Neurosis was first described by the Scottish doctor named William Cullen, it is a sensory and motor disorder that is associated with the nervous system. Its study belongs to clinical psychology because it causes a distortion of rational thought and affects the social functioning of the patient.

This is generally a confusing term because it is also used to refer to the maladjustment mechanisms associated with anxiety. It is also often used as a synonym for eccentricity and nervousness, unfortunately this is a misperception of a condition that is considerably serious.

This is a mental disorder that arises from an organic injury, a high level of anxiety that triggers a series of mechanisms that try to compensate for this instability. The patient begins to have difficulties to connect with reality , also develops repetitive behaviors that are intended to reduce the level of stress.

Neurosis can considerably modify the behavior of the person who suffers from it. The severity of it is variable because it depends on the reasons for which it has arisen, in the most chronic cases, hospitalization may be required. Below we delve into this topic by explaining what its symptoms, causes, types and treatments are.

What is neurosis?

Neurosis is a psychological characteristic that defines the personality of an individual. Also known as neurocytism or emotional instability , it usually refers to a negative emotional state that has a variable durability. In addition, it can aggravate the mental state if it is accompanied by anxiety, depression, guilt or anger.

It is a psychological disorder that can be controlled only if you do not suffer from depersonalization. That is, in the most serious cases, people can lose touch with reality . Unfortunately, the prognosis for patients cannot determine whether recovery is possible, since it depends on multiple factors. It is a disorder that deteriorates the health and quality of life of those who suffer from it.

Types of neurosis

Classification of the typology of the various varieties of neuroses can be carried out using different criteria. Usually the classic classification is taken as the main reference, which consists of three types of neuroses . Each one of them describes an existential void or way of facing life that nevertheless shows a distressing or behavior. They are usually characterized by uncertainty, desire, and their complex relationship with decision-making. Each of them is described below:

  • Obsessive and compulsive neurosis is characterized by manifesting an impossible desire, which is constituted from ideas that lack a specific objective. That is, this obsession is influenced by loss of control, doubt, guilt, and procrastination. Consequently the individual becomes obsessed with ideas that he cannot carry out.
  • Hysterical neurosis is characterized by manifesting an unsatisfied desire, it can be replaced by another that has the same characteristics. The desire is persistent and generates a feeling of loss, greatly influences the ability to choose. Patients frequently feel guilt and suffering, they are associated with somatic symptoms.
  • Phobic neurosis is characterized by expressing fear of having contact with something that is feared. This becomes a recurring thought that in turn limits the patient to certain activities, will promote evasive behavior that will direct the patient’s life.

On the other hand, other typologies are also included which take into account other causal aspects that are usually associated with neurosis . This is the case of traumas from negative experiences as well as depressive emotional states. What they are are described below:

  • Post- traumatic stress neurosis occurs from the eventual experience of negative situations such as accidents or the death of a loved one. People who must face these events will eventually begin to develop the symptoms of neurosis, these are similar to acute stress disorder.
  • Anxiety neurosis is usually considered a chronic condition. The patient manifests feeling intense anxiety and concern, this may be due to problems of a personal nature that he has begun to leave and important consequences.
  • Depression neurosis is characterized by manifested a low mood. The patient will no longer have interest and feel pleasure in performing certain actions that previously generated these responses. Deep and excessive sadness is experienced, it can last for a long period of time.

What are your symptoms?

Neurosis develops differently in each patient, this means that it is possible to observe psychological and physical symptoms that may not appear in other cases. In addition, it also depends on the type of neurosis that is being suffered, however it can be seen that there are symptoms in common. They are as follows:

