Physical Symptoms of narcissistic abuse-What You Need To Know

Physical Symptoms of narcissistic abuse

Growing up, I never imagined that meeting someone falling in love, and getting married would become my greatest source of pain and suffering. My intimate partner whose covert narcissistic tendencies started small – little put-downs here, controlling behaviors there. 

But over time, their toxic narcissism spiraled into an inescapable cycle of emotional and psychological abuse. The gaslighting, the stonewalling, the constant criticism – it slowly chipped away at my self-worth until I no longer recognized myself.

I was a shell, experiencing all the telltale signs of narcissistic victim syndrome. Anxiety ruled my days, while nightmares tormented my nights. Debilitating migraines and endless fatigue became my new normal as the stress ravaged my body.

I knew deep down that this narcissistic abuse was poisoning me from the inside out, but I felt powerless to escape. It wasn’t until I finally found the courage to seek help that I began to understand the full breadth of the physical symptoms of narcissistic abuse that was caused by this vicious form of emotional torture. 

If you or someone you love is trapped in the cruel clutches of a toxic relationship, please share this article with them.

What Happens to Your Body After Narcissistic Abuse?

Narcissistic abuse can have severe consequences on both your mental and physical health. When you endure emotional, psychological, or physical abuse from a partner with narcissistic personality disorder, your body reacts to the constant stress and trauma.

Some common physical symptoms that victims of narcissistic abuse may experience include:

  • Chronic fatigue and exhaustion: The constant walking on eggshells, emotional turmoil, and stress can leave you feeling utterly drained and fatigued.
  • Insomnia or sleep disturbances: Nightmares, anxiety, and the inability to relax can make it challenging to get a good night’s sleep.
  • Digestive issues: Stress can wreak havoc on your digestive system, leading to problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), acid reflux, or ulcers.
  • Headaches and migraines: The tension and anxiety caused by the abuse can trigger frequent headaches or migraine attacks.
  • Muscle tension and pain: Carrying the weight of abuse on your shoulders can cause chronic muscle tension and pain in areas like your neck, shoulders, and back.
  • Weakened immune system: The constant stress of abuse can suppress your immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses and infections.
  • Weight fluctuations: Some victims may experience significant weight loss due to stress and lack of appetite, while others may turn to emotional eating and gain weight.

It’s crucial to understand that the physical symptoms of narcissistic abuse are not just temporary inconveniences; they can have long-lasting effects on your overall health and well-being.

narcissistic abuse was poisoning me
narcissistic abuse was poisoning me

Signs of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome

In addition to the physical manifestations, narcissistic abuse can also take a significant toll on your emotional and mental health.

The term “Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome” refers to the cluster of symptoms that victims often experience as a result of the ongoing emotional and psychological trauma inflicted by a narcissistic partner or family member. These symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety and depression: The constant criticism, manipulation, and emotional invalidation can lead to feelings of anxiety, sadness, and hopelessness.
  • Low self-esteem and self-worth: Narcissists are skilled at tearing down their victim’s sense of self-worth through belittling, gaslighting, and constant put-downs.
  • Emotional dysregulation: Victims may find themselves experiencing extreme mood swings, outbursts of anger or sadness, or feeling numb and disconnected.
  • Hypervigilance and paranoia: The unpredictable nature of the abuse can leave victims in a state of constant alertness, always anticipating the next attack or criticism.
  • Dissociation or “spacing out”: As a coping mechanism, some victims may dissociate or mentally “check out” during episodes of abuse.
  • Intrusive thoughts and flashbacks: Victims may experience intrusive thoughts, memories, or flashbacks related to the abuse, even long after it has ended.

It’s important to remember that these emotional and psychological symptoms are not a sign of weakness or personal failings; they are the natural consequences of enduring prolonged emotional trauma.

How Narcissists Affect Your Physical Health

Narcissistic abuse can have profound effects on your physical health, both in the short term and long term.

The chronic stress, emotional turmoil, and trauma associated with this type of abuse can lead to a wide range of physical ailments. Here are some ways in which narcissistic abuse can impact your physical well-being:

  • Increased risk of heart disease: The constant stress and anxiety caused by narcissistic abuse can lead to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
  • Weakened immune system: Chronic stress suppresses the immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses such as colds, flu, and other infections.
  • Digestive problems: Stress can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut, leading to issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), acid reflux, and ulcers.
  • Chronic pain and inflammation: The tension and emotional distress caused by abuse can manifest as physical pain, such as headaches, back pain, or muscle tension.
  • Hormonal imbalances: Prolonged stress can disrupt the production of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, leading to problems with sleep, mood, and metabolism.
  • Reproductive health issues: Women who experience narcissistic abuse may face complications such as irregular menstrual cycles, fertility problems, or increased risk of miscarriage.
  • Autoimmune disorders: Some research suggests that the chronic stress of emotional abuse can increase the risk of developing autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or fibromyalgia.
  • Substance abuse and addiction: In an attempt to cope with the emotional pain, some victims may turn to alcohol, drugs, or other substances, which can further compromise their physical health.

