Neuroticism is a psychological manifestation that is part of the personality of an individual; that is, those who manifest it have a hyperactive nervous system and react, all the time, excessively to intense stimuli. If it is accompanied by introversion, then problems of anxiety, obsession and depressive states appear; on the contrary, in the case of extroverts it could manifest as hysterical neuroses and psychopathic attitudes.

The term was used for the first time by a Berlin psychiatrist who emigrated to the USA, Hans Jürgen Eysenck, in a project of dimensional analysis of the being. His most popular book called “The Biological Basis of Personality” shows three basic aspects: psychoticism, extraversion-introversion and emotional instability (neuroticism) . In 1964, this expert developed a questionnaire that bears his name and that is generally applied to normal subjects and in groups.

Eysenck considered that neuroses were caused by learning aimed at suppressing anxious states. People who suffer from this condition commonly find it difficult to manage their emotions properly; therefore, it is common for them to become discouraged and depressed, or suffer from envy and anger, accompanied by feelings of guilt. And the symptoms appear with a frequency and severity much greater than what happens in those who do not have this disorder.

How to identify neuroticism?

People with emotional instability tend to overreact to criticism, either by expressing deep sadness or uncontrolled anger; even if the comments were made in jest or indirectly. In addition, they feel great apprehension when facing situations that others tolerate well , perceive the environment more negative than the rest and quickly despair in the face of frustrations that, in general, are irrelevant.

These people turn out to be excessively vulnerable to the continuous transformations that occur around them, in society or on the planet. They are stressed more than normal and do not have the ability to cope with those situations that generate anguish and from which others get away with it , such as heavy traffic or a light accident. Neuroticism affects not only certain areas of the existence of the individual who manifests it, but it appears in almost all of them. 

Comorbidities associated with emotional instability

People with neurosis are common to show other disabling signs such as anxiety and a higher frequency of depressive states; likewise, she tends to be extremely shy and withdrawn, with significant phobias and panic attacks. They are very susceptible, irritable and aggressive people , with a poor disposition to face daily challenges; who might even show apathy towards entertainment activities that often produce pleasure.

However, even when neurosis is a psychological disturbance that causes suffering, it is a relatively easy state to manage, because the serious conditions associated with psychosis do not appear; among them, delusions and hallucinations. In this case, the individual does not lose contact with reality , nor does he become depersonalized, although he is more unstable and less capable of solving his discomfort than those who obtain a low score in the Eysenck test.

Common consequences of neuroticism

Apart from the aforementioned, this disorder can affect interpersonal relationships and effective communication. It is common for these individuals to have personal and family problems; that even affects academic and work areas, and in some cases they can become abusive or feel isolated because of their eccentricity. Not to mention that due to their negative outlook on life, they could be limited when making decisions .

Another problem that is frequently manifested is difficulty sleeping, which causes severe fatigue during the daytime. Some people somatize their condition and suffer from tachycardia , hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), feeling of not being able to breathe well or choking, fear of sudden death, etc. Symptoms that also appear in cases of extreme anxiety.   

Treatment of neurosis

Individuals suffering from emotional instability can find relief from their problem in psychotherapeutic treatments; These will help you achieve the necessary emotional balance to live more calmly and with a lower incidence of the symptoms already described. In cases where the personality alterations are very severe, the addition of drugs to psychological intervention may be required, as recommended by a psychiatrist.   

However, since drug treatments produce side effects and only temporarily mitigate certain symptoms, it is preferable not to resort to them unless it is an extreme situation. Psychological therapy is aimed at improving the quality of life, acquiring tools to face reality in an uplifting way, and developing individual potential. In conclusion, neuroticism is a condition that can cause a lot of tension and anxiety to those who suffer from it , making it necessary to seek help to get ahead.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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