Everything You Need to Know about Neuroticism

You’ll undoubtedly feel anxious from time to time. Waiting for your interview to start, a tight financial budget, and not knowing your child’s whereabouts are examples of everyday things that will surely make you worry.

However, if you constantly experience intense anxiety such that it becomes hard for you to go about your daily life, you may be grappling with neurosis.

In this article, you’ll learn what neurotic behavior means and its typical causes. We also provide you with 16 examples of neurotic tendencies, practical tips for managing the trait, and, more importantly, tell you how online counseling can help, and why to read therapy sites review before seeking help. Let’s get started.

What Does Neurotic Behavior Mean?

People might term someone as neurotic, meaning the person exhibits drastic and irrational psychological, emotional, or even physical reactions.

Neurotic behavior is essentially a habit characterized by extreme thoughts and actions that end up significantly affecting your personal, romantic, and professional lifestyle. Even when dealing with small issues, your response will tend to be pretty extreme.

It’s important to note that neuroticism is not a diagnosis. Today, doctors will often put neurosis symptoms in the same place as an anxiety disorder. As such, it’s safe to say that neurosis falls under the anxiety umbrella.

What Causes Neurotic Behaviors?

A neurotic personality trait can cause you to have neurotic tendencies. It is one of the “Big Five” personality traits identified by experts along with the following:

  • Extroversion;
  • Agreeableness;
  • Conscientiousness, and;
  • Openness to experience.

Mental disorders can also lead to neurotic tendencies. Experts also say that there’s a connection between neurotic personality and genetics.

Neurosis Vs. Psychosis: What’s The Connection?

Despite referring to different types of illnesses, the terms neurosis and psychosis are both used to describe mental health issues. In comparison, psychosis represents a more severe mental disorder, while neurosis explains a variety of emotional and behavioral issues that are frequently rooted in anxiety.

Anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and depression are among the symptoms of neurosis that are frequently present. These illnesses don’t always involve a complete loss of reality, but they can be distressing and disruptive to daily living. Most people with neurosis can interact with others, maintain good connections, and have an insight into their condition.

Neurotic tendencies don’t entail hallucinations or delusions. Rather, these are signs of psychosis, a condition that is characterized by losing touch with reality. With neurosis, you’ll tend to obsess over your unpleasant emotions and shortcomings, whether imagined or real.

While there is no direct connection between neurosis and psychosis, some people with neurosis may develop psychotic symptoms in response to stress or other triggers. This is known as a psychotic break, and it can be a very distressing and scary experience. However, most people with neurosis do not develop psychosis.

Neuroticism as a Descriptor – What It Means

As mentioned earlier, neuroticism is not a diagnosis. Instead, it is essentially a descriptor used for various disorders. Let’s break down neurotic behavior some more.

Emotional instability, anxiety, irritability, and susceptibility to stress are characteristics of neuroticism, a personality trait. Negative emotions are more frequently and deeply felt by persons with high neuroticism scores compared to those with low neuroticism scores.

It’s crucial to understand that having a high level of neuroticism does not imply that a person suffers from a mental health condition or is unable to carry out daily tasks. Instead, it is a personality characteristic that indicates a tendency to feel unhappy or upset more often and strongly than other people.

Techniques and therapies that aid with stress, anxiety, and negative emotions management may be helpful for those with higher levels of neuroticism. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based therapies, or stress-relieving exercises like meditation may all be part of this. 

Extreme Worry Is the Underlying Symptom

You can tell that you are neurotic if you always have extreme worry. Of course, worry can point to anxiety, but it also implies neuroses. As a neurotic person, you’ll fret about your actions and how people around you see you.

Often, you’ll seek reassurance from others since you fear that they do not like you. As such, you can cause distress to people around by constantly asking questions like, “have I wronged you?” “Are you okay with me?”

Neuroticism Can Be a Positive Thing

While high levels of neuroticism are often associated with negative outcomes, such as increased risk of anxiety, depression, and stress-related disorders, neuroticism can also have positive aspects.

Research has shown that neurotic persons have a lot of empathy and are pretty sensitive. While they may be susceptible to depression and even anxiety, they easily understand other’s feelings and will always want to assist them.

Moreover, neuroticism has been linked to higher levels of artistic talent and inventiveness. People with high neuroticism tend to be more open to fresh experiences and concepts, which might boost their creativity and originality in their work.

