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Neurosis (neuroticism): causes, symptoms and characteristics

Neurosis (neuroticism): causes, symptoms and characteristics

November 29, 2023

The neurosis or neuroticism It is a psychological tendency to maintain certain difficulties for control and emotional management.

People suffering from high levels of neuroticism usually have low moods, close to depression or dysthymia, and show negative feelings such as envy, anger, anxiety, feeling guilty ... Neurotic people present this symptomatology much more frequently and severe that people who do not suffer from this condition.

Neurotic people: how to identify them

There are some signs and various symptoms with which we can identify a person with a propensity to neurosis . Neurotic people are especially vulnerable to changes in the environment, suffer more stress and are less able to cope with it.

On the other hand, neuroticism refers to emotional management problems in practically all areas of a person's life, not in a few. Neurosis is the concept that is studied through scales and evaluations of neuroticism.

People who suffer neurosis tend to be more afraid of situations that other people tolerate and handle effectively. They tend to perceive reality in a more negative way than it really is, and they easily despair of small frustrations that, in the eyes of others, are not very important.

The neurotic personality and its comorbidity

Individuals with neurosis usually also present other relevant characteristics, such as anxiety, a greater presence of depressive symptoms or the tendency to shyness. People who are prone to neurosis also often have phobias and panic disorders.

Neurosis is a psychological disorder that makes sufferers suffer, but it is a relatively manageable condition, since there is no presence of serious symptoms that are usually associated with psychosis, such as delusions and hallucinations.

In neurosis, the individual remains in contact with reality; there is no depersonalization . Patients who score high on the scale of neuroticism are emotionally unstable and are less able to manage their discomfort and stress with respect to those who score low on neuroticism.

People who do not have neurosis tend to be relaxed, are more able to deal with high levels of stress and are more willing to face the challenges of everyday life.

Signs and symptoms

The most common symptoms and signs among neurotic people are the following:

  • Permanent feeling of sadness
  • Apathy and lack of interest in carrying out pleasant activities
  • Problems in their personal relationships due to their low tolerance towards others
  • High sensitivity and susceptibility
  • They are irritable, aggressive and frustrated
  • Emotionally unstable

Neuroticism and the difficulties of relating and communicating

In addition to the symptoms and characteristics already described, neurotic people often have problems in their workplace, as well as in all areas where there is coexistence with other people , to the point where, in severe cases, they can act as psychological abusers.

In addition, they usually have in common a worse dexterity to make good decisions. All these symptoms, if not treated and encyst in the personal life of the neurotic, can lead to severe depression and isolation.

Neuroticism and its resemblance to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Another style of coping with neurosis is that of some people who develop, little by little, recurring thoughts and worries about catastrophic events that could happen , even when there is no rational element that justifies them. That is, it is very easy to focus attention on unrealistic concerns, without too much empirical foundation or simply based on something that objectively has a power to affect their very limited quality of life.

Faced with these negative thoughts, some neurotic individuals may try to counteract the chances of the catastrophe actually occurring, using certain mental rituals or repeated behaviors that can be confused with those of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Social isolation: a problem associated with neurosis?

The set of symptoms and characteristics of individuals suffering from some degree of neurosis can cause people in their environment to move away from them, because they are seen as strange and eccentric. This it can lead to a certain seclusion and social isolation .

In other cases, anxiety and stress may rise over time, greatly complicating the daily life of these patients, who live in constant tension.Usually, they are people who feel easily hurt; they live in a state of constant anxiety and with the feeling that something bad can happen to them from one moment to the next.

Neurosis, insomnia and somatization

There are other problems that, very frequently, refer to neurotic people. One of them is the difficulty in falling asleep, a fact that makes them feel tired during the day.

Other patients also refer to problems of somatization and similar: strange heart sensations, excessive sweating, feeling of suffocation or fear of dying at any time ... These are symptoms that coincide with the classic anxiety disorder.


Within what we know as neurosis are a series of symptoms and affectations that negatively influence the quality of life of the person who suffers.

Of course, there is psychological treatment to minimize the effect of neurosis on the mental health of the sufferer . Psychotherapy helps to regain emotional balance and reduce the incidence of many of the symptoms described above. Going to a specialist in these cases can help the neurotic person to improve in many aspects, in addition to a diagnosis and personalized treatment.

On the other hand, the emotional alterations typical of what has been classically known as neurosis can be so pronounced that it is necessary to combine psychological intervention with pharmacological treatments. This is especially relevant in cases in which the symptoms associated with the mood appear together with others that are of the psychotic type.

Bibliographic references:

  • Fenichel, O. (1945) The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis. New York: Norton.
  • Ladell, R.M. and T.H. Hargreaves (1947). "The Extent of Neurosis". Br Med J. 2 (4526): pp. 548-549.

40 Signs That You Are Neurotic - Understanding Neurosis (November 2023).

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