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Narcissistic Personality Disorder (cont.)

How Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder Diagnosed?

Personality, by definition, involves stable traits that develop over time. If physical symptoms are present, a doctor may undertake a medical history and physical exam. There are no lab tests that diagnose personality disorders, but if someone has experienced a change from their usual personality, a doctor may order diagnostic tests, such as neuroimaging or blood tests, to rule out a neurological or other physical illness as the cause of a change in personality.

If the doctor finds no physical reason for the symptoms, he or she would likely refer the person to a psychiatrist or psychologist, health care professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a person for a personality disorder.

How Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder Treated?

There is no known cure for narcissistic personality disorder, but psychotherapy (a type of counseling) might help the person learn to relate to others in a more positive and rewarding way. Long-term psychotherapy tries to provide the person with greater insight into his or her problems and attitudes in the hope that this will change behavior. The goal of therapy is to help the person develop a better self-esteem and more realistic expectations of others. Medication might sometimes be used to treat the distressing symptoms, such as behavioral problems, that might occur with this disorder, but medicines are not the mainstay of treating personality disorders.

What Complications Are Associated With Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

People with narcissistic personality disorder might abuse drugs and/or alcohol as a way of coping with their symptoms. They may also have problems in relationships and in work or school performance.

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