoms you are experiencing as a narcissist. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t get the help you need. When you want to make a change and address your mental health, therapy is a great option that you can take advantage of.

After you begin your therapy, you should be aware that the process can take a long time before you see the results you are seeking. This is to be expected and shouldn’t discourage you, since it may have also taken a long time for you to develop these behaviors.

In addition to the person that is being treated for narcissism, if you are a close friend or family that is affected by a narcissist’s behavior, there is help out there for you too. You can take advantage of online psychotherapy services, which will allow you to learn coping strategies and more. Consider using a service like BetterHelp for the therapy that you need.

Moreover, you may find that prescriptions can help alleviate some of the symptoms of narcissism as well. Again, this is something else to discuss with your doctor, who will be able to come up with a plan that can produce benefits when followed properly.


You can overcome narcissism and NPD, but it will likely take a lot of work. Take things one day at a time and remember that there are people out there willing to lend a hand. Once you are better, you can work on any relationships that you have damaged in the past as well. This can be something that really changes your life, so don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance when you feel like you need it.

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