Neurosis Treatment: “Stop acting so neurotic”

Neurosis treatment: “Stop acting so neurotic,” is a statement commonly directed towards those who, in the throes of life’s stressors, they just can’t contain their anxiety, erratic moods, and the constant need for control. However, neuroticism as a personality trait and neurosis are not the same. Find out what is neurosis, how to treat it?

Neurosis Treatment
Neurosis Treatment

Neurosis Treatment: What is Neurosis?

Neurosis refers to a group of chronic mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, phobias, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is important to learn the differences to receive effective neurosis treatment.

Neurosis is a group of functional mental disorders that impact the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves without underlying organic disease. The universal signs of neuroses include anxiety, depression, and illogical fears. These disorders are non-psychotic and do not cause a loss of contact with reality. While less severe than psychosis, neuroses causes chronic distress in multiple areas of life from interpersonal relationships to work and even school. These deficits in functioning are why finding neurosis treatment is vital.

Neurosis Treatment: Learn about the types of neuroses

Accurately diagnosis neuroses is necessary to implement proper treatment. If neurosis is suspected, a psychologist or a psychiatrist perform a thorough evaluation. The evaluation consists of an interview, as well as tests that evaluate the patient’s mental status: the Neuroticism Extraversion and Openness (NEO-R) scale, the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire, and the Social Maladjustment Schedule. The results confirm which type of neurosis is causing symptoms. There are several forms.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder, also called anxiety neurosis, is the most prevalent mental disorder in the United States. People with generalized anxiety disorder excessively worry about matters such as health, relationships, work, or money. Their anxiety is unwarranted to the situation. Anxiety must be present longer than 6 months to receive a generalized anxiety disorder diagnosis.

Anxiety Symptoms are:

• Impending Doom
• Nervousness
• Irritability
• Fatigue
• Hyperventilation or rapid breathing
• Poor attention
• Trembling
Sleep disorders
• Gastrointestinal problems (i.e. stomach ache, diarrhea, nausea)

Phobias

Phobias are divided into 3 categories. Those with specific phobias fear a trigger like snakes, heights, or germs. Social phobias are the fear of social situations. Examples of social phobias are public speaking and large social gatherings. Lastly, agoraphobia is the fear of situations where escape is difficult. Fear of leaving the house, a fear of elevators, or a fear of public transportation are common agoraphobias.

Phobias come with a number of symptoms that can lead to panic attacks.

• Uncontrollable feelings of worry, dread, or panic
• Difficulty breathing
• Palpitations
• Sweating
• Trembling or shaking
• Sweating
• Hot flashes
• Nausea
• Dizziness

Depressive Neurosis

Depressive neurosis goes by the term dysthymia. It is a mood disorder characterized by mild, continuous depression where unexplained sadness persists for years. The condition causes sensations of hopelessness, low self-esteem, and a loss of interest in regular activities. The effects of depressive neurosis interfere with daily life.

A doctor will diagnose depressive neurosis if a patient’s depressed mood occurs for at least a year along with the accompanying symptoms manifesting within 2 months:

Sadness
• Hopelessness
• Poor concentration
• Sleep problems
• Fatigue
• Low self-esteem
• Loss of interest in normal activities
• Changes in appetite
• Anger and irritability

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, (OCD) or obsessive-compulsive neurosis, is a mental disorder marked by obsessions and compulsions. In OCD, obsession refers to intrusive thoughts in which the individual cannot suppress. Compulsions are meaningless impulsive behaviors that usually accompany the obsession as a way to relieve anxiety. A prime example of OCD is an individual washing their hands 9 times because they believe they will get sick and die if they refrain from doing so. The person with the disorder realizes their actions are illogical, yet they cannot control their behaviors.

The symptoms of OCD consist of:   

  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Guilt
  • Compulsive behavior
  • Ritualistic behavior
  • Panic attacks
  • Social isolation

Somatization Disorder

Somatization disorder is a type of neurosis that manifests as physical symptoms without the presence of a medical diagnosis. Someone with somatization disorder externalizes their emotional distress as physical ailments, but their complaints are unexplained by an existing physical or neurologic condition.

