Narcissistic Personality Disorder in Women
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition marked by deep-seated insecurity hidden behind such things as outsized displays of arrogance, self-importance and self-adulation. This condition affects a small but significant percentage of American adults. Both women and men develop NPD. However, the condition’s impact on women differs from its impact on men in several important ways.
Statistical Gender Differences in NPD
Narcissistic personality disorder affects roughly 6.2% of America’s adult population. However, this statistic masks a significant difference in the rates of affected men and affected women. While approximately 7.7% of men have diagnosable NPD, just 4.8% of women have diagnosable symptoms of the disorder. There are also differences among racial/ethnic groups of women. Among women, African-American and Hispanic/Latino women have the highest NPD risks.
Narcissistic personality disorder also affects women in different ways than it affects men. Specifically, a woman diagnosed with NPD has a lower chance of experiencing disabling symptoms than a man diagnosed with the disorder. However, this does not mean that women don’t develop problems serious enough to require a doctor’s care in a women’s treatment center equipped to help people affected by NPD or other personality disorders. That’s because, by definition, diagnosable personality disorders can have a negative impact on the ability to maintain personal and social relationships, lead a functional life and experience a sense of well-being.
Differing Co-Existing Disorders
People with personality disorders frequently have additional mental health issues. This is certainly true for people diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. However, the types of co-existing issues found in women with NPD tend to differ from the types of co-existing issues found in men with the condition. Common co-existing disorders in women include:
- Bipolar II disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and
- Specific phobias (irrational fear of specific situations, places or objects)
In contrast, common co-existing disorders in men include:
- Substance use disorder (drug and/or alcohol abuse and addiction)
- Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and
- Histrionic personality disorder
Co-existing mental health problems can have a major impact on the course of treatment for any person with NPD. This means that a women’s treatment center that handles cases of narcissistic personality disorder must also be prepared to treat the kinds of conditions that tend to present simultaneously in women affected by NPD.
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry: Prevalence, Correlates, Disability, and Comorbidity of DSM-IV Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Results From the Wave 2 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions