Neurosis: definition, symptoms, causes and treatment.


Neurosis is characterized by compulsive thinking, anxiety, distress, and a certain level of dysfunction in everyday tasks. Neurotic behavior is the result of a neurosis or neuroticism. While research in this area is sparse, a study in Xi'an, China, found that the estimated lifetime prevalence of any neurotic disorder is 10.8%. Specific phobias (5.7%), obsessive compulsive disorders (3.8%), and social phobias (1.3%) are among the most common subtypes.

Neurosis versus anxiety

Of all the diagnoses you can find in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), neurosis is not one of them. "Neurosis" became a footnote in the 1970s in the DSM-3 version, and was later removed entirely in later editions.

A neurotic is more associated with anxiety or overthinking than with a mental disorder. However, without any help, neuroticism, surrounded by unhealthy coping mechanisms and stressful environments, can lead to anxiety disorders .

Anxiety disorders can include:

  • Separation anxiety disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Specific phobia
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder or panic attack disorder
  • Substance or medication anxiety disorder


If you're wondering if you have a neurosis, ask yourself if you've ever experienced any of the following symptoms or characteristics:

  • Anxiety and apprehension
  • Excessive anxiety and guilt
  • Tendency to have more negative emotions and reactions.
  • Irritability and anger
  • Low self-esteem and self-awareness.
  • Poor response to stressors
  • Interpret everyday situations as threatening
  • Depression
  • Emotional instability

If you are concerned that a friend or family member may be neurotic, consider the following:

  • You constantly need comforting (even in the little things and things that you have previously confirmed)
  • Excessive dependence on others or codependency in relationships
  • Communicate about their dissatisfaction or stress.
  • Conflict with others due to lack of emotional stability or the ability to recover.
  • Perfectionist tendencies or obsession with ideas
  • Gets out of control every time you try to strike up a serious conversation

Of course, these symptoms do not necessarily mean that your loved one is neurotic. But if this is a pattern of behavior over time and it is causing them distress, you should encourage them to seek help from a mental health professional.


If left untreated, neurosis can turn into more serious health problems for you and your relationship. This is because neuroticism affects your mental health and your ability to function in your daily life.

Physical complications over time can include:

Neurosis can also lead to other health complications, including:

  • Presumed and actual family problems (family dissatisfaction)
  • Decrease in labor productivity and professional rejection.
  • Increased vulnerability to conditions such as eating disorders, mood disorders, and mental disorders in trying to cope with the emotional instability of neuroticism.


Researchers have identified a link between neuroticism and mental disorders and a lower quality of life, but have not identified an exact cause. Several factors are believed to influence the development of neuroticism.


People who have a family history of neuroticism may be more likely to have it. The evidence to support this includes:

  • Twin studies suggest a genetic overlap between different traits of neuroticism, as well as other anxiety disorders.
  • The G72 gene, which plays a role in the functioning of glutamate (a neurotransmitter responsible for proper brain function), has also been associated with neuroticism, but these findings are not consistent.
  • Genetic studies of neuroticism have found a small but notable difference in one of the serotonin transporter genes associated with emotion processing.


Both a shared environment (shared by family members) and an undivided environment, such as a child's individual class, are associated with the likelihood of developing neurotic traits.

A large-scale twin study of more than 3,330 Dutch twins found that shared environment was negligible compared to undivided environment in predicting future neurotic behavior, meaning that events outside of their home may have a greater impact. However, this is due more to the interaction of genes and the environment than to the conclusion that shared environments have no influence.

Mental health conditions associated with neurotic behavior include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Use of psychoactive substances
  • Psychological stress
  • Personality disorder
  • Obsessive disorders
  • Phobia


If neurotic behavior becomes a problem, you can talk to your GP or psychiatrist. Your doctor will most likely perform a physical exam and order lab tests to determine the cause of your symptoms.

While you will not be diagnosed with neuroticism, you may be diagnosed with a mental disorder if the behavior causes severe distress and relationship problems.

Watch out

If the neurosis is due to an underlying mental disorder, you and your healthcare team will discuss the best treatment for this diagnosis.


Your GP or psychiatrist can prescribe the appropriate medications to help reduce symptoms associated with disorders such as anxiety, depression, and others. Medications help change the brain chemistry that underlies neurotic behavior.

Common medications prescribed for psychiatric disorders associated with neuroticism include:

  • Medications for anxiety reduce anxiety and related symptoms, such as nervousness or anxiety. A commonly prescribed example is benzodiazepine, which works quickly, but people can develop tolerance.
  • Antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors can be used to treat symptoms of depression.


Various forms of talk therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, can help eliminate negative thought patterns and help a person change unhealthy forms of self-control. It can also be helpful in helping a person identify their neurotic behavior and how it contributes to other problems they are experiencing.

Changes in lifestyle

Coping with your own neurotic behavior can be exhausting. The practice of self-awareness and awareness of what can cause this behavior are important and constant steps in the management of neurosis. Once you know what is aggravating your neuroticism, you can make some or all of the following positive lifestyle changes to support your mental health:

  • Make a list of no : Lists can help you set limits during the day when stressful situations arise. If you're not sure what to do and don't know what to do, check out the list.
  • Be proactive about your triggers : For example, if you know that if you go to bed too many times a week later than usual, there is almost always an increase in symptoms or neurotic behavior, make bedtime your top priority.
  • Practice breathing exercises : They help you deal with shallow breathing associated with anxiety, which deprives your body and brain of oxygen, which can then escalate to full-blown anxiety or panic attacks.
  • Download a meditation or sleep story app to help you overcome stressful situations and improve your sleep. Use apps that track mindfulness, write notes, or document your mood so you can see your progress over time.


Neuroticism is not a mental disorder, but a personality trait. It is characterized by obsessive thinking and anxiety. However, it can sometimes contribute to the development of a mental disorder such as anxiety disorder. This is not something you can cure, but you can reduce neurotic behavior by studying and managing your triggers and developing healthy ways to deal with daily stress.

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between neurosis and psychosis?

Neurosis is a personality trait, while psychosis is a symptom that affects the way your brain processes information. During a psychotic episode, you may hear, see, and believe things that are unreal and lose touch with reality.

How to cure neurosis naturally?

You can't really cure a personality trait, but you can learn to manage it by being aware of what triggers your behavior, such as a high-stress environment or feeling out of control, and what aggravates your symptoms. Then you can address these issues directly and reduce neurotic behavior.

There is no specific diet for people with neurosis, but the link between nutrition and mental health is well known: what you eat nourishes what you feel. This is largely due to the fact that most of the serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for emotions, is produced in the gastrointestinal tract. Add fresher, more vibrant foods to your plate and consider speaking with a nutritionist to develop a healthy diet.

Get the word of drug information

Some people have more neurotic tendencies than others, and this does not mean that something is wrong with you. This is not a mental disorder. However, if you start to feel like your neuroticism is taking over your mood or is in more control than you are, it's time to talk to someone. Eliminating the cause of your behavior can help you make meaningful changes and manage these personality traits so they don't interfere with your daily life.

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