Diagnosing somatization disorder depends on strict criteria to avoid a misdiagnosis. Medical tests should be normal, family history negative for physical disease, and the patient must experience worry out of proportion to their symptoms for 6 months. Symptoms range in severity from mild to disabling:

• Headache
• Paralysis
• Weakness
• Abnormal movements (i.e. tremors)
• Episodes of unresponsiveness
• Numbness
• Speech problems
• Deafness
• Dizziness
• Double-vision

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness in those who have previously endured trauma. Traumas inducing the disorder are physical, psychological, sexual, or emotional. Post-traumatic stress disorder causes fear and stress without danger—provoking the fight-or-flight response designed to protect the body from harm. It is similar to phobias, as triggers initiate the fear.

Diagnosing post-traumatic stress disorder is straightforward when compared to other neuroses. Symptoms correlate within months of the traumatic event to include:

  • Flashbacks reliving the trauma
  • Bad dreams
  • Frightening thoughts
  • Racing heart
  • Sweating
  •  Easily startled
  • Anger outbursts
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Avoiding places, objects, people that are reminders of the traumatic event
  • Guilt
  • Blame
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Memory loss pertaining to the event
  • Social isolation

Neurosis Treatment: Medications

All types of neurosis share the same basic classes of drugs. Finding the appropriate balance of medications for neurosis treatment is a trial and error process. The patient and doctor must work closely together to pinpoint which treatment is most effective at relieving symptoms with the least amount of side effects. Often, it takes multiple attempts at establishing a medication cocktail for neurosis treatment:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)—SSRIs block the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain. With more serotonin available for the body to use, it reduces anxiety and improves mood. Anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive neurosis are particularly responsive to SSRI treatment. They are the first-line treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder in higher doses. Side effects include insomnia, sexual dysfunction, weight gain.
  • Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)—SNRIs increase the levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine. The greater availability of neurotransmitters alleviates symptoms of anxiety. They are the first-line treatment for anxiety, but not for obsessive compulsive disorder. Common side effects are stomach upset, sexual dysfunction, headache, insomnia, weight gain, and high blood pressure.
  • Benzodiazepines—Benzodiazepines are prescribed in combination with other anxiety reducing medications. They are effective in short-term acute anxiety episodes like panic attacks, as they ease muscle tension. The chance of addiction and tolerance is high for this class of drug. Benzodiazepines are not optimal for post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants—Tricyclic antidepressants are prescribed when SSRIs and SNRIs fail. They are effective at treating anxiety neuroses, but avoided because of their side effect profile of hypotension, urinary retention, blurry vision, dry mouth, and constipation.
Neurosis Treatment
Neurosis Treatment

Neurosis Treatment: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is short-term psychotherapy focusing on altering attitudes to change behavior. It is beneficial for all neuroses, especially phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder. In cognitive behavioral therapy, the therapist and client work together to identify false patterns of thinking. There is a strong emphasis on the client’s expressing past beliefs and how those experiences have contributed to their distress.

With the relationship between cognitive processes, emotions, and actions firmly established, the therapist implements strategies to overcome the client’s problems. An important aspect of cognitive behavioral therapy is that it includes homework assignments to correct inaccuracies in cognition. While assignments, like writing in a journal or confronting triggers (i.e. heights, spiders, etc.), are uncomfortable, 10 to 20 sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy reflect favorable outcomes for neuroses.

Neurosis Treatment: Relaxation Training

Relaxing is the ability to reach a state of calmness to reduce anxiety, stress, and anger. Stress is obviously high in neuroses. That stress has a vast impact on the body. Therefore, relaxation training encompasses various methods to achieve relaxation. Not only is mental health improved, but relaxation training helps physical functioning too. The benefits decrease muscle tension, regulates blood pressure and heart rate, and lowers fatigue.

Neurosis Treatment: Visualization and Guided Imagery

Visualization and guided imagery involve imagining relaxing mental images. For optimal results, images need to employ as many of the five senses as possible (i.e. see, touch, hear, smell, taste). An example of visualization is imagining sitting at the beach—the sun is warm on your skin, waves crash along the shore, and a salty aroma wafts through the air as you grasp a delectable ice cream cone. Visualization serves to reduce stress because it redirects attention from feelings of sadness, fears, and anxieties to more pleasant thoughts.

Neurosis Treatment: Autogenic Relaxation

To start, a medical professional has the client sit in a comfortable position and then instructs them to focus on relaxing parts of the body such as relaxing the muscles of the arms or legs, slowing heart rate, and controlling breathing. Visualization is an asset to autogenic relaxation, as imagery of calming scenes promotes further relaxation. For autogenic relaxation to be successful, the techniques should be performed once daily for 4 to 6 months.

