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Neurotic Behavior | Definition, Types, Signs & Treatment

Neurotic person
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology


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Neurosis is a condition that makes the lives of individuals complicated, and they want to know:

Is neurosis a mental illness? Let’s find the answer together.

The term ‘neurotic’ was first used in old psychology in the Sigmund Freud Era. But today, experts have figured out many different angles and aspects of neurotic behavior compared to the old definition.

Read this blog till the end to develop a deep understanding of what is neurotic behavior, its types, and personality traits.

Professional helps you recover from mental health issues in the best possible way.

Let’s dive in!

What Does Neurotic Mean?

Being highly anxious or captivated with self-doubts are all neurotic synonyms often used in society. However, neurotic behavior is also characterized by distress, anxiety, obsessive thoughts, and experiencing dysfunction in everyday daily life, which results from a pathological process called neurosis. Many people confuse anxiety signs and symptoms with neurotic personality traits. However, both these conditions are distinct. Anxiety is a clinical diagnosis with standardized diagnostic criteria in the DSM-5 and a standard treatment plan, whereas neurotic personality trait is not a clinical diagnosis and is not listed in the DSM-5. Rather, it is based on the general features of an individual.

What Are the Most Prominent Neurotic Personality Symptoms?

A neurotic person constantly procrastinates and thinks about the worst-case scenarios in every aspect of life. Feeling a high level of guilt, depression, anxiety, and fear is also associated with a neurotic personality.

Neurotic Behavior Examples

Normal Behavior

Neurotic Behavior

Example 1:You are concerned about an important task.

You are in distress thinking about the task deadline and feel everything will go wrong. Or you might never be able to complete the task or simply ruin it just because of such thoughts and indecisiveness.

Example 2:You arrive for a meeting early or in time.

You are obsessed with coming to the meeting hours before the time, and you continuously check the time after every 10 minutes.

Common Types of Neurosis

  • Combat or War Neurosis. Also known as post-traumatic stress disorder, it is characterized by extreme fear and stress due to past experiences.
  • Depressive Neurosis. This type is characterized by ongoing sadness and a lack of interest in daily activities.
  • Obsessive-compulsive Neurosis. Involves repetitive behaviors and thoughts.
  • Anxious Neurosis. Includes extreme levels of worry and anxiety along with panic attacks.

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What Are the Symptoms of Neurotic Behavior?

A neurotic person is most likely to experience the following common symptoms and traits of a neurotic personality:

  • Emotional instability
  • Depression
  • Negative emotions and reactions
  • Anxiety
  • Apprehension
  • Excessive worry
  • Guilt
  • Anger issues
  • Irritability
  • Low self-esteem
  • Low consciousness
  • Inability to respond to stressors
  • Threatening interpretations
  • Health anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Maladaptive behaviors such as self-medication and substance abuse

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Neurotic symptoms

Neurotic Personality Causes

According to research [1*] , it is believed that neurotic behavior and personalities might be caused by other underlying mental health disorders such as anxiety disorders and depression. However, experts have not been able to identify the exact causes of developing neurotic personality. Several factors can contribute to the development of this disorder; the most common are explained below.


People with a family history of neurotic personality are more likely to develop neurotic behavior themselves, and many studies are conducted in this regard. For example, a twin study [2*] showed that developing neurotic behaviors and anxiety disorders are closely linked with genetics. Another research [3*] concluded that a gene called G72 has crucial effects on neurotransmitter functioning and might be responsible for such behaviors. Another study [4*] shows a weak association between serotonin transporter genes and emotional processing.

Environmental Factors

Some experts believe that environmental factors such as parenting, classroom environment, and workplace aspects might also contribute to the development of neurotic personality.

Neurotic Personality Test & Treatment Options

Today, there are no standard diagnostic criteria for neurotic personality. Hence, getting professional help is the ultimate way to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. A mental health professional will talk to you and conduct a detailed physical and mental examination. Your doctor will take your history and ask about your signs and symptoms. The chances are high that you might also get diagnosed with some other underlying mental health disorder. At times a self-reporting neurotic personality test — Big Five Personality Test — might also be used. This is the most common diagnostic model used in psychology for detecting neurotic and other personality disorders. The test uses personality markers from the International Personality Item Pool developed by Goldberg.

Best Treatment Options for Neurotic Personality

Mental health experts use a multimodal treatment plan for the treatment of neurotic disorders. However, the most commonly used treatment options are summarized in the table below.



Lifestyle Changes

Only a certified mental health expert can prescribe suitable medication. The commonly prescribed drugs include;

Psychotherapy is a great way to manage symptoms of neurosis. Best options include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy

  • Talk therapy

  • Behavioral therapy

  • Exposure therapy

Self-coping strategies are great for lowering the impact of neurosis and recognizing triggers. Positive lifestyle changes include:

  • Regular low-intensity exercise

  • Breathing exercises

  • Correcting the sleep cycle

  • Healthy dietary patterns

  • Meditation

  • Monitoring your triggers


Neurotic behavior involves a wide spectrum of signs and symptoms. And since there are no standard diagnostic criteria, professional help remains the best solution. It allows one to get a legit diagnosis and obtain a personalized treatment protocol. Join MEDvidi today and access various therapeutic interventions to best manage your neurotic symptoms.


4 sources
  1. Neuroticism is a fundamental domain of personality with enormous public health implications. (2017)
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  2. A Population-Based Twin Study of the Relationship Between Neuroticism and Internalizing Disorders. (2006)
    Source link
  3. Public health significance of neuroticism. (2009)
    Source link
  4. Measurement scale does moderate the association between the serotonin transporter gene and trait anxiety: comments on Munafo et al. (2005)
    Source link
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology


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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.