We all have different personalities. Some of us are more outgoing and confident, whilst others are more reserved and introverted. Some of us are naturally more positive and exuberant, whilst others are more passive and less enthusiastic. No personality type is the ‘right’ type, and it’s differences in personalities that allow us to form diverse and meaningful relationships.
Neuroticism is a personality type that influences a myriad of behaviours, and whilst there are positives to this personality type, there are some challenges that come with it. Understanding what it is and how to recognise it can help you deal with neurotic people in a more effective and positive way, and that’s why we’ve put together this article detailing some of the common symptoms of neuroticism and neurotic tendencies.
What is neuroticism? Getting a diagnosis
Firstly, let’s look at precisely what neuroticism is. As mentioned before, neuroticism is a personality trait that is marked as one of the five overall fundamental personality traits that everyone has. They are:
It’s theorised that everyone’s personalities are made up of a combination of each of the above broad traits. Some people are more or less inclined on each point, with neurotic people scoring highly on the neuroticism scale.
Though it is often perceived that neuroticism is a mental health disorder, it’s not. Neuroticism refers to people who have a tendency to overthink or feel negative emotions on a more intense scale. Neurotic people tend to be more anxious and doubtful, and may come across as pessimistic, nervous, or generally more emotional. It’s widely regarded that those with neurotic personality traits struggle to handle stressful situations more than less neurotic people, and they may be more prone to unwanted/undesirable emotions such as anger, sadness, anxiety, or irritability.
You can’t get a clinical diagnosis for neuroticism because it’s not a mental health condition; however, if you think you might be experiencing unwanted mental health symptoms due to a neurotic personality, or if you think you might have a mood disorder like anxiety, speak to a GP to discuss your options.
Common symptoms of a neurotic person
Every neurotic person is different and experiences different levels of emotional instability and volatility, but there are some common neurotic traits a lot of neurotic people display. These include the following:
Getting angry over a minor situation and having an inability to let the small stuff slide is a typical neurotic behaviour, and this often manifests itself in the form of road rage. If you notice that the person you’re with frequently loses their temper whilst driving, resorts to verbal aggression, or sparks confrontation with other drivers over things like being overtaken, this is neurotic behaviour at play.
Not everyone who exhibits road rage is neurotic, and we all get frustrated and have negative feelings aimed at other drivers sometimes, but if someone frequently finds themselves shouting, swearing, or being otherwise unpleasant towards other drivers, this is a good indication that they may be more neurotic.
Tendency to be negative
In life it’s often said that there are two types of people: those who see the glass half full, and those who see the glass half empty. Neurotic people would likely fall into that latter category and may seem like they’re always able to put a negative spin on something. They don’t often look on the bright side and may pick faults with things.
For example, you might be going to a nice day out and it’s lovely weather, but a neurotic person might take issue with the fact you’ve had to park further away from the attraction/venue. This negativity or minor inconvenience might dampen their whole day and ruin their overall mood. This is a strong indicator of a neurotic personality type.
It’s common for neurotic people to feel irritable and get frustrated over small things. Whether it’s burnt toast, forgetting to get something at the shop, or them getting frustrated that you’ve parked a bit too close to them – neurotic people can be easily irritated.
If you notice someone is frequently in a seemingly bad mood and is annoyed a lot of the time, they could be neurotic with a tendency to exhibit irritable behaviours.
Neuroticism is about more than just being grumpy or angry – it can cause feelings of overwhelming anxiety. Many neurotic people find it hard to switch off and often overthink situations. Overthinking health concerns is one of the more common examples of neurotic behaviour.
A neurotic person may talk frequently about something that they feel is medically wrong with them, despite having no diagnosis. For example, they frequently obsess over things like a headache, rash, or otherwise relatively mild illness. This can be frustrating for other people, especially if there’s no cause, but this behaviour typically stems from anxiety, though not necessarily an anxiety disorder.
Neurotic people can struggle with containing their emotions and may automatically gravitate towards a negative response, and this means they are often easily distressed. What might seem like a minor inconvenience to you could be something that’s enough to ruin the day of someone with a neurotic personality.
From spilling a drink to slightly burning their food, such events can cause high levels of stress and anxiety, and this in itself can be tricky to deal with.
Mitigating neurotic behaviour
Some behaviours that neurotic people display can be hard to manage. From negativity to health anxiety, it’s not always easy to be around someone who displays neurotic symptoms, especially if your personality type is the opposite. That being said, it’s important to remember that it’s not easy being neurotic, either.
Neuroticism and mental illness
In fact, neurotic people are more prone to mood disorders like anxiety (including panic attacks) and depression, and may struggle socially as a result. They may feel down and isolate themselves a lot, and this can take a toll on their mental health and cause mental illnesses like depressive disorders. However, those with neurotic personalities tend to have more emotional awareness and often exhibit great deals of empathy and compassion, and so they can make excellent friends if you’re going through a tough time and need help and support.
With this in mind, being mindful of their behaviours and trying to help them is always the best course of action. This may include trying to help them feel calm if they’re stressed, trying to show them the positives of a situation – even if they can’t see them, looking to boost their self-esteem, and reminding them of context and perception, and that it’s not always worth sweating the small stuff.
If they haven’t already, you could also encourage them to speak to a GP to see if antidepressants or SSRIs could help them manage their anxieties and low moods if they are struggling with a mental illness or related physical symptoms that impact their everyday life.
Neurotic behaviour treatment and therapy at The Awareness Centre
At The Awareness Centre, we have a wide range of resources available to help those with a neurotic personality change their perspective on things and try to manage some of their behaviours, including through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with a mental health professional. We can also offer support to neurotic people who are experiencing a mental health condition. If you think either you or someone close to you could benefit from professional assistance with managing neurotic behaviours and other negative feelings, please contact us.