Neurosis is a mental disorder characterized by irritability, bursts of emotion from exuberant joy to depression, and a sharp deterioration of health – these manifestations may indicate the presence of neurosis. It is important to distinguish it from a person’s natural crankiness and an anxiety disorder or neurosis-like schizophrenia. Let’s consider the symptoms and signs of these pathologies, and learn what their difference is from each other.
Neurosis, as noted above, is a mental disorder characterized by destructive behavioural symptoms and hysterical and asthenic reactions against a background of decreased mental and physical performance. Neuroses are not easy to diagnose; they often have a latent course. Neurotic patients often fail to discover the abnormality themselves, paying attention to their psycho-emotional state only during critical moments of breakdowns and hysterical attacks. The patient’s relatives do not notice the abnormality either, since the neurotic disorders are latent, occurring from time to time. Often patients isolate themselves, limiting their social circle and preventing them from noticing the abnormal behaviour.
Causes of neuroses
Experts believe that the main factor leading to the formation of a neurotic state is various psycho-traumas. It can be a stressful situation at work, an intimate problem, or even a psychological trauma that happened in childhood and manifested in adulthood.
In childhood, we are in a position of constant imprinting – the fixation of certain information in the memory and dependence on it. Many of the impressions and experiences of a child leave a mark on their future life.
However, almost everyone gets into difficult situations, and few can boast of a completely unclouded childhood. Why do not all develop neuroses? The fact that only experience and stress alone do not lead to the development of neurosis. They must lie on prepared ground. It affects the personality, character traits, and inborn temperament.
Some symptoms suggest a neurotic state, but a specialist can only make the final diagnosis.
Symptoms of neurosis
The disease occurs in very different ways, but there are some common symptoms:
- Mistrustfulness and anxiety;
- Sudden mood swings for insignificant reasons;
- Depressive mood;
- Difficulties in adapting to changed conditions;
- Obsessive states.
Rarely the following factors can lead to the occurrence of neurosis:
- Infectious diseases of the brain;
- Alcoholism, taking psychotropic substances;
- Head injuries;
- Chronic overexertion;
- Lack of sleep.
Because of neurosis, cardiac activity and breathing may be disturbed. Gastrointestinal problems, spinal pain, chills, sleep disorders, and problems in the intimate sphere (impotence, frigidity) can occur. Frequent symptoms include chronic fatigue, irritability, sensitivity to external stimuli (sounds and smells), and dizziness.
Types of neuroses
In medical practice, neurotic pathologies are classified according to the patient’s condition. Here are some of the most common ones.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorders. This disease is characterized by an irresistible desire of the person to perform repetitive actions, such as clicking a pen or counting objects. The compulsive condition also manifests itself in fear of becoming infected, of harming oneself, as a result of which it turns into an increased desire for hygiene:
- Washing hands every half hour
- Brushing teeth
- Putting in perfect order
- Fear of touching surfaces in public places
This form of the disease greatly impairs the quality of life and affects the patient’s socialization and ability to work.
- 2. Hysterical neurosis. It is expressed in demonstrative behavior that violates the norms accepted in the community. Can express Stress reactions in this disorder in the following: hysterical laughter or screaming, feigned behavior to attract the attention of others, shortness of breath, tachycardia, stuttering, and other psychosomatic manifestations.
- 3. Anxiety-phobic disorders. The patient experiences unreasonable anxiety and fear due to the possibility of being in certain situations: in the spotlight, receiving a negative assessment from others, to be in a confined space.
- 4. Depressive disorders. The patient experiences homesickness, loneliness, anxiety, apathy, abandonment, and feeling unwanted. He complains of increased fatigue and impaired memory and attention.
All of these manifestations of neurosis are closely intertwined and can be combined. How to distinguish them from each other and schizophrenia can only be understood by a doctor after examination of the patient and a thorough conversation with him. Diagnosis is very important in such cases: the difference between the manifestations of acute neurosis and mental disorders may be negligible. In addition, it is important to distinguish signs of neurotic disorder from other pathologies: heart disease, hypertension, and the effects of trauma.
Neurosis and schizophrenia: differences in pathologies
These two conditions may have similar symptoms. But neurosis, unlike schizophrenia, has a reversible character that is curable with appropriate therapy, which is not the case with schizophrenia.
A neurotic breakdown can occur in any person. It is provoked by stress or psychological trauma. Schizophrenia is a difficult disease to diagnose, the causes of which are not fully understood. External factors can contribute to the aggravation of this pathology, but its true cause is not. At the same time, schizophrenia is an endogenous disease that arises due to genetic disposition and personality traits.
