Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by extreme moods swings from highs (mania or hypomania) to lows (depression). Symptoms of a depressive episode include lethargy, feelings of worthlessness and poor motivation. Symptoms of a hypomanic episode, on the other hand, might make one feel extremely energized (often to the point of not needing to sleep), self-important or grand, and highly motivated to achieve goals (sometimes at great risk to self).

Feeling like the greatest person in the world, thinking you have exceptional talent (maybe even supernatural talent), an exaggerated sense of pride, self-confidence and self-importance can make you, in a word, grandiose. To put it another way, you have a sense of grandiosity. You walk into a room and think everyone should admire you because you are absolutely fantastic.

During a hypomanic episode, grandiosity is quite typical.

But grandiose delusions are a little different, and are a sign of another mental health concern called psychosis.

Grandiose Delusions vs. Grandiosity

A delusion is a firmly-held belief that no amount of evidence or logic can contradict. There are many types of delusions, including grandiose delusions.

Thinking you are the greatest person ever is one thing, but acting like the greatest person ever is a little different.

For example, let’s consider a music teacher who has feelings of grandiosity during a hypomanic episode stemming from bipolar disorder. She thinks she can play piano better than anyone else. She shows off for her students and even tells them they could only dream of being as good as her. Her self-confidence, self-importance and sense of pride are all off the charts. She is feeling grandiose due to her hypomania.

Now let’s consider the music teacher during a grandiose delusion. She believes she is the best piano player in the world. She raises her rates to reflect this “fact.” She turns down invitations to play at small venues because these are “beneath her” and she should, in fact, be playing at huge concert halls. She is angry when people haven’t heard of her and she begins to tell people that she is friends with other talented musicians.

During delusions of grandeur, this hypothetical music teacher would take on a completely different persona. But during a hypomanic episode, her ego would simply appear to be inflated.

If you are attempting to assess the difference between grandiosity related to bipolar disorder and delusions of grandeur (grandiose delusions) on behalf of a friend or loved one, think about whether they are simply pretentious or if they are truly being delusional and unreasonable. How drastic are their actions? In the end, both are signs of serious mental health concerns and should be addressed by a psychiatrist to help determine the most effective treatment.



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