Narcissism and depression (+Understanding if the 2)

This article will discuss how the lack of Narcissistic supply can impact the life of a Narcissistic person, and if it can cause them to get depressed. For that, the article will explain what does it mean to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, what narcissistic supply is, and how it relates to depression, as the article also enlightens what depression is.

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

People that have a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are ones that an inflated notion of themselves, and be in constant need of admiration and attention of others

A person can come to have an NPD for many reasons, although it is not yet set on why they become that way, it seems that some environmental factors might impact it. For example, they usually go through episodes of childhood abuse or neglect. 

Or on the other hand, they can be people that had too much pampering from their parents, and those usually had unrealistic expectations of their child. This can be related to why people with NPD need to constantly feel special.

Having NPD can cause many troubles in a person’s life, they might experience difficulties in their work or school relationships, as well as in other types of social or romantic relationships.

They usually are described as arrogant, self-centered, and demanding people. That is because they usually have such high self-esteem that they think they might be better than everyone, which causes them to react in a bad way when someone criticizes them.

Because of that increased self-esteem, they tend to seem, to other people, overly confident, that is because they exaggerate when telling people about their talents and accomplishments. And this constant chase for greatness and power can lead them to risky and impulsive behaviors, such as gambling, and risky sexual situations.

If a person is wondering if they have NPD, there might be some signs to pay attention to, and although it might be hard for people with NPD to consider there might be something wrong with them, it is important to understand that those usually show up in early childhood.

A person with NPD usually finds their relationships unfulfilling and gets extremely frustrated, unhappy, or angry when things don’t go your way. Aside from that, they can have constant problems with your impulsive behavior.

According to the DSM-5, a person is considered to have NPD when they present that inflated sense of self, and feel a constant need for admiration, usually expecting special treatment because they are superior. 

Aside from that, they usually manipulate and take advantage of others to fulfill their needs. And are unable to recognize the needs or feelings of people around them, which can turn to have a relationship with them into deep suffering.

What is the Narcissistic supply?

Narcissistic supply is the definition given to that constant need for attention and admiration that a person with NPD has. They might choose people in their life to be the ones to supply them that attention, and to get that, they can even create a whole new personality, called a false self.

This seeking for attention can come through the look of positive or even negative situations. A person with NPD can look for someone to give them praise, but it can also be that even a discussion feeds them the supply they need, making them feel important and relevant.

The goal here is to create situations in which they constantly feel like the center of attention, who deserves special treatment, and they get validated through that. There are two types of Narcissistic supply, the primary and the secondary. Let’s take a look at them.

Primary Narcissistic Supply 

This type of narcissistic supply is usually based on attention, it can be public or private. It can happen by being awarded or being seen as powerful, this speaks to the public aspect of it. As for the private, it can be through feeling desired or having family members fawn around to meet their needs.

Secondary Narcissistic Supply

The second type speaks about reaching a level in their life where they can be considered successful. It might come through having a respectable job, fitting in their community, or even having children that will achieve goals that seem valuable.

What is depression?

Depression is a mental illness that causes a person to experience intense sadness, along with that, there is the loss of energy and purpose and the sense of hopelessness in the future.

Many factors can cause a person to become depressed. It can be because they are going through a traumatic situation, like a divorce or the loss of a loved one. Not only that, it can happen because of an imbalance in the person’s brain. It can also happen more frequently to a person that had a previous episode of depression or they have a family history of depression.

A person to be considered depressed needs to experience its symptoms intensely for more than two weeks. And although not everyone will experience the same symptoms, the most common symptoms of depression are:

  • Change in eating pattern
  • Change in sleeping pattern
  • Guilt
  • Irritability
  • Isolation
  • Loss of energy
  • Lack of ability to focus
  • Excessive crying or inability to cry even if they feel like it
  • Self-harm
  • Thoughts of death and suicidal thoughts

Can the lack of narcissistic supply cause them to get depressed?

It can happen that if a person with NPD runs out of supply, they might act the same way as a drug addict would if they ran out of drugs. They can go through something called Narcissistic Deficiency Dysphoria.

This might seem like the narcissist is depressed. They get emotionally disorganized, their sleeping and eating patterns change, their movement slows down. They can be sad, anhedonic, which means they lose pleasure in doing things, can present mood swings, and all the efforts they have to show self-control fail.

Because of that, they might start to show risky and impulsive behaviors. With that in mind, it is possible to say that a narcissist can show symptoms of depression when they run out of narcissistic supply.

Although they usually experience depression differently than other people, they still feel many of the symptoms that are present in depressive episodes. And without the narcissistic supply, the person with NPD might even get to a place where they lose touch with reality.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Can the lack of narcissistic supply cause a narcissist to get depressed?

What makes a narcissist angry?

The main thing that makes a narcissist angry is not having control over a person. It can be controlled through love or even fighting. Narcissists would rather you fight them than you act as if you don’t care or they are not there.

When you stop fighting, you take the control they have in your life, and because they never think they are wrong, it doesn’t matter what they did, they will never apologize and try to fix the situation, it will all be about getting to control you again.

What happens if a narcissist loses touch with reality?

Narcissists usually lose touch with reality by dissociating. Meaning they erase memories because their contact with the world is through a false self, meaning the personality they create to be more accepted and desired by others.

And to compensate for what is lost in these gaps they confabulate and create stories based on what people around them might want to hear. Their main goal is to constantly keep other people’s opinions of them as high as they think they should be.

What is the biggest fear of a narcissist?

The biggest fear of a narcissist is to feel or go through rejection. It is a concrete situation that shows they are not as amazing as they think, and that people will not validate them as much as they want to.

It can make them feel unlovable and inferior. The air the narcissist breathes is the adoration of others, feeling like people don’t have those loving feelings or admiration for them can bring intense suffering.

They will also fear that the person they are getting their supply from will figure them out. So they will keep constant tabs on them to make sure the person is still interested in being with them. 

An important thing to always keep in mind, when dealing with a narcissist person is that although they seem extremely self-assured, all they do is based on a constant insecurity and fear someone will figure them out and reject them.

How do I know a narcissist is done with getting my supply?

A narcissistic person will be done with you if your supply doesn’t interest them anymore. And by that time they start looking for validation from other people out of your relationship. And they will devalue you.

When a narcissist doesn’t need you to give them the supply again, they will start ignoring you, they may take longer to answer you and might ignore you in social situations. 

The few contacts they might have with you will be saying that you are envious of them, or that you lie when it is the opposite. Along with that, they might get vengeful and can use the silent treatment to distance themselves from you.

What does a narcissist do when you figure them out?

The first thing to know is that they will never assume their wrongdoings. They will be terrified that you figured out their true self, and they might feel threatened about it, which can cause their self-esteem to be crushed.

When a narcissist knows you figured them out it might be that they try to keep you through a trauma bond, meaning they will have abusive and manipulative behavior. 

Through that, they will play the role of the victim, and try to show that they are right.  Aside from that, they will use projection and try to get you to feel sorry for them, and sometimes you might even end up apologizing to them.


This article discussed if the lack of narcissistic supply can cause a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder to get depressed. For that, the article explained what depression is, what is Narcissistic Personality disorder, what it can bring to a person’s life, and how depression might appear in those people.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write it in the section below.


Ronningstam, Elsa Ph.D. Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Journal of Psychiatric Practice: March 2011 – Volume 17 – Issue 2 – p 89-99.

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