Compulsion, mania and addiction: understand the difference and how to treat

There are several conditions that need professional monitoring in order to carry out the appropriate and effective treatment. This is the case, for example, with problems such as compulsion, mania (it is not a pathology) and addictions. Check out the difference between them and learn more about how to treat:


What is the difference between compulsion, mania and addiction?

The difference between compulsion, mania and addiction can be a little complicated to understand. While manias do not form a pathological condition , compulsion and addiction may need treatment to avoid harming the individual’s quality of life.

In psychology and psychiatry, the term “mania” indicates an episode of high spirits, common in conditions such as bipolar disorder . However, in popular language, the same term is used to refer to repetitive behaviors, such as running your hand through your hair or drumming your fingers whenever in contact with a surface, for example.

Despite being an often involuntary behavior, manias can be stopped at any time, that is, the individual has control over his behavior.

Compulsion and addiction cases are considered a pathology. And, in reality, the concept of addiction encompasses the concept of compulsion.

The compulsion when the individual is in spite of performing the behavior several times in a short time, do not feel satisfied and back to do so. In general, it helps to combat a feeling of discomfort or anxiety , however, such relief lasts for a short time and the individual soon needs to perform the action again to feel good again.

In addition, unlike addiction, compulsion is not just limited to substances of abuse, such as alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs. Anything can become a compulsion, such as overeating, shopping, placing bets, among others.

The addiction , in turn, is the compulsive need to do something or consume a substance that brings significant psychological changes when the individual can not perform the compulsive action.

What this means is that if a person has a compulsion, they will engage in compulsive behavior when possible. However, it will not necessarily look bad if it fails to do so.

An example is binge eating: the individual eats a lot during the reserved times to eat, but when he is not eating, he does not necessarily feel bad because he is not eating.

In addiction, the person feels bad because he is not performing the compulsive action when he cannot do it. This is the case of the person who is ill because he cannot smoke inside the plane, for example.

Alcohol and tobacco are examples of habits that can become addictions.

In the case of substances, addiction can be accompanied by chemical dependency , that is, the body starts to need that substance to remain functional. However, this does not mean that addiction only occurs with drugs. Addiction to placing bets, online games or social networks, for example, is a reality.

Although they do not cause chemical dependency on their own, the person can be extremely distressed because he is not gambling, gambling or using the internet, for example, which characterizes the addiction.

Is compulsion a disease?

Compulsion is not considered a disease in itself, but it is a symptom of several disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder ( OCD ), binge eating, addiction to chemicals, among others.

Although it is not a disease in itself, compulsion often has harmful consequences for the individual. Therefore, when you notice signs of compulsion, it is recommended to seek expert help.

Compulsion, mania and addiction: do they need treatment?

The manias do not need treatment because often the individual can stop them without suffering emotional consequences. Compulsion and addiction can, in most cases, require specialized treatment.

This is because both compulsion and addiction are not in the control of the individual and, therefore, can have very harmful consequences – which covers both the emotional and psychological point of view, as well as the material side.

Mild compulsions may not need treatment, as they often do not harm the person’s daily life. However, it is necessary to be careful with more serious compulsions, which demand a lot of time in the day or have very negative consequences.

For example, people with untreated addictions and compulsions can experience financial , health and even interpersonal problems . It is also common to feel guilty after performing the compulsion, also causing emotional damage to the individual.

Still, in cases of compulsion and addiction, comorbidities such as depression , anxiety disorders, avoidance behavior, changes in sleep, among others , are common .

How to overcome addictions and compulsions?

In general, the treatment of addictions and compulsions is done with the help of a specialized professional, either directly or indirectly. So, it may be that the individual receives guidance to practice “exercises” on his own, or do a direct treatment with the professional.

Anyway, some things that can be done to overcome addictions and compulsions are:

Self knowledge

Knowing yourself is of the utmost importance in dealing with any mental health issue . When it comes to addictions and compulsions, it would be no different.

Not infrequently, addictions and compulsions are rooted in feelings and thoughts of which we are not fully aware. Therefore, taking note of this can help to improve these addictions and compulsions.

So investing in self-knowledge is a great idea. What can be done from therapies, psychological counseling and even from alternative practices (such as yoga).

Record of events

Some compulsions are “activated” by certain events, called “triggers”. So, recording events in a notebook or cell phone, for example, can help the person to identify what are the triggers that lead them to such behaviors.

In this way, it is possible to avoid situations that trigger compulsive behaviors.

However, care must be taken not to end up developing avoidance behavior, which is when the person at all costs avoids a wide variety of situations to avoid the triggers that may arise. This is also a detrimental factor to mental health.

Look for other ways to relieve discomfort

In general, people often exhibit compulsive behaviors because they do not know how to relieve discomfort in other ways.

Increasing the behavioral repertoire, that is, adopting new behaviors to alleviate discomfort and afflictions is of extreme help to combat compulsions. So, for example, if whenever a person is sad they shop compulsively, they can try to replace this behavior with others such as: going to the park, talking to a friend, exercising, etc.

It is important to note that this increase in behavioral repertoire must be quite varied , otherwise, it is possible that the person will end up just developing a new compulsion!

Avoid feelings of guilt

Sometimes, relapsing and repeating compulsive behavior is normal and part of the walk. However, it is common for people to end up blaming themselves when this happens.

Blaming yourself is far from a good thing, especially because it increases the discomfort the person feels, which can cause him to repeat the compulsion even more often!

So, avoid blaming yourself , as it will be possible to move forward with the fight against addictions and compulsions.

Seek professional help

The help of a psychologist or psychiatrist can be essential to overcome addictions and compulsions, depending on the severity of the situation. So, if you can’t get rid of compulsive behavior, don’t hesitate to seek help!

With this, the professional will use the appropriate approach for your case, considering your individualities and looking for the best way to treat your problem.

Which professional to look for?

In order to receive a diagnosis and adequately treat compulsions and addictions, it is necessary to look for two professionals: the psychiatrist and the psychologist .

The psychiatrist will be able to make an accurate diagnosis of the situation and indicate an appropriate treatment, which may include the use of psychiatric medications.

In some cases, it may be necessary to use medications to treat compulsion and addiction.

The psychologist, on the other hand, will be able to work with compulsions on a daily basis, guiding the patient with techniques to prevent compulsive behaviors, as well as helping to work on any thoughts and feelings that may be behind these compulsions.

One of the techniques that the psychologist can use to treat compulsions is the gradual exposure to situations that can be triggers for the compulsion. This exposure, followed by a technique to prevent compulsive behaviors, can help the patient to disassociate the situation from the trigger to the compulsion .