What Does it Mean to Be Neurotic?

Being called "neurotic" is an insult in today's culture. Many people with their own personal eccentricities are called neurotic simply because they're a little different, and this is seen not as a condition but as an irritating personality trait.

But that represents a blatant misunderstanding of what really goes on in neuroticism. For many people, being neurotic simply means you're suffering from anxiety.

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The Emotions of Neuroticism

Neuroticism has a formal definition, but it is informally assessed. Someone that is "emotional" to one person may be fully justified to another. Often it has to do with how people interact, why, and more.

Start with my free anxiety test to learn more about your own potential for neuroticism. The key thing to understand is that being neurotic is, in many ways, just its own type of anxiety. It's defined as people that show an above average predilection to a variety of negative emotions, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Envy
  • Jealousy
  • Guilt
  • Depression

A neurotic person is someone that calls and texts immediately after sending an email to make sure you get it, or expresses an emotional (rather than an anger induced) jealousy when people look at their relationship partner. They're someone that feels guilt when they do not give a homeless person their spare change. They're someone that shows signs of hypochondriasis.

Not everyone that is jealous, anxious, or guilt stricken is going to be neurotic, and many people that are neurotic do not show signs of anxiety. But there is some evidence that those with a neurotic personality type do seem to experience more anxiety than those without anxiety.

In fact, one could even argue that many of the other emotions in neuroticism, such as jealousy and guilt, could also be anxiety symptoms, and some of the behaviors may be indicative of an underlying anxiety issue.

Cause of Neuroticism Anxiety

Being neurotic is actually more of a personality trait, and those that are neurotic have very slightly different brains than those that are not. The difference isn't remarkable, but it's enough that there is certainly a difference between those that are neurotic and those that are not neurotic. It's not a condition that is imaginary.

But why those that have neurotic tendencies tend to develop anxiety disorders is less clear. There are two likely reasons:

  • Those that have more emotional swings, jealousy, and jitteriness are probably experiencing more stress, and long term stress does lead to the development of anxiety disorders.
  • Those that have neuroticism seem more likely to internalize, and when you're "lost in your own head" you also seem more likely to develop anxiety and panic disorders.

Many studies have shown that those with neurotic tendencies exhibit far more depression and anxiety after major life change, and seem to have a harder time dealing with stressful events. Studies have also shown that those that score high on neurotic tendencies often exhibit significant stress when faced with uncertainty.

Neuroticism Anxiety - A Problem?

Interestingly, neuroticism may have had an evolutionary benefit. Those that show neurotic tendencies seem to be doing anything they can to try to avoid negative consequences and events, and this causes them to both be more cautious in life while simultaneously being far more productive, as they show a significant drive to be successful and avoid negative issues.

However, anxiety is always a problem - whether you're neurotic or not. So if you're someone that is experiencing anxiety, make sure you take my free 7 minute anxiety test now. This test will look at your anxiety symptoms and show you how you can learn to control them.

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