There are a lot of behavioural patterns that are often seen as neurotic these days. Even the most common forms of quirks, traits, tics, and foibles are seen as “neurotic”, and it’s often a term that is thrown around. For the most part, it’s with very little understanding of what the term actually means.
We’ve probably all been accused of being neurotic before – acting in a neurotic way – but what most people do not realise is that it can actually be linked with some very serious mental health conditions, and is often a symptom that should be taken rather seriously.
What Does Neurotic Mean?
When you look up the term “neurotic” in the dictionary, this is the definition offered:
Adjective: of, relating to, or characteristic of neurosis.
Noun: a neurotic person
What is neurosis? Well, also known as psychoneurosis, it is an actual mental condition that involves a number of symptoms – anxiety, for example, and other personality problems.
For someone to be class as “neurotic”, they would need to be behaving neurotically for a period of time – usually a long one. Their behaviour is often considered to be erratic, and often without any warning or sense, and in general, the sufferer will experience a negative emotional state that they are unable to drag themselves out of.
The sufferer, or neurotic person, may experience feelings of depression, and may even feel guilty, although it not be obvious what they are feeling their guilt for. They may be angry, or be showing signs of being incredibly envious, but again, it might not be obvious why those reactions are being evoked. For the most part, every emotion will be heightened – much more than the “average” person who is not neurotic.
To be neurotic means to become overcome with emotion, so much so that you might not be able to keep a handle on those emotions anymore.
Is it Neurotic? Or Neuroticism?
People often become confused between the two, and they are both used for the same thing. They are, however, very different terms. When you are suffering with the disorder, you have, or are suffering from, neurosis. When talking about neuroticism, you’re talking about actually having the complaint.
You may find that your local doctor doesn’t like to use either of these terms. For many they are considered “outdated”, and too vague.
Neurosis – The Different Categories
There are a number of different categories coming under the term of “neurosis”, and each one will bring with it a range of different symptoms. These include the following:
Anxiety Neurosis – This is more of a general worry and stress, and is usually very close in characteristics to generalized anxiety disorder. It may materialize in the form of anxiety attacks, sweating, a fast heart rate, and an inability to speak without stuttering.
Compensation neurosis – You may have heard the term “where there is a blame, there is a claim”? Well, when you have compensation neurosis, you’re suffering with symptoms for a disease that may or may not be real, all in a bid to gain some sort of compensation. This usually comes in the form of a financial compensation.
The symptoms may come on even though they aren’t real, brought about by the mind, and they may also conveniently disappear after the financial settlement has been granted. This doesn’t mean that the sufferer is making it up, it means they are suffering with compensation neurosis, and they BELIEVE they are entitled to compensation AND are suffering with the problem.
Depressive neurosis – So many people around the world are affected with depression these days, but the onset of depressive neurosis usually comes with much more severe symptoms. The despair and sadness they feel will far outweigh any feelings or happiness the sufferer may feel.
Somatization neurosis – The relationship that exists between the mind and the body is very complex, and there is so much of it that we do not yet understand. Somatization neurosis is a case of neurosis where the sufferer believes that physical symptoms, such as stress, colds and flu, bowel problems, etc. are caused by a very serious illness. This may not be the case, and even when a doctor has exhausted all medical testing, the sufferer may still find another test that they wish to be performed.
War or Combat Neurosis – These days, war or combat neurosis is called PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The patient will relive various terrifying or traumatic memories of their past, often behaving in a way they wouldn’t usually – lashing out at family members believing they are someone sent to hurt them, for example.
We are all said to suffer from neurosis from time to time – being anxious, stressed, depressed, or generally worried about something. It is when the neurosis manifests itself in a wide range of symptoms, and chooses to stay, that you have a problem on your hands. This is when the condition can become incredibly life-altering, even affecting your ability to go to work, or even leave the house.
How to Deal with Neurosis
If you are living, or loving, a person who is suffering with neurosis, you need to understand the condition – you need to understand the person in front of you isn’t always in charge of the way they feel or react to certain situations. This is not their fault, but a result of a complex connection between the mind and body.
Most people have the ability to control their neurosis for a period of time, but after a while the condition can become impossible to control, and this is where other coping strategies are required.
Neurosis – Coping Strategies
We know that there are a lot of ways in which you can try and help the physical and psychological symptoms of your neurosis, but you must first start by trying to understand what the disorder actually means. Once you have learned that, and also learned that help from supportive family and friends is also important, you can start incorporating things like exercise into your life. Exercise is well known for relieving stress, and also for keeping you healthy and happy. Relaxation and meditation can also go some way to battling the problem, especially when you find yourself in overwhelming situations. You may also wish to consider the holistic route – herbs and natural remedies such as passionflower, kava and valerian root have all been shown to improve symptoms.