Individuals with bipolar disorder experience erratic and extreme mood swings. Bipolar disorder must include the presence of at least one or more manic or hypomanic episode and one or more major depressive episode.
Some people with bipolar disorder experience bipolar grandiosity. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Bipolar Grandiosity?
Bipolar grandiosity can occur in both manic and hypomanic episodes. Grandiosity refers to an unrealistic and disproportionate feeling of power and elevated self-esteem.
When experiencing bipolar grandiosity, a person may feel unstoppable. They may describe themselves as being on top of the world, as if they can do anything. This energy can be confusing for loved ones because they may not know how to handle this sudden surge.
What Are the Signs of Bipolar Grandiosity?
People with bipolar grandiosity tend to appear very confident and even narcissistic to others. It’s almost as if the normal rules in society don’t apply to them. Instead, they exhibit an over-inflated concept of self.
They may exaggerate their accomplishments while downplaying the achievements of others. Within this state, they come across as boastful and conceited. This can cause interpersonal problems with family, friends and colleagues.
Unfortunately, these individuals tend to be unaware of the grandiosity while it’s happening. They genuinely believe their beliefs are realistic. They may be quick to deny or lash out at people who confront their thinking.
When Does Bipolar Grandiosity Appear?
Grandiosity can occur during both hypomanic and manic episodes. The grandiosity may accompany other related symptoms like:
- Increased energy
- A sudden surge of motivation to complete work or other tasks
Bipolar disorder also entails at least one depressed episode. In states of depression, people are far more likely to experience despair, hopelessness and low self-esteem. These are a stark contrast to the intensity of bipolar grandiosity.
What Are the Consequences of Bipolar Grandiosity?
Bipolar grandiosity delusions can cause serious consequences that may include:
- Conflicts with people they know and love
- Excessive spending or reckless financial decisions
- Promiscuity or infidelity
- Problematic substance use
- Problems at school or work
Because most people with grandiosity aren’t aware of the symptoms as they’re occurring, they are vulnerable to making poor and impulsive decisions. While these decisions may seem like good ideas in the moment, they can lead to problems.
How Is Bipolar Grandiosity Different Than Grandiose Delusions?
Delusions refer to irrational thinking patterns that are not rooted in true reality. They are rigid beliefs that overrule common logic and evidence. While delusions aren’t always entirely bizarre, they tend to be exaggerated and inappropriate. Sometimes they’re not true at all.
Grandiose delusions refer to an over-inflated sense of worth or power. These delusions convince someone that they are tremendously important. This importance gives them a false sense of identity.
People with grandiose delusions may come across as conceited or narcissistic. They may not be able to acknowledge their own mistakes or flaws. Instead, they blame issues on other people or circumstances.
Grandiose delusions are way beyond high self-esteem. People with grandiose delusions are also disconnected from the real world. For example, a person might truly believe he is immortal and cannot be touched by illness or death. Another might believe she is a religious leader or deity.
These people have difficulty getting along with others because of their delusions of grandeur. When other people challenge their irrational beliefs, they can become angry and reactive. They may continue to attempt to persuade others how and why the delusion is true.
Grandiose delusions can show up as a symptom of many different mental illnesses including:
- Delusional disorder
- Narcissistic personality disorder
- Traumatic brain injuries
Grandiose delusions are “fixed” thoughts. Individuals may have believed them for many years. They’re part of a person’s identity. That person won’t challenge these beliefs.
Bipolar grandiosity, on the other hand, tends not to last long. Symptoms usually escalate during a manic or hypomanic episode. They’re not present during other times, like a depressed episode. Grandiosity appears to be linked to other symptoms associated with bipolar disorder. As the mania or hypomania symptoms decrease (or disappear), the grandiosity often does as well.
Can Treatment Help Grandiosity?
While there isn’t a cure for bipolar disorder or grandiosity, treatment can help. The right services and tools can support individuals to live meaningful and fulfilling lives.
Most treatment tends to be multifaceted. Services depend on:
- The individual’s health history
- Their past treatment experiences
- The severity of the condition
The first step to any bipolar treatment is a proper evaluation. This evaluation will assess medical and psychiatric symptoms to confirm a person’s diagnosis.
Treatment usually consists of a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Psychotherapy focuses on identifying unhealthy thought patterns. Therapists work with clients to develop healthier ways to cope with distress. Therapy may also integrate family members for additional support.
Common medications for treating bipolar disorder include:
- Mood stabilizers
- Atypical antipsychotics
These medications can help relieve or reduce manic or hypomanic, during which bipolar grandiosity tends to appear. They can also help relieve depressed symptoms. All medications carry the risk of side effects, so a doctor should be involved in the process of finding the most effective medication.