Moreover, those with high neuroticism tend to be meticulous and conscientious. They might be more concerned with their job’s caliber or performance, which could inspire them to put in more effort and generate better outcomes.

The adverse effects of high degrees of neuroticism, such as a higher risk of mental health illnesses, may outweigh these favorable features of neuroticism; it is crucial to remember that. Consequently, it is vital to create development strategies for any undesirable parts of neuroticism while also embracing any potential benefits.

Perhaps the most important to understand is that anxiety or neuroticism do not make you a terrible human being. After all, you can relate with what others feel, and thus, will want to help them in any way.

16 Examples of Neurotic Tendency

What behaviors show that you are neurotic?

Many things can be deemed neurotic. Here are 16 common examples of such behaviors:

1. Drinking Alcohol and Substance Abuse

Neurotic persons often turn to alcohol and other drugs to dumb their emotional problems. If this habit is left unchecked, addiction is undoubtedly imminent.

Alcohol and substance abuse can be a way for some individuals to cope with stress and negative emotions. In this sense, alcohol and substance abuse can be seen as a maladaptive coping mechanism for dealing with underlying emotional issues. People with high neuroticism may be more likely to use alcohol or drugs to cope with stress or negative emotions, but not everyone who drinks or abuses drugs is neurotic.

It’s also important to note that alcohol and substance abuse can have a range of causes, including genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. While neuroticism may be one of these factors, it is not the sole determinant of whether someone will develop a substance abuse problem.

2. Excessive Spending or Shopping

As a neurotic person, you’ll tend to engage in activities that distract you from your negative obsessions. Unnecessary spending or shopping is an excellent example of things you might start engaging in to take your mind off issues. If this habit goes on, it can lead to financial strain down the line.

3. Obsessing Over Your Hobby or Other Fun Activities

Hobbies are an excellent way to relax. However, if you have neurosis, you’ll likely have an obsession with a particular hobby or fun activity such that it becomes unhealthy. When you continue leading your life like this for the long term, you are bound to miss out on other essential life responsibilities.

4. Intense Sadness Over Small Issues

Being sad over a major event in your life is entirely normal. Nonetheless, constantly crying over minor failures and little happenings may point to neuroticism. If you are extremely saddened by losing a bracelet from a former romantic partner, your child not needing you anymore, or being stood up for a date, you are likely neurotic.

It’s totally understandable that even small issues can trigger sadness. However, if you let the despair fester in you to the point where it undermines your daily lifestyle, you exhibit neurotic tendencies.

5. Negative Reactions to Neutral Happenings

Do you overreact when something neutral happens?

If something neutral happens and you get upset, you are definitely neurotic. For example, the mail person might put your mail on your doorstep instead of knocking on your door to check if you are in.

You are right if this gets you slightly mad, but it can point to neuroticism if you feel outraged for this despite getting all the contents in the mail in tip-top condition.

A neutral event is essentially anything a third person does that might affect you or not. Often, it’s impact is negligible.

6. Inability to Function in Daily Life After an Unrelated Trauma

Post-traumatic stress disorder can be deemed to be a form of neurotic tendency. You might have been at war, and if a loud bang triggers a relapse, you are said to have experienced a neurotic incident. In the same vein, you might have been a victim of an abusive parent as a kid. If you get scared when all alone as a grown-up, you are likely experiencing neuroticism.

7. Obsessive Planning and Control Over One’s Schedule

Neurotic disorders are often linked with an obsessive need to plan for everything. So, such a person is not the spontaneous kind. Instead, they usually have a compulsive need to plan every little detail about their day. It could include everything from what they wear to what they eat and when they do so.

If a plan is canceled or altered, more so, on short notice, the person can feel overwhelmed and out of control.

8. Constant Irritability

Constantly getting angry at the slightest things and with no provocation is neuroticism in most cases. In this case, you find yourself complaining about minor issues or snapping at your friends, family, or colleagues for no reason.

It’s crucial to get professional assistance if you are constantly irritable in order to identify the underlying cause and create a successful treatment strategy. A mental health specialist can evaluate your symptoms, determine a diagnosis if necessary, and suggest the best course of action, which may include therapy or medication.

In addition to seeking professional assistance, there are various self-care practices that may help control irritation. They include engaging in practices like deep breathing or meditation, routine exercise, getting adequate sleep, and upholding a nutritious diet. Techniques for reducing stress, such as mindfulness and cognitive-behavioral therapy, can also be helpful in controlling irritability and other neurotic symptoms.