It’s important to note that the physical effects of narcissistic abuse can be long-lasting, even after the abusive relationship has ended. Seeking professional help and support is crucial for recovering both physically and emotionally from the abuse.

Narciisistic abuse Can Cause a Nervous system Breakdown
Narcissistic abuse Can Cause a Nervous system Breakdown

Recognizing the Emotional and Psychological Impact of Narcissistic Trauma

Narcissistic abuse is a form of emotional and psychological trauma that can have devastating and long-lasting effects on the victim. The emotional and psychological impact of this type of abuse can be just as severe as physical abuse, and in some cases, even more damaging.

One of the most common consequences of narcissistic trauma is the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a mental health condition that can occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as physical or emotional abuse. Victims of narcissistic abuse may experience symptoms of PTSD, including:

  • Flashbacks or intrusive memories: Reliving the abuse through vivid and distressing memories or nightmares.
  • Avoidance: Actively avoiding people, places, or situations that remind them of the abuse.
  • Negative changes in thinking and mood: Persistent negative thoughts, feelings of detachment or numbness, and difficulty experiencing positive emotions.
  • Hyperarousal: Being easily startled, feeling tense or on edge, and experiencing difficulty sleeping or concentrating.

In addition to PTSD, victims of narcissistic abuse may also experience other emotional and psychological effects, such as:

  • Depression and anxiety: The constant belittling, manipulation, and emotional invalidation can lead to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and anxiety.
  • Low self-esteem and self-worth: Narcissists are skilled at tearing down their victim’s sense of self-worth through criticism, gaslighting, and put-downs.
  • Emotional dysregulation: Difficulty managing and expressing emotions healthily, often leading to emotional outbursts or numbness.
  • Codependency: Developing an unhealthy reliance on the narcissist for validation and a fear of abandonment.
  • Distorted thinking patterns: Adopting the narcissist’s distorted beliefs and thought patterns, leads to cognitive distortions and self-blame.

It’s crucial to recognize the emotional and psychological impact of narcissistic trauma and seek professional support to begin the healing process. With the right treatment and support, survivors of narcissistic abuse can overcome the trauma and reclaim their lives.

Detecting an Abusive Narcissist in Your Life

Identifying signs of narcissistic abuse can be challenging, as narcissists are often charming and manipulative, making it difficult to spot their abusive tendencies early on. However, some red flags can help you detect the abusive narcissistic traits in your life:

  • Lack of empathy: Narcissists have a limited ability to understand or share the feelings of others. They may be dismissive or unconcerned about your emotions or experiences.
  • Entitlement and superiority: Narcissists often display a sense of entitlement and superiority, believing they deserve special treatment or are above rules and boundaries.
  • Constant need for admiration: Narcissists crave excessive attention, praise, and admiration. They may fish for compliments or become jealous of others’ achievements.
  • Manipulation and gaslighting: Narcissists are skilled manipulators and may use gaslighting tactics to make you doubt your reality or perception of events.
  • Blame-shifting and lack of accountability: Narcissists rarely take responsibility for their actions and often shift blame onto others.
  • Emotional abuse and belittling: Narcissists may use emotional abuse tactics such as criticism, insults, and put-downs to undermine your self-worth.
  • Jealousy and possessiveness: Narcissists may display jealous and possessive behaviors, attempting to control their relationships and activities.
  • Mood swings and unpredictability: Narcissists can be unpredictable, with their moods and behaviors changing rapidly and without apparent reason.
  • Exploitation and lack of boundaries: Narcissists may violate your boundaries and exploit you for their gain, whether emotionally, financially, or otherwise.
  • Grandiose sense of self-importance: Narcissists often exaggerate their accomplishments, talents, or importance and may expect constant praise and admiration.

If you recognize these warning signs in someone close to you, it’s important to seek support and consider removing yourself from the abusive situation. Narcissistic abuse can have severe emotional and psychological consequences, and it’s crucial to prioritize your well-being.

narcissistic manipulation

Understanding the Four Phases of Narcissistic Abuse

Narcissistic abuse often follows a cyclical pattern, with distinct phases that can repeat over time. Understanding these four phases can help you recognize the abuse cycle and take steps to break free from it.

