Anxiety neurosis is the classic term for anxiety disorders. It denotes the mental disturbance caused in the sufferer’s life because of negative and unrealistic thinking. It is “a state where excessive stress or inability to cope with stress causes mental exhaustion.” Anxiety neurosis affects millions of people worldwide. Some people experience only in acute form while others develop full anxiety disorders. The chances of developing Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or panic attacks depends on the intensity of neurosis( negative and illogical thinking) and the time period for which a person suffers neurosis.
However, the term neurosis is used sparingly now because it sounds vague and does not represent any real disorder.
Today I am going to talk about what neurosis really is…
Anxiety neurosis is a worry disorder that marks indulging in negative thinking or worry or an inability to cope with life stress. Anxiety Neurosis does not represent any mental abnormality. It signifies the development of a way of thinking that produces various symptoms of worry and anxiety. It has various mental and physical symptoms. A person starts experiencing physical symptoms like palpitations, breathlessness, dizziness, etc. but mental symptoms often create more disturbance and become the reason for physical symptoms. Therefore, we can say that physical symptoms of anxiety and panic appear due to specific mental configuration and they are characterized by psychosomatic disorders.
Anxiety neurosis and depression start as neurotic thinking and behavior. Neurosis is the root of anxiety and depression disorders. What underlies neurosis is general anxiety, worries, and concerns. You develop anxiety disorders like GAD and panic disorder because of intense anxieties, worries and concerns invade your life. Negative thinking and pessimism are the hallmarks of neurosis.
The primary neurotic symptoms vary from person to person. Sufferers often develop intense autonomic neural symptoms early such as palpitations and dizziness due to anxiety and fears. Some develop obsessive acts (repeating specific actions to relieve fear). Commonly people have symptoms such as depression, lethargy, loss of interest in life activities. Some people may have social anxiety symptoms such as social withdrawal, bedridden, and impulsive deviant behavior. Many people have extreme or high functioning anxiety that makes their life a living hell.
Following disorders come under the umbrella term Neurosis:
Generalized anxiety disorder
Social anxiety disorder
Phobias (social phobia, heights of phobia etc.)
Hypochondria (fear of illness)
Remember the term anxiety neurosis is a generic term to explain the spectrum of psychosomatic disorders related to fear. Anxiety neurosis forms the base of anxiety disorders. It is characterized by unhelpful worrisome thinking and concerns related to daily life. Since GAD and Panic disorder have their roots in the changed thinking patterns i.e. neurotic thinking, they have been classified under neurotic disorders.
Am I prone to anxiety neurosis?
Think if you are often more concerned about the negative side of most of the thing you do, come across or think of doing. That personality trait identifies the chances of neurotic thinking and behavior. Because neurosis is caused by the distorted thinking and inability to cope with life stress, the people how are worrywarts and who apprehend for every small thing are more likely to become neurotic.
A) Think of your personality
Looking at personality following types of personality are more susceptible to neurosis:
- Anxious mind- you get anxious at different life situations or future challenges
- Perfectionism- you always want everything to be perfect and in place
- Nervousness- you become nervous in difficult situations, social interaction or life challenges
- Over-ambitiousness- you want to excel above all and cannot settle for the mediocre
All of the above qualities give you moderate to high stress and that also affects your body. Your mind and body are fatigued by this stress.
Because worried people are often nervous they tend to feel anxiety and fear strongly against anything in everyday life. This affects the normal mental functioning and strengthens the neural anxiety response in the body. Persons who are a perfectionist or those who are tough on themselves cannot compromise because they try too hard to be perfect. This makes never gives them mental peace and the joy of achieving things. The simple reason for that is they believe there was always a better thing they could have achieved. This stress brings on neurosis.
B) See if you are in Stressful Environment
- Abusive home
- Domestic violence
- Diseased person in the family
- Financial crisis or poverty
- A strict parent
- Bullying at work or school
If you often get frightened or tense or edgy at places you usually spend most of your waking time, such as workplace and home, higher are the chances you develop neurosis. Staying in a stressful environment for a long time rewires your brain for anxiety and panic attacks. The more you suffer the more strong the wiring becomes. In this mode it is very easy for you to feel irritable, edgy, anxious, hopeless and so on.
The people who have an innate ability to deal with such stress and fears often do not get much affected. But not everybody is that much tough. If you are not one of them you should take steps to change your environment so that you can get out of the anxious environment as fast as possible.
C) Past Unrest or Learned Fears
Past traumas or panic that you might have acquired because of some traumatic events can also lead to neuroticism. It is nothing as conditioning. When we experience fearful events we get conditioned by them. Hence, we get anxious or nervous everytime we fall in similar circumstances. It is same as being neurotic by personality only that the behavior is not rooted in the personality but it is because of the inability to cope with certain life situations. Thereafter, a person is more likely to feel excessive anxiety and fear in the tense situations.
For example, take domestic violence. Many of the people who have faced domestic violence from their parents when they were small get conditioned to the fear of violence. Their brain has been trained to panic whenever there are situations like conflicts, disagreements, quarrels or fist fights. Consequently, such people panic even at the sight of quarrels or fights. It is like an unconscious habit. They feel fear even if they do not have any threat from others. (Example- watching strangers fighting over some issue from a distance). Such conditioning that appears from the childhood also contributes to developing anxiety neurosis in the adulthood.
D) Genetic causes of anxiety neurosis
Neurosis is thought to have some influence of heredity. Although not everyone wants to believe that, it appears that anxiety has a genetic side as well. Some people are genetically more probable to develop anxiety disorders. This fact has been observed in many cases where anxiety disorders are found running in families. This does not mean that anxiety neurosis is a genetic disorder. A confluence of genetic susceptibility and environment is necessary for the development of anxiety disorders.
Even if anxiety disorders have a genetic factor it does not mean that they are incurable. anxiety neurosis is curable with the right approach and continual effort. Anti-neurosis training is essential to combat anxiety neurosis. Medication is also a solution but there are long gone debates on whether medical drugs really cure anxiety or not. CBT, on the other hand, improves anxiety neurosis very efficiently. The only requirement is a thorough examination of one’s thoughts and behavior with the Cognitive Therapy Worksheets or instruction from a trained psychotherapist.
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