  • The patient frequently suffers emotional distress. It is likely that in some days this symptom will not appear, however patients usually feel it almost daily.
  • They make it clear through various demonstrations that they have a low tolerance for spending time with other people. It is a social distancing and it can get worse over time.
  • They tend to show impulsive and irritable behavior. It is characterized by having moments that can be described as “explosions”, which implies that they become unpredictable people.
  • They tend to have difficulties interacting like other people. The social discomfort of this mental condition has a significant impact on the patient’s self-esteem.
  • They are usually described with the adjective of shy people. When the neurosis is at a low intensity level, people tend to be calmer and sometimes feel discomfort when integrating into certain social activities.
  • Sadness is a common element when the patient suffers from depression neurosis. It is also accompanied by a lack of interest in carrying out activities that generally provide pleasure and fun.
  • Anxiety is a constant in the life of patients. It is accompanied by feelings of guilt and anguish, which directly affects the ability to make decisions. You live in a state of permanent worry which has no apparent cause.
  • Among the physiological symptoms, the considerable increase in sweating in the hands was identified. Also headache and trouble falling asleep, some patients may be diagnosed with insomnia.
  • Obsessive and compulsive behaviors such as rituals and certain uncontrollable repetition of certain activities develop. For example, there is an obsession to make sure that door locks work correctly, for this it is constantly checked. Similarly, patients are prone to obsessing over order and symmetry.
  • Occasionally there is a feeling of weakness or loss of desire to work or engage in self-interest activities. Eventually the patient will cease to be an efficient, active and autonomous person.

What are the causes? 

Multiple factors can contribute to the development of the neurotic personality. Several external elements must be taken into account, to which there are people who are notably more sensitive. The most common example is found by those who adopt neurotic behavior during periods when seasonal changes occur. Also the stress of daily life is another determining factor, especially when it is an element present in the work or family environment.

The personal life of people can present difficult situations such as emotional deficiencies or the breakdown of the family nucleus . In these cases, it is remarkable how these events affect the mental stability of the patient, making it the ideal candidate for the development of mental conditions of this type. Otherwise, even parental overprotection is also another possible cause.

Some experts believe that neurotic people have a genetic inheritance that makes them prone to neurosis. This is a plausible hypothesis because a large part of psychological illnesses have this same origin.

Other hypotheses maintain that instead the events of the past, specifically those marked by mistreatment, abandonment, violence and abuse; they generate a specific type of trauma that is the cause of an eventual neurotic personality. Multiple environmental as well as social and cultural factors are also other elements to consider. This is the case of people who are more sensitive to pressures or responsibilities, which are awarded against their will.

Tips and treatments

The first step to find a solution to neurosis is to carry out a clinical interview , it must be carried out by a psychiatrist or a psychologist with experience in this matter. The diagnosis is mainly based on an interview, in which the patient will provide personal information to the doctor. During it, a series of multiple choice tests will probably be performed, however, depending on the doctor’s criteria, other alternatives may be applied.

The important thing during the diagnosis phase is to locate the causes of the origin of this behavior pattern . Thus, the most appropriate treatment can be selected, considering what the patient’s needs are that have priority to be treated. Depending on the level of severity, it may take several months to start to see results.

The most usual and recommended is the use of psychotherapy. This is a psychological treatment that is characterized by being structured from sessions where the patient interacts with the therapist. In this way, information is obtained about those thoughts, perceptions or interpretations that must be modified . This depends on how they have influenced and impaired mental stability, the level of severity of the neurosis could have to be treated also applying a pharmacological treatment.

Treatment should not only focus on providing relief on an emotional level. The various techniques used during treatment will be designed to bring about a positive change in miscognitions . These are responsible for the patient having suffered a psychological imbalance, it means an out-of-focus interpretation of themselves and of reality.

In those cases where the diagnosis includes anxiety and depression, the doctor proceeds to administer medications such as antidepressants and anxiolytics. Drug- based treatment usually only alleviates symptoms for a time. But it is necessary in case of observing acute symptoms, this is because they exceed the tolerance of the patient causing personal suffering.

Unfortunately this is not a condition that can be prevented , however a series of practices can be applied that will allow obtaining positive results in psychological and physical health. Healthy habits such as a healthy diet, encouraging social relationships, sheets, outdoor exercise or routines as a hobby; all are alternatives that must be taken into account.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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