Differences in treatment prognosis also cause the difference between the manifestations of schizophrenia and some kinds of neurosis. Emotional disorder completely passes with appropriate therapy: taking medication, clever work with a psychotherapist who identifies the causes and teaches the patient new models of behaviour and perception, returning to normal life. It happens that not even the assistance of a specialist is required if the stress factors have ceased to act and the person has recovered independently.
If a person has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, it will require observation for the rest of their life. This illness is completely incurable. It is possible to achieve a period of prolonged remission, but there may be a relapse at any moment.
The difference between schizophrenia and neuroses is also in symptoms. For example, the mental disorder is often accompanied by delusions and hallucinations, often violent. The patient sees voices that force him to perform various acts. He experiences suffering and tries to get rid of it by following instructions. During neurosis, the person may experience illusions (usually before dreaming or waking up) but does not lose contact with reality, being aware of what is happening.
The same factor contributes to the fact that neurotic patients go to doctors themselves, feeling anxious about their condition. People with schizophrenia have no critical attitude toward themselves; they do not realize that their behaviour is deviant and violates the norms accepted in society. And suppose relatives and friends of the neurotic may not realize his problem. In that case, the manifestation of schizophrenia is impossible to hide from the surrounding people, and the patient does not try to do it.
The difference between the manifestations of neurosis and true schizophrenia is also in the changes in the brain: its study showed the presence of organic changes in people with schizophrenia and their absence in neurotics. As the mental deviation progresses, the patient’s personality disintegrates: he becomes estranged from society, passive, and unemotional. In neurotic disorders, the character and properties of the personality do not change.
Can neurosis develop to schizophrenia?
The opinion that neurosis can develop into schizophrenia is mistaken. These diseases are fundamentally different and, above all, differ in their origin. They may be united by some external manifestations, such as the presence of phobias, obsessions, and depression, but the cardinal differences are much more – we wrote about them above.
Symptoms of neurotic disorder disappear after psychological help, while schizophrenia attacks have a chronic course. Sometimes it is difficult for a doctor to make a correct diagnosis right away, and what seemed at first to be a neurosis turns out to be a psychiatric abnormality. However, this does not mean that it does turn into schizophrenia – just that the symptoms of mental deviation manifested gradually, resembling a neurotic disorder at the beginning.
Schizophrenia neurosis: the main differences from neurosis
One type of schizophrenia is called a flaccid or schizotypal disorder, in which a neurosis-like form is distinguished. In contrast to classical schizophrenia, accompanied by delirium, hallucinations, and personality disintegration, it has the symptoms of neurosis, so it is sometimes difficult to distinguish them. Appropriate psycho-correction and medication can achieve remission for many years.
Despite the similarity in symptoms, schizophrenia neurosis is still different from neurosis. In this situation, the psychiatrist needs to make a correct diagnosis because, under unfavourable circumstances, sluggish schizophrenia can develop into serious mental pathologies – this is its main difference from neurosis.
How can I tell the difference between sluggish schizophrenia and neurosis? Here are the symptoms of schizotypal disorder that a doctor looks for when making a diagnosis:
- The presence of strange, illogical, yet obsessive phobias, such as having teeth that will fall through the gum or fear of counting to 10 because, after that, death will come.
- Hypochondriacal manifestations – the patient suspects himself of having a terrible, incurable disease, which is only a figment of his imagination.
- Dissatisfaction with a part of their body that seems too ugly or hypertrophied but is, in fact, perfectly normal (such as the nose or ears).
- Obsessive-compulsive behaviours require repetition, such as going to bed in the same position, constantly washing their hands, checking every half hour to see if the kettle is off, etc.
- Obsessive ideas about what the patient constantly thinks.
All the above symptoms are not inherent to neurotics, except for some obsessions. But suppose they are aware of the abnormality of their behaviour and strive to see a doctor for neurosis-like schizophrenia. In that case, the person is unaware of the inadequacy and senselessness of their actions.
Treatment of neuroses
While modern psychiatry has not yet found a way to cure schizophrenic disorders cardinally, it has learned how to deal with neuroses. First of all, therapy consists of the elimination of the psychologically traumatic factor.
For example, suppose a neurotic disorder has developed due to a disrupted daily routine, sleep deprivation, and severe emotional stress. In that case, it is necessary to correct these circumstances, normalize the schedule, and regulate sleep and wakefulness times. If a difficult emotional state is a consequence of psychological trauma, including childhood negative emotions, you need to seek help from a psychotherapist or psychologist. A specialist will determine the causes of psychological discomfort and apply therapies to eliminate them.
For the treatment of neuroses are also used medications: neuroleptics, tranquilizers, antidepressants, and sedatives. A massage, aroma, phytotherapy, and various relaxation procedures are prescribed to relieve emotional stress.