  • Idealization Phase: In the beginning, the narcissist will idealize and shower you with attention, affection, and compliments. They may appear charming, attentive, and seemingly perfect, making it easy to overlook any red flags.
  • Devaluation Phase: As the relationship progresses, the narcissist will begin to devalue and belittle you. This may involve criticism, insults, gaslighting, and emotional manipulation. The narcissist may attempt to control and isolate you from friends and family.
  • Discard Phase: In this phase, the narcissist may discard or abandon you, either physically or emotionally. They may engage in emotional or physical affairs, or simply withdraw from the relationship, leaving you feeling confused and devastated.
  • Hoovering Phase: After a period of discard, the narcissist may attempt to “hoover” you back into the relationship. They may use tactics such as love-bombing, promises of change, or even threats to lure you back into the cycle of abuse.

It’s important to note that not all narcissistic abuse follows this exact pattern, and the phases may overlap or occur in a different order. However, understanding the cyclical nature of narcissistic abuse can help you recognize the patterns and break free from the cycle before it repeats.

Examples that Define Narcissistic Abuse

Narcissistic abuse can take many forms and manifest in various ways. To better understand what constitutes narcissistic abuse, let’s examine some real-life examples:

  • Sarah’s Story: Sarah’s husband, Mark, constantly belittles and criticizes her, making her feel worthless and inadequate. He would frequently gaslight her, denying incidents or making her doubt her reality. Sarah lived in constant fear of upsetting Mark, as he would often explode in rage and verbally abuse her.
  • Tom’s Experience: Tom’s mother was a narcissist who constantly compared him to his siblings and demanded excessive praise and attention. If Tom didn’t meet her expectations, she would emotionally manipulate him or withhold affection as punishment. This left Tom with deep emotional scars and low self-esteem.
  • Emily’s Struggle: Emily’s partner, Alex, was extremely jealous and possessive. He would accuse her of flirting or cheating whenever she spoke to other men, even colleagues or friends. Alex would often check Emily’s phone and social media accounts, and he would become emotionally abusive if she didn’t comply with his demands.
  • Michael’s Ordeal: Michael’s boss, Jennifer, displayed grandiose and entitled behavior, often taking credit for her employees’ work. She would frequently belittle and humiliate Michael in front of colleagues, and she would use her position of power to manipulate and control him.
  • Lily’s Nightmare: Lily’s father was a covert narcissist who would alternate between love-bombing and emotional abuse. He would shower her with gifts and affection one day, only to verbally and emotionally abuse her the next. This unpredictable behavior left Lily feeling constantly anxious and walking on eggshells.

These examples illustrate the various tactics and behaviors that narcissists may employ to exert control, manipulate, and abuse their victims.

Narcissistic abuse can occur in any type of relationship, whether romantic, familial, or professional, and it can have long-lasting emotional and psychological effects on the victim.

Red Flags You Should Never Ignore

While narcissistic abuse can be subtle and insidious, certain red flags should never be ignored. Being aware of these warning signs can help you recognize potential narcissistic abuse and take steps to protect yourself. Here are some crucial red flags to watch out for:

  • Excessive Criticism and Belittling: If your partner or loved one constantly criticizes, belittles, or insults you, it’s a clear sign of emotional abuse and a potential precursor to more severe forms of narcissistic abuse.
  • Gaslighting and Manipulation: Narcissists are experts at gaslighting, which involves manipulating you into questioning your reality, memories, or perceptions. If someone consistently dismisses your feelings or makes you doubt yourself, it’s a significant red flag.
  • Lack of Empathy and Emotional Invalidation: Narcissists often lack empathy and have a limited ability to understand or validate your emotions. If your partner consistently disregards or minimizes your feelings, it’s a concerning sign.
  • Isolation and Control: Narcissists may attempt to isolate you from friends and family, control your activities, or monitor your behavior in an attempt to exert power and control over you.
  • Rage and Verbal Abuse: Narcissists may display outbursts of rage, verbal abuse, or intimidation when they feel threatened or challenged. If you find yourself walking on eggshells around your partner to avoid their anger, it’s a clear warning sign.
  • Entitlement and Superiority: If your partner exhibits a sense of entitlement, believe they deserve special treatment, or acts as if they are superior to others, it could be a sign of narcissistic tendencies.
  • Blame-Shifting and Denial: Narcissists rarely take responsibility for their actions and often shift blame onto others. If your partner consistently denies wrongdoing or blames you for their behavior, it’s a concerning pattern.
  • Emotional Manipulation and Love-Bombing: Narcissists may use emotional manipulation tactics, such as love-bombing (showering you with excessive affection and attention) or playing the victim, to maintain control over you.

Remember, ignoring these red flags can lead to further abuse and emotional trauma. If you recognize these patterns in your relationship, it’s crucial to seek support and prioritize your safety and well-being.

