Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance and an extreme need for admiration. Those with the disorder firmly believe they are superior to others and can be manipulative and exploitative in order to get their way. Though NPD can be difficult to diagnose, it affects approximately 6% of adults in the United States. Let’s take a closer look at NPD and how it manifests itself in people’s lives.

What are the Symptoms?

The DSM-5 lists nine criteria for diagnosing NPD. These criteria include having an exaggerated sense of self-importance; an intense need for admiration; a disproportionate sense of entitlement; preoccupation with fantasies of success, beauty, power, intelligence or ideal love; belief that one is special or unique; a need for excessive admiration from others; exploitative behavior toward others; lack of empathy; and frequent envy and jealousy towards others.

It is important to note that not everyone who displays these symptoms has NPD—some people may simply have narcissistic traits without having the full disorder. It is also important to recognize that there are two different types of narcissism: grandiose narcissism and vulnerable narcissism. Grandiose narcissists have an inflated sense of self-importance whereas vulnerable narcissists feel inadequate about themselves but still crave attention from others.

Diagnosing NPD

Diagnosing NPD requires a comprehensive evaluation by a trained mental health professional. During the assessment process, your clinician will ask questions about your current symptoms and history of mental health issues. They may also ask you to complete one or more psychological tests designed to assess your level of narcissism. In addition, they will typically review records from any past treatments you’ve had related to NPD or other mental health conditions. 

Once the assessment is complete, your clinician will use all available information to determine whether you meet the criteria for diagnosis under the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). 

Generally speaking, in order to be diagnosed with NPD, you must display at least five of the following traits: grandiose behavior; needing constant admiration; having an exaggerated sense of entitlement; being manipulative; having little regard for other people’s feelings; taking advantage of others; having difficulty maintaining meaningful relationships; displaying arrogance or haughtiness; feeling envious or jealous of others; exploiting others for personal gain. 

Treatment Options For NPD

Treatment options for narcissistic personality disorder typically involve psychotherapy sessions with a qualified mental health professional, medication, and Alternative Treatments such as yoga, meditation, art therapy, and mindfulness training.


The most common form of treatment for NPD is psychotherapy. This type of therapy typically involves cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), which helps patients change their negative thought patterns and behaviors. CBT helps them become more aware of how their behavior affects others as well as how they can improve communication with others. 

This type of therapy also focuses on developing healthy coping skills that can be used in situations where the patient feels overwhelmed or out of control. It is important to note that psychotherapy may take time to see results, but it is often very effective in helping individuals with NPD manage their condition.


In some cases, medication may be prescribed in addition to psychotherapy to help treat the symptoms of NPD. Generally speaking, medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly used for this purpose as they help regulate moods and emotions. It is important to note that medications should always be taken under the supervision of a healthcare provider and should not be used as a substitute for psychotherapy or other forms of treatment.

Alternative Treatments

In addition to traditional treatments, alternative therapies such as yoga, meditation, art therapy, and mindfulness training may also be beneficial for individuals dealing with NPD. These treatments can help promote relaxation and reduce stress levels, which can often exacerbate the symptoms associated with this disorder. Additionally, these alternative therapies provide an outlet through which people can express themselves without fear or judgment, which can help them gain insight into their own behaviors and feelings.

In conclusion, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a complex mental health condition that can have significant impacts on an individual’s life if left untreated. It is important for those affected by it—as well as their family members—to understand the signs, symptoms, possible causes, and treatment options available so they can make informed decisions about their care plan going forward. 

With proper education about the disorder and support from family members or professionals trained in treating it, individuals living with NPD can learn coping skills that will help them live healthier lives in spite of the challenges associated with this condition.

By Erica Buteau

Change Agent. Daydream Believer. Maker. Creative. Likes love, peace and Jeeping. Dislikes winter, paper cuts and war. She/Her/Hers.

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