7 Side-Effects of Narcissistic Abuse That Can Kill You

Written by Angela Atkinson

Narcissistic abuse can KILL YOU! Do you think I’m joking? Maybe being a little dramatic?

Listen, we all know how hard it can be to live with, work with or really be in any sort of relationship with a toxic person, and this is especially true in the case of relationships with narcissistic people. A toxic relationship with a narcissist can literally kill you

Narcissists have a lot of major issues, right? One of the most perplexing is how horribly mean they can be to the people closest to them. It seems like own self-esteem is so low that they are often “on a mission” to destroy the self-esteem of everyone else in their path – this includes, of course, their favorite source(s) of narcissistic supply. But as if this drama weren’t enough, being a victim of narcissistic abuse leaves you with yet another (much more sinister) issue to worry about.

Narcissistic abuse and the trauma related to it can really negatively affect your health, and in certain extreme cases, can literally kill you. But before we talk about how narcissistic abuse can kill you, let me explain what I mean when I use the term “narcissistic abuse.”

What is Narcissistic Abuse?

Narcissistic abuse is a type of relationship abuse that is committed by a malignant narcissist (or someone who is or would be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder) and someone close to them, often a spouse or partner, a child or other family member, or a close friend. In some cases, narcissists will also abuse coworkers, subbordinates, neighbors and service people too.

Narcissistic abuse is hard to detect in many cases, as from the outside, everything might seem perfect. In fact, even in the mind of a narcissist’s victim, it can seem that the problem isn’t with the narcissist at all, but with the victim’s shortcomings and failures. In reality, this is so common because narcissistic abuse involves subtle manipulation, pervasive control tactics, gaslighting, and emotional and psychological abuse.

Many narcissistic abusers might be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder – if they actually go to a psychologist for diagnosis, but this rarely happens as narcissists don’t feel that there’s anything with them. They may be overtly narcissistic, or they may be more of a covert narcissist. In either case, anyone in a close relationship with one of these toxic people will be used as a form of narcissistic supply and not treated like an actual person. Sadly, even the most intelligent and educated people can be manipulated and abused by a narcissist.

7 Side-Effects of Narcissistic Abuse That Can Kill You

So, we’ve established the fact that that narcissistic abuse can cause a lot of problems – both emotionally and physically. If you want to stay healthy, you need to know what you’re dealing with. Perhaps recognizing how seriously this pervasive kind of abuse can affect your life might help you find the catalyst you need to get out of an abusive relationship with a narcissist. I hope it helps you to at least see that you’re not being dramatic when you feel abused by the narcissist in your life. It’s not as harmless as it seems.

Here are seven side-effects of narcissistic abuse that can literally kill you.


Depression is common in narcissistic abuse victims. During a toxic relationship, the narcissist will emotionally batter you. This will lead you to begin to feel worthless. Plus, the narcissist will abuse you to the point that you can’t stand dealing with anyone else’s emotional issues or concerns. This, along with a few other factors, will eventually isolate you from your friends and sometimes even your family. Isolation only gives you time to think about all the things that are wrong with you – of which of course, the narcissist is happy to remind you. This leads you to doubt yourself on literally every level, which causes you to go into a deeper depression. And depression, on its own, can lead to so many other issues.


Anxiety is another big issue for narcissistic abuse victims. The constant emotional abuse and psychological torment narcissistic people inflict on those closest to them cause a victim to live in a constant state of being alert (or even alarmed), and this can lead to extreme episodes of anxiety and panic attacks. Low self-esteem is pretty common in victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse. The side-effects of the lack of confidence combined with the ongoing emotional torture lead you to live in constant fear.


Stress is a part of everyone’s lives, but it can be brutal and excessive for someone who’s dealing with narcissistic abuse. And due to the nature of narcissistic abuse, victims aren’t not likely to take the steps necessary to avoid some of their stress, which combined with all of the other effects of ongoing psychological abuse, causes their anxiety to build.

Weight Gain

Weight gain is very common for narcissistic abuse victims. A lot of narcissistic abuse survivors find they struggle with their relationships with food during the abuse and even in narcissistic abuse recovery later. I personally still struggle with this one on occasion. Of course, for anyone, gaining too much weight can cause life-threatening health issues, such as heart problems, sleep apnea, diabetes, and a host of other illnesses. And in most cases, it can further reduce your self-esteem and even lead to most other symptoms on this list.

Weight Loss 

In some cases, we make an intentional choice to lose weight. But while some people gain weight as a side effect of narcissistic abuse, others tend to develop different eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia. So, rather than overeating, they binge and purge their food or starve themselves, whether as a coping mechanism or in an effort to maintain a figure acceptable to their abusers. Unfortunately, the health complications associated with these eating disorders are as significant as the ones associated with being obese, if not more so. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, it really is life-threatening. I’m asking you personally to please get help immediately. You can call this Helpline for support, resources, and treatment options, and according to the organization’s website, “helpline volunteers are trained to help you find the information and support you are looking for.”


While some narcissistic abuse victims may find themselves addicted to food or shopping (and both of these can cause devastation in their own ways), others end up with more dangerous addictions. For example, some survivors end up being addicted to gambling, or sex. And then, there are the many who end up being addicted to alcohol, street drugs, or even prescription drugs. These addictions are common for narcissistic abuse victims as they often feel the need to sort of “numb out” during and after abuse episodes. Some say they get high on these drugs and live that moment in time in a different world where they have no cares and no problems. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always end well. Some addicted victims end up brain-damaged or even dead if the addiction isn’t dealt with in a healthy way. If you are struggling with an addiction that could risk your life, please don’t feel ashamed of yourself. I totally understand how you could end up where you are, and so does every other survivor of narcissistic abuse. What’s important now is that you do not give up on yourself, because you have a chance to live again.

Start by getting help with your addiction. SAMSHA (US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association) has a free helpline you can call if you’re struggling with an addiction or even with mental health issues. Here’s the phone number: 1-800-662-4357 According to the website, “SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders,” and the service offers “confidential free help, from public health agencies, to find substance use treatment and information.”

Brain Damage

In addition to the brain damage that can be caused by certain addictions, most long-term narcissistic abuse victims experience a form of brain damage that results in some C-PTSD symptoms. Another common issue that could be related to the brain damage caused by narcissistic abuse is fibromyalgia and some related conditions, such as chronic pain and certain autoimmune issues. Trauma bonding is a also major factor in the structural changes the brain goes through during ongoing abuse.

These are only a few of the major health issues that narcissistic abuse can cause. I want you to ask yourself: is this toxic abuser worth your health? And without your health, what do you have left?

Please remember that you do not deserve to be abused. You do not deserve to have your life put at risk every day, nor do you deserve to have your health chipped away, bit by bit, by someone who genuinely does not care about how you feel, and who doesn’t believe that you are even a whole person.

Get help with your anxiety and PTSD or C-PTSD symptoms!

You might also like to read my latest book on narcissism in toxic relationships –  The Ultimate Toxic Relationship Survival Guide for Victims and Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse

More Books & eBooks on Narcissism and Relationships


  • Angela Atkinson is a certified trauma counselor and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery, and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships since 2006, she has a popular narcissistic abuse recovery YouTube channel. Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own. Atkinson offers trauma-informed narcissistic abuse recovery coaching and has certifications in trauma counseling, life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation, and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves. Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse here at QueenBeeing.com and at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online.

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