The term anxiety has been used for decades to refer to thoughts and behaviors that were distressing in nature. But before they referred to these as "anxiety disorders," they were called "neuroses" - psychological disorders without loss of touch with reality (insight).
Neurosis is characterized by the absence of delusions or hallucinations. A neurotic is defined as someone who is suffering from a variable degree anxiety, fears or other psychological conditions but while still having full grasp of reality, as opposed to psychosis (loss of insight). The term has been used casually to describe those whose thoughts appear overly nervous relative to the situation.
The Difference Between Anxiety and Neurosis
Neurosis is simply an older term for anxiety. In fact, most forms of anxiety were simply labeled as anxiety neurosis, with little distinguishing characteristics between the different types of anxiety disorders.
The term was used to describe those who suffered from:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Unprompted fears (possibly phobias)
The term originally caught on through psychoanalytic theory. Psychoanalytic theorists believed that the unconscious mind was essentially expressing poor adaptive functioning to life, where the mind was coming up with the wrong answers and the wrong fears to life's questions.
One of the reasons the term still exists today is because anyone who appears to have trouble with control or emotional stability, especially those that consistently show signs of "disaster thinking" is said to be "neurotic." But since then, psychologists have renamed anxiety neurosis, and now use the term anxiety disorders - or the specific disorder itself.
Neurosis can have both physical and mental symptoms, much like traditional anxiety, but most often refers to mental worries and nervousness. In that sense, it is one’s limited ability or inability to functionally adapt to one's environment.
It should also be differentiated from Neuroticism, which is a specific personality trait characterized by mood changes, such as anxiety, worry, fear, anger, frustration, envy, jealousy, guilt, depressed mood, and loneliness
What Causes Anxiety Neurosis?
Neurosis is caused by the same issues that cause traditional anxiety. Though psychoanalytic theorists believe that neurosis stems from problems with the unconscious mind, most believe that this type of anxiety stems from any combination of:
- Chemical imbalances
Neurosis should, in theory, be no different than any other anxiety disorder. It's simply a different term that was used decades ago, and still persists in some psychoanalytic communities.
How to Treat Anxiety Neurosis at Home
The key to treating your anxiety at home is addressing the type of anxiety you have. Ignore the term neurosis. Focus instead on what specific anxiety problem you're suffering from.
That said, there are a few nonspecific tips that may help. These include:
- Exercise You absolutely need to be exercising if you suffer from anxiety. Immobility is one of the leading contributors to anxiety symptoms, and in some rare cases may be the only cause of your anxiety. In addition, exercise releases chemicals in your brain that improve mood, making it as powerful as some anxiety medications. It's crucial that you begin exercising quickly.
- Research and Understanding Learning as much as you can about your type of disorder is also very important, not just for treatment but also because it can impact your anxiety. Often anxiety is at its worst when you don't understand what you're going through or why. The more you understand your anxiety, the more you can keep yourself calm when your anxiety appears to be increasing.
- Relaxation Strategies Several exercises can help you relax during times of stress. Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, and mantra meditation have all been successful in their own way. You can also find your own "cure." If you feel calmer and happier simply by walking your dog or skipping stones at a park, take advantage of that. Just make sure that any strategy you choose is not only helpful for your stress - it's also positive and upbeat.
- Herbal Supplements While not ideal (you never want to depend on any type of medication, herbal or otherwise) there are many herbal supplements that you may want to try. Kava is considered to be as effective as some anti-anxiety medications, and many people report positive results from passionflower and valerian root.
Without knowing exactly what type of anxiety you're experiencing, it's difficult to recommend an at-home treatment. Nevertheless, anxiety neurosis is something that can be reduced in the comfort of your own home, provided you focus on the symptoms that cause that type of anxiety and treatments designed to target those specific symptoms.