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7 Effects of Narcissistic Abuse on Anxiety

Updated: Feb 17


Adult woman with both of her hands on her head

Narcissistic abuse can have a devastating psychological impact. Including long-term effects on mental health. The psychological impact of narcissistic abuse correlates with anxiety, depression, self-doubt, and fear. Anxiety is common for survivors of narcissistic abuse. In this blog post, we will discuss the various ways narcissistic abuse can affect anxiety. Also, four ways to manage that anxiety.



Narcissistic abuse is a form of psychological manipulation. This type of abuse involves the use of various tactics to control and manipulate someone. Through repeated humiliation and criticism, victims feel insecure and worthless. They also cannot trust others. At times, these feelings can lead to panic attacks and other anxiety-related disorders.


Effects of Narcissistic Abuse on Anxiety


The following traits contribute to the effects of narcissistic abuse on anxiety. Those narcissistic traits are:

  • grandiose sense of self-importance

  • preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

  • the belief that they are special and unique

  • desire to only associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions

  • need for excessive admiration

  • sense of entitlement

  • exploitative of others

  • lack of empathy

  • emotional dysregulation

  • envy of others or a belief that others are envious of them

  • arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes

Note: having one or some of these traits doesn't mean someone is a narcissist. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a clinical diagnosis by a licensed mental health professional.


If someone had the above traits and treated the people around them with love and respect, great! Have at it, and love yourself! Unfortunately, the way these traits show up is often harmful. Grandiosity, lack of empathy, and entitlement show up as criticism and control.


human figure behind an opaque glass

Interacting with a person with narcissistic traits has devastating effects on mental health. Behaviors such as manipulation, gaslighting, and hypercriticism can wear down the receiver's esteem. Self-doubt and uncertainty increase the frequency and intensity of anxiety.



Narcissistic abuse is emotional abuse that can cause significant anxiety and distress. It is a tactic used by narcissists to control and exploit, for their benefit. Often to gain power or influence over them. Narcissistic abuse can range from subtle tactics like gaslighting. To more extreme forms like verbal abuse and control. People may not even realize it is happening until it is too late.


Narcissist manipulation is a malicious form of abuse. Manipulation is the use of tactics like guilt, fear, and criticism. To control another person's thoughts or behavior. The effects of the narcissist's manipulation include increased anxiety and feelings of helplessness.


Gaslighting is a form of narcissistic abuse. Gaslighting causes the victim to doubt their sense of reality. It is used by narcissists to control people. Gaslighting is insidious and can leave people feeling confused, anxious, and disempowered. Because the abuser manipulates them into questioning their judgment and memory. Gaslighting can cause long-term damage if left unchecked. Gaslighting can occur in any kind of relationship, romantic, familial, or even professional.



Adult woman with dark hair, walking in a parking garage looking scared

Anxiety can be debilitating and hard to manage when associated with narcissistic abuse. Anxiety can be a common experience for those who have been in a relationship with a narcissist. Anxiety can interfere with day-to-day functioning and become disruptive to daily life. For those struggling with anxiety, there are ways to cope with it to gain a sense of control and reduce distress.



Seek support. Join a support group or talk to a therapist who specializes in narcissistic abuse. It is important to have a safe space to process and validate your experiences. Speak with a therapist who can help with your anxiety. With them, you can develop coping strategies. To navigate both the anxiety and the relationship with the narcissist.

Educate yourself. Learn about narcissism and the tactics narcissists use to control and manipulate others. Understand the dynamics of the abuse. This can help you make sense of what has happened and regain a sense of control.


Practice self-care. Make sure to take care of your physical and emotional well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy. Prioritize yourself and practice meditation and mindfulness.


Set boundaries. Learn to set and maintain healthy boundaries with yourself about the narcissist. Also with anyone else in your life who may be enabling their behavior.


Adult woman doing yoga by a pool

Practice relaxation techniques. Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga. These can help to calm the body and mind and reduce feelings of anxiety.


Engage in regular exercise. Regular physical activity can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety by releasing endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that improve mood and reduce stress.


Make lifestyle changes. Understand the connection between your anxiety symptoms and your relationship with the narcissist. Adopting a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep, can all help to reduce anxiety. and improve well-being.


In conclusion


Healing from narcissistic abuse and the associated anxiety is possible. It takes time and patience. With the right support and resources, it is possible to move forward and reclaim your life. Coping with anxiety and narcissistic abuse can be a difficult journey. But it is not impossible. It is important to remember that you are not alone. It may take time, but with patience and effort, you can heal from your past experiences and move forward.


About the Author 



Debra Dantzler, Ph.D., LPC smiling in front of a wall of flowers and wearing a black sweater

Dr. Dantzler has dedicated the past 20+ years to working with individuals at various stages of personal growth and transition. Dr. Dantzler is a Board Certified Counselor, a Master Addiction Counselor, and a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Georgia. She has

worked in a variety of clinical settings, including intensive outpatient, and residential treatment.

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