Basic Psychology, Psychopathology

Mental Disorders – Neurosis

Neurosis gets defined as a mental illness that falls into the category of relatively mild problems and not caused by any disease organic or inorganic, does have other factors such as stress, depression, anxiety, but the person always stays within the reality. Neurosis can also be defined as an exaggerated presentation of defense mechanisms in order to escape from potentially harmful feelings, situations or people which may not be truly dangerous. Affected individuals may feel highly anxious and scared in their subconscious levels or even go through panic attacks because of the unusual fear experienced on certain occasions. These can be completely harmless for some people, but medical attention should be considered if there is a considerable impact on the quality of life caused by the interference on a day to day activities.

Neurosis is a relatively mild mental illness while psychosis is a severe mental disorder.

Anxiety, depression, phobias and eating disorders are some types of neurosis. Although these are experienced at a smaller scale by everyone, if these feelings interfere with day-to-day activities, help must be given. Persons with neurosis can understand that they have a problem that hinders their life routine, but they can’t resolve it themselves. Neurotics exhibit unusual anxiety to escape certain situations, though this is at their subconscious level. The anxiety experienced by a neurotic person depends on the type of the disorder.


Types of Neurotic Disorders

Anxiety neurosis: Most of us experience anxiety in certain situations like exams, interviews and so on. However, a person with neurosis may get panic attacks such as heart palpitations, numbness, fainting, chills, etc. The fears are so overpowering that the person cannot carry out the function and can hinder day-to-day activities.

Phobias: It refers to extreme fears of certain objects or situations. They are thought to be a result of a previous bad experience and the person is affected so much that they avoid the situation totally. If faced with the situation, they get panic attacks. This condition can be treated by behavior modification and by associating the experiences with pleasant outcomes. Example: fear of heights, fear of crowded places and so on.

Obsessive-Compulsive disorder (OCD): It is a persistent unwanted thought or belief that causes anxiety and to get rid of this anxiety, the person has to perform a certain act or behave in a certain way. Example: Fear of germs is an obsession and washing of hands is act of compulsion. The person is fully aware that this fear is irrational but cannot help from doing the act to get rid of anxiety caused by the obsessive thought.

Depression: It is a serious mental health disorder that can be associated with bitter life experiences or imbalance of chemicals in the body. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt and despair are the main symptoms of depression. Normally such feelings get resolved over time, but when it is neurotic depression, it can affect the daily living of the person such as taking up responsibilities and taking care of family.

Eating disorder: Eating disorders  like Anorexia nervosa It is a disorder that causes reduced intake of food by the affected person and Bulimia , in which the persons binge-eat and then induce vomiting, and starve themselves to “compensate”.

Post-traumatic stress disorder : It  is a syndrome appearing in people who have endured some highly traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, torture, or incarceration in a concentration camp. The symptoms include nightmares, a diffuse anxiety, and guilt over having survived when others perished


Treatment can include psychotherapy, psychoactive drugs, and relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing. Other methods include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which adjusts the faulty psychological mechanisms that respond to the environment to react as they should. Creative therapies, such as art therapy or music therapy, have also been used to tackle mental disturbances similar to neuroses.

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