How Do Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse Behave?

Survivors of narcissistic abuse often exhibit certain behaviors and traits as a result of the trauma they’ve endured. Understanding these behaviors can help provide insight into the long-lasting impact of narcissistic abuse and the challenges survivors face in their healing journey.

  • Hypervigilance and Anxiety: Due to the constant emotional turmoil and unpredictability of the abuse, survivors may remain in a state of heightened alertness, even after leaving the abusive relationship. They may experience anxiety, panic attacks, or a persistent feeling of being “on edge.”
  • Low Self-Esteem and Self-Doubt: Narcissistic abusers often employ tactics like gaslighting, belittling, and emotional invalidation to erode their victim’s self-esteem and confidence. As a result, survivors may struggle with self-doubt, self-blame, and a diminished sense of self-worth.
  • Codependency and Fear of Abandonment: Narcissistic abuse often fosters co-dependency, where the victim becomes emotionally reliant on the abuser for validation and approval. Survivors may have a deep-seated fear of abandonment, making it challenging for them to establish healthy boundaries in future relationships.
  • Emotional Dysregulation and Mood Swings: The trauma of narcissistic abuse can disrupt a survivor’s ability to regulate their emotions effectively. They may experience mood swings, emotional outbursts, or periods of emotional numbness or detachment.
  • Trust Issues and Difficulty in Relationships: Having experienced betrayal and manipulation from someone they loved and trusted, survivors of narcissistic abuse may struggle to trust others, making it difficult to form and maintain healthy relationships.
  • Dissociation and Flashbacks: As a coping mechanism during the abuse, some survivors may have dissociated or mentally “checked out.” After leaving the abusive situation, they may experience flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, or dissociative episodes.
  • Guilt and Self-Blame: Narcissists are skilled at making their victims feel responsible for the abuse. As a result, survivors may experience overwhelming guilt and self-blame, even after leaving the abusive situation.
  • Trauma Bonding: Due to the cyclical nature of abuse, which alternates between positive reinforcement and negative punishment, survivors may develop a strong emotional attachment to their abuser, making it challenging to leave the relationship.
  • Difficulty Making Decisions: The constant undermining and gaslighting by the narcissist can leave survivors second-guessing their judgment and struggling to make even simple decisions without seeking validation from others.
  • Emotional Numbness: As a coping mechanism, some survivors may detach emotionally and become numb to their feelings, making it difficult for them to process and express emotions healthily.
  • Substance Abuse: To cope with the emotional pain and trauma, some survivors may turn to alcohol, drugs, or other substances as a means of self-medication, potentially leading to addiction and further complications.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): The severe emotional and psychological trauma of narcissistic abuse can lead to the development of PTSD symptoms, such as flashbacks, nightmares, hyperarousal, and avoidance behaviors.

It’s essential to understand that these behaviors are not indicative of personal flaws or weaknesses but rather the natural consequences of enduring prolonged emotional trauma. With proper support, therapy, and time, survivors of narcissistic abuse can begin to heal and reclaim their sense of self-worth, emotional resilience, and overall well-being.

Final Thoughts

Narcissistic abuse is an insidious form of emotional and psychological trauma that can have devastating effects on a person’s mind, body, and spirit. The physical and emotional symptoms described in this article are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the far-reaching consequences of this type of abuse.

If you or someone you know is experiencing this form of domestic violence, it’s crucial to understand that you are not alone and that there is help available. The first step towards healing is recognizing the abuse for what it is and understanding that you deserve to be treated with respect, compassion, and dignity.

Seeking support from professionals who understand the complexities of narcissistic abuse can be a game-changer in your healing journey.

Embodiment coaches like Vishnu Ra and licensed therapists specializing in narcissistic abuse and trauma can provide you with the tools, guidance, and safe space to begin to process your experiences, rebuild your self-worth, and reclaim your power.

Remember, you are not to blame for the abuse you’ve endured, and healing is possible. By reaching out for help, you are taking the first courageous step towards breaking free from the cycle of abuse and reclaiming your life.

Don’t hesitate to seek support. Your well-being and happiness are worth fighting for. Surround yourself with professionals and loved ones who can help you navigate this challenging journey, and know that a life free from the chains of narcissistic abuse is within your reach.

Embodiment Coach Vishnu Ra
Vishnu Ra

Master Embodiment Coach |

Vishnu Ra is a Reiki Master & meditation coach with an impressive background in deep meditation. He has spent countless hours delving into the mysteries of human consciousness, and he is passionate about sharing his wisdom with others. Vishnu is also an entrepreneur and truth seeker, always on the lookout for new opportunities to explore. When he’s not sitting in meditation or teaching workshops on mindfulness, Vishnu loves being by the ocean!