Is There a Link Between Bipolar Disorder and Narcissism?

Living with bipolar disorder can come with many different challenges. An individual facing challenges with this condition may experience extreme changes in certain areas. This may include their energy levels, sleep patterns, and even in their ability to process their thoughts. The negative effects associated with this mental health condition can impact a person’s mood significantly. Part of bipolar disorder is having episodes of mania, which can increase feelings of grandiosity. Bipolar grandiosity can often mimic narcissistic traits. While bipolar disorder and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are two different mental health conditions, their symptoms can overlap. Fortunately, there are professional treatment options to help manage bipolar disorder and narcissism.

What Is Bipolar Grandiosity?

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), bipolar disorder can cause a heightened sense of self-esteem in an individual. This is also known as bipolar grandiosity. He or she may present extreme self-confidence.

Individuals presenting grandiosity may exaggerate their abilities to function on a day-to-day basis. He or she may strongly believe they a phenomenal artist or intelligent inventor. An individual may come off as a sharp businessman or think they are a powerful healer. In reality, he or she may have no special experience or credentials to support these statements. He or she may feel knowledgeable or have a strong sense of importance. Bipolar grandiosity can occur in both hypomanic and manic episodes.

Professionals do not know the cause of bipolar grandiosity. Studies have found that during manic or hypomanic episodes, the chemistry in the brain changes. Although grandiose ideations are a symptom of bipolar disorder, not everyone will experience these effects.

How to Recognize Narcissism

As stated by MedlinePlus, narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), is a psychological disorder in which an individual may experience extreme preoccupation with themselves. An individual may feel overwhelming feelings of importance yet have a lack of empathy for their surroundings. Although there is no known cause for NPD, insensitive parenting during a person’s childhood upbringing may be a factor in developing narcissistic traits.

Learning to recognize signs of NPD can be difficult, especially when the individual may focus on the bright side of themselves most of the time. Researching the background of NPD and taking simple steps to recognize the symptoms associated with the condition can improve a person’s mental health. Symptoms of NPD can vary but individuals may:

  • Require a strong sense of admiration from others
  • Feel they deserve special treatment
  • Make achievements seem more impressive than they are
  • Brag a lot or seem conceited

The Connection Between Bipolar Disorder and Narcissism

Although bipolar disorder and narcissism are two different mental health conditions, a person with bipolar disorder may experience grandiose symptoms or have co-occurring NPD. An individual with bipolar disorder may experience periods of normal moods, depression, and mania, but express impulsive yet risky behaviors. Going on spending sprees, gambling, behaving promiscuously, binge eating and more are just a few examples of impulsivity. During these intense periods of euphoria, the individual with bipolar disorder may present narcissistic behaviors such as bipolar grandiosity but may not truly have NPD.

Individuals with bipolar disorder and NPD may experience irregular sleep patterns but present different energy levels. According to a research review published in the Journal of Research in Personality, individuals facing challenges with bipolar disorder and narcissism may share similarities such as setting excessively high goals or, as stated previously, impulsivity.

Clinicians have studied the temperamental patterns, intelligence, and charisma in individuals with both disorders and found that restlessness is a shared symptom. Research has found that bipolar individuals with mania behave impulsively due to difficulties with concentration. Whereas individuals with narcissistic traits act out of impulse because they lack empathy or unrealistically believe they can do certain things. Therefore, bipolar disorder and narcissistic personality disorder symptoms can resemble each other.

Effective Treatment Options for Bipolar Disorder and Narcissism

For people who are facing challenges with bipolar grandiosity and NPD, it is comforting to know there are different treatment options for managing symptoms. Outside of practicing self-care and trying self-help strategies, certain medications may help benefit individuals with these conditions. Professional mental health treatment such as psychotherapy can be a more natural option to try.

Psychotherapy in combination with prescribed medications can be a good treatment plan for those who need it most. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that can teach individuals to better recognize their thought patterns and change them. By doing this, an individual’s behaviors and emotions can be improved. Treatment requires a strong sense of motivation for individuals with narcissism to stay dedicated to working toward their goals.

Moreover, reaching out to friends and family can always provide emotional support and useful direction. Taking time to research the background of each mental health condition can help. Staying updated on certain treatment options is important as they may evolve. Taking time to journal symptoms and communicating concerns to a mental health provider can improve the outcome of one’s plan of care. Pursuing treatment can overall improve one’s quality of life.

While bipolar disorder and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are two different mental health conditions, their symptoms can overlap. Both of these conditions can be difficult to manage alone without professional help. As a licensed and Joint Commission-accredited mental health treatment center, 12 South Recovery is a leader in Orange County mental health treatment. By working with an expert mental health therapist at 12 South Recovery, you can learn to identify and change negative beliefs, emotions, actions, and thoughts. You can also learn to manage stressful situations more effectively. Psychotherapy such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help. Call 12 South Recovery at (888) 830-8374 to learn how our team can help with the symptoms of bipolar disorder and NPD. 

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