Neuroticism Articles

Understand the origins of the word “neurotic” and why it may be considered outdated.

Neuroticism is a personality trait and varies in severity. People who are higher on the neuroticism scale tend to be mercurial or moody, and often appear anxious, fearful, easily angered and may have a low frustration tolerance. They are also often envious of individuals who don’t have their disruptive behaviors and tend to act out when they encounter people who aren’t neurotic. Neurotic individuals often have trouble with impulsive behavior, which can be a source of self-sabotage. Here you will find articles about neuroticism and how it can severely impact people’s lives. People who have neurotic behavior are often unaware of how much their habits affect those around them, whether they are close friends or strangers. Learn how to recognize neuroticism, the causes and psychological strategies to help people with these issues.

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Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA


Neuroticism is a personality trait. It is a tendency towards being anxious, having self-doubt, dealing with depression, and being timid or shy. Someone that is neurotic could be emotionally unstable, may engage in self-deprecation, and are prone to being lonely. Many people who have neuroses also live with mood disorders and some may engage in obsessive-compulsive behavior. Coping with neuroticism is difficult. You may find yourself in a feedback loop of negative thinking. You can’t seem to stop beating yourself up. 

You’re frustrated, and you want to stop thinking negatively, but it doesn’t appear to be possible. Maybe you believe you don’t deserve to be happy. That’s a common core belief when you struggle with compulsive behavior. Try to remember that it’s not true. You’re not a “bad person,” just because you’re finding it challenging to cope with negative thinking. You’re human, and we all have different struggles, and neurotic thoughts and behaviors are something you’re managing. 

It’s helpful to understand more about neuroses, what they are, and why you’re experiencing a persistent pattern of negative thoughts. Once you have that insight, you can start to tackle neuroses, and start feeling better.


What are neuroses? The word “neuroses” was defined in the 18th century as a way to describe psychological issues that couldn’t be defined as part of a physical impairment. The term led to certain psychological issues categorized as neuroticism or neurosis, which refers to mental illnesses that do not include psychosis. 

Psychosis refers to a loss of touch with reality, whereas neurosis is doesn’t have that feature. Some psychologists use the word “neurosis” to indicate symptoms of anxiety. For example, early psychologists Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung talked about thought processes that were neurotic. People who struggle with neurotic thinking are often anxious about it. 

They can’t seem to break out of the cycle of self-doubt. Neurotic thoughts can plague a person to the point where they have trouble functioning. Let’s look at what neuroses are and aren’t.

Being Neurotic Isn't Funny

There are many television shows and sitcoms where we see neurotic characters pictured as funny. Having neuroses isn’t funny; it can be uncomfortable for the person who has them, and downright distressing. Like any other mental health issue, neuroses take skills to manage. When you always doubt yourself, you need to figure out how to respond to that inner voice that tells you that you’re not enough. Do you ignore it? Do you acknowledge it and keep going on with your day? 

There are many techniques to use when coping with neurotic behavior, and you can learn them when you work with a licensed therapist or counselor. Therapy is an excellent place to learn about what triggers your neuroses and find ways to manage them. First, it’s essential to determine whether or not your neurotic behavior is connected to mental illness.

What Mental Illnesses Have Neurosis?

Many mental illnesses have neuroses as traits. People can be neurotic on their own, or it can be a trait of mental illness. Neuroticism in mental illness occurs when a person is under distress. Typically, neurosis is seen in anxiety disorders. OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder is often affiliated with neurotic behavior. 

A person with OCD usually has an inner critic that says that they’re “doing something wrong.” They might feel shame and guilt after engaging in rituals or compulsions and may become frustrated or ruminate about not being able to get these behaviors under control. This excessive worry is an example of neurosis or neuroses. Neuroticism can also appear in mood disorders, like Bipolar Disorder, personality disorders like Borderline Personality Disorder, or in other disorders, such as eating disorders.

How To Get Help

One of the best ways to manage neuroses is in therapy or counseling. You don’t have to suffer from neuroses alone. There are mental health professionals who understand neuroticism and can help you manage your symptoms. You might feel overwhelmed, but the first step to getting help for neurotic behaviors or anxiety disorders is to seek help from a mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor. Whether you work with a therapist in person or online, they will help you manage your anxiety and find coping skills that will allow you to stop engaging in neurotic behaviors or thought patterns.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

What is a neurotic person?

People with neurotic tendencies often seem distressed, preoccupied, anxious, and worried about every day circumstances. Highly neurotic individuals display undesirable personality traits distressing behaviors on an ongoing basis and can often be critical of themselves and others. 

What are the signs of a neurotic person?

Experts have concluded that highly neurotic individuals display the symptoms of distressed personality traits including anxiety and repetitive thoughts. These repetitive and obsessive thoughts can resemble obsessive-compulsive disorder. Another name for this is obsessive-compulsive neurosis. 

Is neuroticism a bad thing?

In small doses, being highly neurotic can be ok. For example, if you are on an overnight camping trip where there’s dangerous wildlife, being neurotic can keep you safe in an unfamiliar environment. However, there is growing evidence that neuroticism can be debilitating in highly neurotic individuals who are always in a heightened state of awareness. 

How do you say neuroticism?

