The 7 differences between mania and obsession

Mental health disorders are a source of hardship for a large number of people. These disorders are usually more complicated to detect than other pathologies with more obvious clinical manifestations, which makes it difficult for people affected by them to seek appropriate treatment.

Both mania and obsessions are types of mental disorders that we can suffer if the right accompanying conditions are in place. Being informed about their differences and characteristics facilitates among other things seek the necessary support by mental health professionals.

Definition of mania and obsession

Before commenting on their differences, let us look at their definitions to have a more complete and accurate knowledge about these disorders.

1. Mania

Mania is also known as manic syndrome. It is a mentally and emotionally altered state, where those affected temporarily experience emotions of euphoria or irritation at levels far higher than they normally perceive.

There are several types of mania depending on the intensity of the symptoms and the presence or absence of accompanying symptoms. Hypomania For example, it is a low-intensity manic state that does not usually have serious immediate consequences for those who suffer from it. As a matter of fact, Some people see their hypomanic states as it allows them to carry out tasks, for example creative, with greater ease

More severe types of mania do have more tangible effects on the lives of those affected, such as episodes of mania in people with type 1 bipolar disorder. These can evolve from a state of hypomania to a state of mania accompanied by psychosis or convulsions.

In general, the typical symptoms of mania are greater affective expression and emotional lability, accompanied by others such as lack of concentrationDecreased need for sleep or hyperactivity.

Depending on whether it’s about euphoric or irritating emotionsThe behaviour of the affected person will vary, being able to change from one to the other with ease, causing impulsive and even violent behaviour.

2. Obsession

Obsessions can be explained as ways of thinking that cause the mind of those affected clings over and over to a fixed idea. They are usually caused by psychological stress and anxiety, which in turn can aggravate in cases where the obsession does not go away on its own.

Although it is common that throughout our lives we suffer at some point from some repetitive and annoying thought, the impact it has on the general population is low. In people who already present some type of psychological or psychiatric pathology, obsessions occur more frequently and can evolve more easily into serious obsessions.

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Obsessive-compulsive disorder may occur when the subject needs to take action to minimize the unpleasant effects of their obsessions on their mental health, which can cause great discomfort and problems to function in daily life normally.

Differences between mania and obsession

Differences between mania and obsession

Both mania and obsession are terms used in the field of mental health to explain different disorders. The mania is characterized mainly by a state of heightened emotions, whether in the form of euphoria or irritation. Obsessions on the other hand, they are defined as intrusive fixations that can affect the quality of life of the people who suffer them, depending on their evolution.

Next we commented some of the differences between the two disordersfrom their symptoms to their evolution:

1. Mania is more dangerous for the affected person

Mania can be defined as an elevated state of mind, with major emotions that can be both euphoric and irritating. People affected by an episode of mania, especially those who also suffer from depressive episodes (such as people with bipolar disorder), have an increased risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts.

When the suicidal ideas, habitual in depressive disorders, are combined with the rise in energy and impulsivity of mania, a dangerous situation is obtained in which the affected person finds sufficient energy and motivation to realize his suicidal ideas.

2. Obsessions can occur in any individual

Obsessions occur when a thought becomes repetitive and recurrent, which can cause discomfort in the person who suffers them. The obsessions are very varied. and have a strong personal component, so the theme of obsession will also vary greatly between people, although there are some obsessions that are more typical than others.

We can all suffer from an obsession throughout our lives, without the need for an accompanying pathology to explain them. Mania, on the other hand, is a disorder of greater seriousness for the health of those affected, which is usually associated with more specific pathologies and is less prevalent.

3. Mania has a greater biological component

Part of the explanation of hobbies falls on people’s biology. There are several genetic and physiological factors predisposing to maniaespecially in cases of bipolar disorder.

Among these factors we can list some of neurological type, such as hypersensitivity to stimuli, as well as certain metabolic factorssuch as altered expression of the enzyme PKC (protein kinase C) or alterations in the activity of neurotransmitters such as dopamine.

4. They are associated with different disorders

Obsessions are not necessarily associated with an accompanying pathology, but it is common for people affected by obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or who have some type of obsessive personality disorder.

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Manias are also linked to mainly psychiatric disorders as bipolar disorder, although unlike obsessions can appear accompanying other pathologies, such as multiple sclerosis or some cardiovascular diseases.

5. Obsessions often go away on their own

The vast majority of obsessions have to resolve themselves over time without this seriously affecting the normal life of the affected. If maintained for a long time, they can cause strong feelings of anguish and anxiety, even turning into an obsessive disorder.

The mania on the other hand occurs in a periodic waywhere the individual “jumps” between different emotional states (from normality to mania, from depression to mania…). Manic states can hardly be resolved by themselves, unless they are caused by external elements.

6. Some substances can make mania worse

Some drugs that affect the hypothalamic-pituitary axis increase the likelihood of manic episodes, but can also be caused by medication such as antidepressants, which vary the metabolism of certain neurotransmitters, or by the use of anabolic steroids.

For the improvement of manic episodes, it is necessary to evaluate the medication of the patient who suffers them, as well as his education on the dangers of substance abuse, depending on the case.

7. Mania can be controlled with medication

Mania can’t normally be made to go away definitively with medication. The treatment of mania requires careful assessment of the underlying pathology and therapy that includes both appropriate medication and psychological support of the patient by a mental health professional.

Medications such as lithium are effective in significantly decreasing the frequency and intensity of episodes of mania, allowing those affected to lead a more stable life, which in addition to obtaining good psychological and mental habits, can be the key to the welfare of people suffer it.

Obsessions on the other hand, when not resolved by themselves, tend to improve mainly thanks to psychotherapy, with medication being a support to limit the negative effects of recurrent ideas.

Bibliographic references

  • Brondolo, Elizabeth; Amador, Xavier (2008). Break the Bipolar Cycle: A Day by Day Guide to Living with Bipolar Disorder.
  • Shin NY, Lee TY, Kim E, Kwon JS (2013). “Cognitive functioning in obsessive-compulsive disorder: a meta-analysis.” Psychological Medicine. Doi:10.1017/S0033291713001803.
  • Hanwella, R., & de Silva, V. A. (2011). Signs and symptoms of acute mania: a factor analysis. BMC psychiatry, 11, 137. doi:10.1186/1471-244X-11-137.