9. Extreme Fear of Illness or Germs

Neurotic behavior may sometimes show itself as a severe fear of catching a disease. A person may constantly and obsessively worry about symptoms of a severe medical condition.

Or they may have an unrealistic belief that they are at risk of contracting particular illnesses. Often, this fear is a result of misinterpreting particular body functions.

Because of the deep fear of contracting a disease, such a person will do everything they can to stay free of germs. That includes obsessively cleaning themselves and areas around them.

10. Obsessive Cleanliness

Another trait of someone with this disorder is unrealistic cleanliness standards. People who have neurosis will often exhibit an obsession to clean anything and everything. This behavior is usually a result of a deep-set fear of germs and diseases. So, a person who has this disorder will want to make sure that everything they interact with is germ-free.

11. Excessive Guilt Over the Smallest Thing

A person suffering from neuroticism and neurosis may feel overly guilty over small mistakes or even events that aren’t their fault.

Such a person will usually overthink and minor errors that probably no one noticed. They may exhibit guilty behavior like profusely apologizing even if you’ve already explained that it’s okay or hang their head low of shame.

12. A Need for Things to Be Perfect

Neurotic behavior is linked with perfectionism. So, you will find some people with this disorder go beyond wanting to do well to trying to make something perfect. So, they will take more time performing tasks in a bid to achieve perfect results.

Often, they will show extreme disappointment over small mistakes and may want to do tasks all over again to achieve perfection.

13. Extreme Restlessness

Excessive fidgeting or restlessness is often a sign of anxiety and neuroticism. A person with this type of problem will display habits such as biting their nails, pulling their hair, cracking their knuckles, scratching their skin, etc.

They may do these things despite causing themselves harm or pain. The problem may be worsened by situations such as being in a social setting or not feeling in control of something.

14. Loss of Interest in Hobbies

A person with neurosis may start to show disinterest in things or activities that they used to enjoy. For example, you may feel like you no longer want to go hiking despite enjoying it since childhood. Losing interest in one activity is expected.

But if you suddenly don’t feel like doing most of the things you typically enjoy, then it may point toward a mental health issue. This behavior is usually a result of excessive emotional stress.

 15. A Need to Control a Spouse or Partner

Trying to control a partner’s every move or behavior usually points to neurosis. In this case, a person will obsess over fixing their partner to fit a particular image. They will point out flaws in their character and try to make their partner’s change.

Controlling behavior in a relationship can take many forms, such as monitoring your partner’s activities, isolating them from friends and family, dictating their clothing or conduct, or making decisions for them without their input. This behavior is often driven by a need for power or a fear of losing control.

16. Overdependence or Clinginess

People with neurotic tendencies may often exhibit dependence on other people. A person with this kind of issue will often complain about tasks and problems, expecting the other person to do the work or solve the problem for them.

They will almost always not make an effort to cater to their own needs and will instead expect other people to take care of them. This overdependence is often linked with irresponsibility and even clinginess.

Neurosis Treatment and Management Tips

You can actually manage and eventually overcome symptoms of neurosis. That is, by focusing on getting your anxiety and stress under control. That said, here are some practical, at-home you can start practicing today:

  • Make it a habit to work out every day: regular exercise can help elevate your mood, induce relaxation, and lower your stress and anxiety levels.
  • Get adequate sleep: lack of sleep can enhance neurosis by making you more irritable. So, ensure you sleep an average of 8 hours a night.
  • Fight negative thought patterns: start replacing destructive thoughts with productive ones to help keep your anxiety in check.
  • Focus on eating healthy and enough: fight irritability and stress by eating well-balanced meals. Also, try not to skip meals so that you don’t experience extreme dips in your energy levels.
  • Track your behavior: start writing down instances of your neurotic behaviors when they occur so that you can identify your triggers and address them.

Remember that neuroticism takes time to overcome. So be patient with yourself during the process. It always helps to talk to someone about your thoughts and feelings. Such a person could be anyone you trust; a friend, partner, or family member. If you don’t have someone you trust, consider talking to a therapist.

How Therapy Can Help You in Dealing with Neurosis

Neurosis can negatively affect various areas of your life, including work, relationships with your family, and even your social interactions. However, you can treat it with the above tips and professional psychological care.

A qualified therapist will help you identify your behavioral patterns, unpack your traumas and triggers, and finally deal with the problem. So, if you’re dealing with neurosis or other related mental health issues like anxiety, stress disorder, and depression, online therapy can help.

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