Neurosis Treatment: Progressive Muscle Relaxation

According to the Mayo Clinic, progressive muscle relaxation seeks to differentiate muscle tension and relaxation. The technique entails tensing each muscle for 5 seconds followed by 30 seconds of relaxing them. Start with toes and then progress to the head and neck to reap the benefits of progressive muscle relaxation.

Neurosis Treatment: Deep Breathing

Deep breathing is the easiest relaxation training technique because it can be accomplished in any location and without attracting attention. Start by finding a comfortable position as you inhale to expand your stomach. Exhale through your mouth. Repeat those steps several times.

Deep breathing is a great addition to neurosis treatment. It calms the autonomic nervous system in charge of the body’s fight-or-flight response and frees up oxygen for processes other than anxiety, fear, or emotional distress.

Neurosis Treatment: Lifestyle Changes

Even when symptoms are mild, neurosis significantly disrupts the typical routines of life. Whether problems with work productivity, self-esteem, or relationships, suffering from neurosis makes it seem as if life is completely out of control. However, establishing an effective neurosis treatment reverses the detrimental effects. Participating in simple lifestyle changes lends some semblance of control to the chaos that is neuroses.

Neurosis Treatment: Exercise

Incorporating exercise into daily activities has been proven by experts to decrease symptoms of neuroses. Physical activity releases endorphins, which are brain chemicals produced by the nervous system and pituitary gland. Endorphins are natural pain relievers. They interact with the neurotransmitters, dopamine, and serotonin, to act on the opiate receptors.

In increased amounts, endorphins from exercise minimize stress and enhance pleasure. Moderate exercise multiple times a week is effective for treating anxiety and depressive neuroses when combined with other therapies. The exercise need not be rigorous. Yoga, tai chi, walking, or weight training exercise is sufficient.

Neurosis Treatment: Diet

The human brain operates by the fuel we give it. If we consume healthy foods, we are not as susceptible to the stress of physical and mental illness. The reverse is also true. Junk food advances the progression of neuroses. The gut is deemed the second brain by researchers.   

For optimal functioning, consume healing foods with vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin C—Warding off colds is not the sole power of vitamin C. It repairs cells damaged from stress and is found in broccoli, citrus, mango, pineapple, and green leafy vegetables.    
  • B6—Vitamin B6 aids the body in synthesizing neurotransmitters, which fights anxiety and depression. Avocado, carrots, potatoes, and beef contain B6.
  • Antioxidants—Antioxidants prevent and relieve symptoms of neurosis. They are molecules that neutralize free radicals (i.e. stress). Berries, beans, and apples are examples of antioxidant rich foods.
  • Vitamin E—Antioxidants cannot be boosted without vitamin E in kale and green leafy vegetables.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids—Proper fat intake is crucial for brain function. Chia seeds, fish, and soybeans are the perfect brain foods.
  • Magnesium—Low levels of magnesium leads to a deficiency of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is essential for regulating mood. Foods containing magnesium are almonds, avocado, spinach, dark chocolate, and legumes.  

While there are many foods to eat for neurosis treatment, there are foods to avoid. These include processed foods with refined sugar, fast food, high salt content, soft drinks, alcohol, and caffeine. They are energy sustaining for the moment, but a crash soon follows. The crash stimulates anxiety and panic.

Neurosis Treatment: Sleep

The symptoms of all forms of neurosis almost always affects sleep. A lack of sleep compounds the stress the body is under, as it does not have the opportunity to rest and repair. Sleep is an immense factor in neuroses treatment because when the brain is able to repair, it regulates mood, enhances mental clarity, and can better handle stimuli. Perhaps easier said than done, but try to balance the sleep-wake cycle by going to sleep and waking at consistent hours. Be sure not to oversleep during the day.

Neurosis Treatment: Social Support

Family and friends are an integral part of neurosis treatment. Studies reveal “a decline in social support may itself cause an increase in depression, or in depression severity” (Oddone et al., 2011). Neurosis is isolating. Social support is the perception of knowing others care and are willing to assist. It illustrates the manner in which one receives information, a distraction from neurosis symptoms, and vents emotions as a mechanism to cope with excessive anxiety and alleviate stress.

References

Oddone, C. G., Hybels, C. F., McQuoid, D. R., & Steffens, D. C. (2011). Social support modifies the relationship between personality and depressive symptoms in older adults. The American journal of geriatric psychiatry : official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry19(2), 123-31.