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

What Is PNSD

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.

Related: 7 Signs You’ve Arrived as a Survivor of Narcissistic Abuse

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’.

THREE MAJOR SYMPTOMS OF Post-Narcissist Stress Disorder (PNSD)

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

Related: A Narcissist’s Damage: They Poison Your Mind, Your Heart, Your Soul, And Your LIFE

1) Symptoms of intrusive memories of the narcissist may include: 

1.Flashbacks of their narcissistic rages, images of intense rage or reliving the traumatic event for minutes or even days at a time

2. 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

3. Upsetting dreams about the narcissistic event

4. 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

Related: How to Help a Loved One Who is Healing From Narcissistic Abuse

2) Symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing may include:

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

Related: Complex-PTSD: Recovery In Psychotherapy For Survivors Of Narcissistic Abuse

3) Symptoms of anxiety and increased emotional volatility may include:

  1. Irritability, rage, temper outbursts or anger
  2. 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
  3. Overwhelming guilt or shame, self-blame or Stockholm syndrome 
  4. Self-destructive behavior, such as casual sex with strangers, drinking too much, not eating properly, quitting your job, or doing drugs
  5. Trouble sleeping
  6. Panic attacks
  7. Crying attacks
  8. Being easily startled or frightened, jumpy and hypervigilant
  9. Paranoia or imagining worst-case scenarios
  10. Questioning others intents and genuinity, especially with new partners
  11. Reliving arguments or narcissistic rages in your head

Related: Recovery From Narcissistic Abuse, Is Slow & Painful ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

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.


Post-Narcissist Stress Disorder (PNSD)
Written By Tigress Luv, http://tigressluv.com, author of ‘Counterfeit Heart’ and ‘Daily Inspirations for Those Recovering from a Narcissist’

Originally Appeared On Breakups.org
Printed With Permission

What Is Post-Narcissist Stress Disorder (PNSD)? and its 3 Major Symptoms
What Is Post-Narcissist Stress Disorder (PNSD)? and its 3 Major Symptoms
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7 thoughts on “What Is Post-Narcissist Stress Disorder (PNSD) and its 3 Major Symptoms”

  1. I’ve been married to a narcissist for 20 years. I have no friends, I’ve never been able to get my driver’s license or a job. I’ve never even been allowed to do grocery shopping. Not being able to drive it’s even crippled me from taking my kids to and from school. He gets jealous if I spend too much time with my kids and I must have accountability for every minute. He’s openly admitted that our children are the downfall in our marriage. He’s verbally, emotionally and physically abusive to me and my children. His family(mother) believes that my kids and I are the problem and that we make up stories about him to make him look bad. None of our needs are being met and this includes our medical needs too whereas he does not need or want for anything. He has everything while my kids and I barely have enough clothing on our backs. He even complains about having to feed us more than one meal per day. This is my life and the life of my children. It’s been this way for almost 21 years. Sad thing is I haven’t even mentioned the horrific incidents…..only the “nice” ones.

    1. You reached out which means you know your situation has to change. Keep researching and finding resources on the web. Find a Facebook group if you’re able. There’s so much information on what you’re going through. There is strength in you I can see since you took the step to write your story. You’re not alone I promise!

  2. I’m going through a divorce and have discovered that my ex is a complete narcissist. I didn’t realise that I was suffering from PNSD till I read your article. My behaviour mak3s so much sense now. Thank you.

  3. Thankyou so much, that wa very helpful information.knowing what it is and why you are suffering from this horrendous post traumatic stress from a narcissist.

  4. Reading this brings me to tears. It’s hard to accept that I was letting this happen. Slowly. That little taste of love that I’d get, would make me want more. I realize only now, that everyday I’d wake up and want to prove to him I was enough. I was worthwhile. And I think that’s why I stayed. Because looking back, to just a year ago, it’s embarrassing to tell the stories of what he did to me and then wonder how I could have loved this person? It’s devastating and I don’t know how to recover. How to stop thinking about him. Or how to feel safe and trusting of others.

    Thank you for sharing this. The symptoms are spot on. Unfortunately our symptoms resemble a lot of other disorders or abuses, so I hope that others that haven’t experienced life with a narcissist, read this so there is more understanding and less judgement.

  5. This describes the last year or to of the hell that has been my life. I am trying to heal. Most days I am numb. You did leave our self harm. Cutting and burning are ways to feel pain that is not the pain of the abuse. This is a great summary though of the torture you go through in recovery. I am not there yet but seeing it named brings sunlight into a dark place. Naming it is great.

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