According to, the word neuroticism is pronounced “nyuh" + "ROT" + "i" + "si" + "zuhm. This 5-syllable word is related to mental health disorders that involve prolonged periods of distressed and anxious behaviors. 

Can a neurotic person change?

Neuroticism is a psychological trait that can be managed. Researchers are still searching for ways to mitigate the effects of neuroticism on highly neurotic individuals. Counseling and psychotherapy are treatments that have shown a positive effect in reducing symptoms in highly neurotic individuals. 

What causes neurosis?

According to behavioral neuroscience, some people are born highly neurotic while others become highly neurotic over time. Physical trauma and mental health trauma can lead to someone becoming highly neurotic. Neuroticism is considered to be a factor in many mental health disorders including anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

What is a neurotic behavior?

People who suffer from neuroticism tend to have repetitive thoughts, behaviors, and actions. Obsessive-compulsive disorder and other disorders including neuroticism have similar traits. The term neurosis refers to people who are in a constant internal struggle with themselves.

Is neuroticism inherited?

Neuroticism is a robust personality trait that may or may not be genetically inherited. As it related to mental health and genetics, the term neurosis can be found to describe the debilitating effects of mental health disorders that may be genetically inherited. 

What is the opposite of neurosis?

The opposite of neurosis is homeostasis. In contrast to the term neurosis (including neuroticism) people who have achieved homeostasis are in a state of relaxation and harmony both internally and externally. This means that they are at peace with their internal and external environment and all body systems are functioning well. 

Can you reduce neuroticism?

Psychotherapy treatments and similar mental health-based interventions have shown some promise at reducing symptoms of neuroticism. As such the American Psychological Association removed the term neurosis as a stand-alone diagnosis and include the term as a (symptom or component of) many other mental health disorders. 

Is neuroticism a personality trait?

Neuroticism is a personality trait believed to have a significant effect on psychological functioning and behavior. People with high levels of neuroticism often experience related mental health disorders like anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder that have similar characteristics. 

Does neuroticism decrease with age?

This is dependent on several factors. Neuroticism can fluctuate based on interventions like lifestyle changes and regular therapy treatments. If you’re having issues with neurosis and you need to talk to someone, the professional counselors and therapists at are available every day.

Is OCD a neurosis?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder can be a result of having a neurotic disposition. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder often have neurotic tendencies that include overthinking, obsessing about minor details, and bouts of ever-present anxiety. 

How do you treat neurosis naturally?

To begin treating neurosis naturally start by reducing the number of stressors in your everyday life. While this may not sound easy, you can start by taking 5-10 minutes per day to de-stress and re-center yourself. Talk therapy with a licensed professional can also provide natural relief. 

How is neurosis diagnosed?

Your medical provider and mental health provider will run a series of tests that include physical exams, lab work, and psychological assessments. Based on the results of these findings, your medical professional will make an assessment by providing a diagnosis if neurosis is found. 

Is neurosis a mental illness?

Neurosis is one of a group of mental health disorders characterized by periods of high stress in everyday situations. People with neurotic tendencies may develop related mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. If you’re suffering from symptoms of neurosis (or another mental disorder), get help from a licensed therapist. 

Is high neuroticism good?

For short periods of time, high levels of neuroticism can be good. However, if neurosis is still high after the competition has ended or the situation has calmed down -- this can be a sign of a deeper mental health issue. 

How do you manage neuroticism?

To manage neuroticism, reduce all of the stress you can in your everyday life. Take a look around your life and see where you could afford to save yourself time and energy. Also, focus on mindfulness techniques such as a body check or meditation. Taking the time to relax yourself can keep you from running around in circles all day.   

What is depressive neurosis?

Depressive neurosis is present when someone who suffers from neurosis -- also suffers from symptoms of depression. A person with depressive neurosis will have symptoms of both disorders that can become debilitating over time -- if left untreated. 

Whether you work with a counselor in your local area or online, it can help you maintain healthy behaviors and build a solid foundation for your life. Seeing a mental health professional gives you the opportunity to voice your feelings in a safe place and feel heard. Search the database of counselors at BetterHelp and find the best fit for you.

At what age does personality develop?

The exact age of when personality begins to develop is different for everyone. While certain developmental milestones generally happen around the same time (measured in years), personality is distinct to the individual. Many people begin developing their personality at birth and during early childhood. Others may not begin to develop their personality until later.  

Is it possible to change your personality?

You can learn new coping strategies and behavior that can lead to a drastic change in personality. This can be done by developing a therapeutic relationship with a licensed therapy provider. Your therapist will walk you through psychotherapy and exercises to help you achieve your goals. 

How do you use neurotic in a sentence?

If you hear someone say that “someone is neurotic,” this means that the person seems to be displaying behaviors that are in line with neuroticism. Neurotic behaviors are often an outward response to internal stress and anxiety. 

What is the opposite of conscientiousness?

The opposite of conscientiousness is obliviousness. When someone is oblivious, they have no idea of what is happening around them. This includes being completely unaware of how their words and actions are affecting the people around them. 

What is the meaning of extraversion?

Extraversion is a personality trait where people feel energized and at their best when they are engaging openly with people. People who consider themselves “extroverts” are said to thrive on social interaction and engagement. Their counterpart “introverts” thrive on individual or one-on-one engagement. 

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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