What Is Post-Narcissist Stress Disorder (PNSD)? and its 3 Major Symptoms

What Is Post-Narcissist Stress Disorder (PNSD)? and its 3 Major Symptoms

Similar to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) people who have once shared their life with a narcissist may go through corresponding occurrences resembling the symptoms of PTSD. Maybe we should call it PNSD or Post-Narcissist Stress Disorder.

Post-traumatic stress disorder develops after one has experienced an event or action that causes intense fear, disbelief, helplessness or horror.

While it is common to have a period of adjusting and coping after a narcissist, for many these periods of difficult adjustments may continue for quite a while. With time, attitude adjustment, letting go of the narcissist and giving the narcissism back to the narcissist (it is THEIR problem and ISSUE, no longer yours) and taking care of you, such traumatic reactions usually get better and dissipate completely.

Anything can bring on PNSD… even things as simple as the familiar smell of his/her cologne on a stranger walking by, a song playing on the radio, even certain foods. It doesn’t matter what brings you back to that terrifying nightmare … what does matter is that instantly & out-of-the-blue you are transported back to a time in your life that was mentally and emotionally disturbing. These identifiers are called ‘triggers’.



1) intrusive memories of the narcissist — these may be memories that had a sudden onset caused by a ‘trigger’, or memories that are continuous and lingering

2) avoidance and emotional numbing

3) anxiety and increased emotional volatility


Symptoms of intrusive memories of the narcissist may include: 

  • Flashbacks of their narcissistic rages, images of intense rage or reliving the traumatic event for minutes or even days at a time
  • Suddenly questioning your own mental stability due to months/ years of abuse and/or gaslighting  when trying to perform everyday tasks or relating to others
  • Upsetting dreams about the narcissistic event
  • Difficulty readjusting your self-esteem and feeling good about yourself in social situations resulting from months/years of emotional, mental, verbal and oftentimes physical abuse


Symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing may include:

  • Avoiding social situations, activities, people or relationships that you once enjoyed
  • Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the narcissist
  • Feeling emotionally numb towards life and love
  • Substance abuse or overuse of sleep aids
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble concentrating or performing simple actions
  • Distancing yourself or feeling on the apathetic ‘outside’ of conversations
  • Difficulty starting new relationships or maintaining close relationships
  • Cocooning or hiding
  • Hopelessness about the future or feelings of defeat


Symptoms of anxiety and increased emotional volatility may include:

  • Irritability, rage, temper outbursts or anger
  • Being caught up in the gaslighting mode whereas you may have difficulty adjusting to everyday tasks or questioning your memories, motives, and sanity. Self-doubt and loss of self-confidence
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame, self-blame or Stockholm syndrome 
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as casual sex with strangers, drinking too much, not eating properly, quitting your job, or doing drugs
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Panic attacks
  • Crying attacks
  • Being easily startled or frightened, jumpy and hypervigilant
  • Paranoia or imagining worst-case scenarios
  • Questioning others intents and genuinity, especially with new partners
  • Reliving arguments or narcissistic rages in your head

The narcissist experience may haunt you for a long time. It may interrupt your daily life and activities, and invade you at any unforeseen moment.

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Written by Tigress Luv

Toxic Relationship Expert.

A victim of a narcissist herself, Tigress Luv has been healing broken hearts and helping people overcome a relationship with a narcissist since 1998. You can read more articles from Tigress at her sites or in her monthly magazine, AFTERSHOCK, a magazine for recovery specifically geared towards victims of a narcissist.
For more work from her visit

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