Neuroticism: Definition, Examples, & How to Cope

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08 February 2024

7 Mins

Do you sometimes feel super anxious, worry a lot, or get stressed over little things? Well, you might be experiencing a personality trait called neuroticism. It's about how your personality affects your reaction to emotions and stress. If you ever feel this way, don't worry; you're not alone; lots of people feel the same.

No matter if you're the calmest person in the room or tend to get nervous, neuroticism plays a role in shaping how you handle life's ups and downs. So, let's understand the aspects of this personality trait and discover how it can impact your everyday experiences.

But first, let’s define neuroticism.

What Is Neuroticism?

Neuroticism is a personality trait that describes how prone a person is to experiencing negative emotions like anxiety, worry, and stress. A person with high neuroticism may be more likely to feel upset, nervous, or moody, even in situations that others might find less emotionally challenging.

On the other hand, people with low neuroticism tend to be more emotionally stable and less disturbed by life's ups and downs. It's one of the Big Five personality traits, which are broad categories used to understand and describe different aspects of a person's personality and provide a complete view of their emotional and behavioral tendencies.

Understand the reason behind your neuroticism with a professional expert for free.

Neurotic Behavior Vs. Mental Health Disorders

Experiencing neurotic behavior doesn't automatically mean you have a mental health disorder. Neurotic tendencies are part of normal human variation. While neurotic behavior is a normal part of personality, mental health disorders involve more persistent and severe disruptions that can affect your overall well-being.

Neurotic personality refers to patterns of elevated stress, anxiety, and emotional reactions such as uncertainties in plans or unexpected challenges in daily routines that can lead to worry and uneasiness. However, mental health disorders are more serious conditions that significantly impact thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, requiring professional diagnosis and treatment.

How Common Is Neuroticism?

Research shows that neuroticism is normally distributed in the general population, meaning that most people fall somewhere in the middle, displaying moderate levels of neuroticism. However, there are people at both extremes—some with very low neuroticism (emotionally more stable) and others with very high neuroticism (emotionally more reactive).

It is important to note that the neuroticism personality trait may be influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors and can change over time due to life experiences and other life aspects.

Common Neuroticism Examples

In your everyday life, you may come across various examples of neuroticism. Here are some common scenarios that show neurotic behavior or tendencies:

  • Excessive worrying
  • Frequent symptoms of anxiety
  • Tendency to be easily upset or stressed
  • Fearfulness about future events
  • Perfectionism and fear of making mistakes
  • Self-doubt and insecurity
  • Emotional reactivity to minor setbacks
  • Difficulty handling stress
  • Chronic dissatisfaction
  • Tendency to overthink situations

How Neuroticism Affects Behavior and Relationships

High levels of neuroticism can influence your behavior and relationships in several ways and here are some of them:

1. Overthinking and worrying

You may find yourself overthinking and worrying about various aspects of your life, even minor issues like what to wear on a casual day or which movie to watch. This constant worry can affect your decision-making and lead to unnecessary stress.

2. Emotional reactivity

High neuroticism can make you more emotionally reactive to situations. You may experience intense emotions, such as anxiety or sadness, in response to events that others might find less distressing.

3. Fear of rejection

You may have a heightened fear of rejection or criticism that impacts your relationships. This fear might lead to avoidance of social situations or an excessive need for reassurance from others.

4. Difficulty coping with stress

Everyday stressors might be more challenging for you to cope with. Simple setbacks, like a minor mistake at work or a change in plans, can seem like significant obstacles, and you might find it hard to quickly recover from these difficulties.

5. Impact on relationships

In relationships, your neurotic tendencies may contribute to misunderstandings or conflict. Your partner or friends may have to deal with your emotional ups and downs, which will affect the overall dynamics of your relationships.

What Causes Neuroticism?

Neuroticism is influenced by a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors. Here are some key contributors to the formation of neuroticism:

1. Genetics

Research suggests that a portion of individual differences in neuroticism can be attributed to genetic variations. For instance, if one or both of your parents tend to be more anxious or easily stressed, there's a possibility that genetic variations contribute to your own tendency towards neuroticism.

2. Brain structure and chemistry

The structure and functioning of the brain, particularly areas associated with emotion regulation and stress response, can contribute to neurotic tendencies. Variations in neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, are also linked to emotional stability.

3. Early life experiences

Childhood experiences, especially those related to attachment, parental relationships, and early stressors, can influence the development of neuroticism. Traumatic events or inconsistent caregiving may contribute to heightened emotional reactivity.

4. Personality development

The development of personality traits, including neuroticism, is a complex interplay of genetic predispositions and environmental influences. Moreover, as you go through life and mature, your personality can be molded by various life experiences.

5. Environmental stressors

Exposure to chronic stressors or traumatic events in adulthood can contribute to the expression of neurotic behaviors. High-stress environments and a lack of coping resources may worsen neurotic tendencies.

6. Cultural and social factors

Cultural and societal norms can also influence the expression of neuroticism. For example, in Indian culture, which particularly focuses on perfectionism and high achievement, you may feel immense pressure to meet these standards, which can lead to increased neurotic tendencies.

There can be reasons of having neurotic tendencies, understand yours with a professional expert for free.

How to Deal With Neuroticism

Dealing with neuroticism can be challenging but taking small steps and being patient with yourself can contribute to positive changes over time. Here are some steps you can take to manage it:

1. Understand your patterns

Start by paying attention to when you feel most anxious or stressed. When you identify the situations that trigger your neuroticism, it can help you better understand and manage it.

2. Practice relaxation techniques

Learn and use simple relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or mindfulness. These can help calm your mind and reduce the intensity of your emotional reactions.

3. Challenge negative thoughts

When you catch yourself thinking negatively or imagining the worst-case scenario, try to challenge those thoughts. Ask yourself if there is evidence supporting these thoughts or if there might be a more balanced perspective.

4. Set realistic goals

To manage neuroticism, consider using the SMART goal strategy, which breaks down important tasks into smaller, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals. Setting realistic expectations for yourself can reduce feelings of overwhelm and make it easier to achieve success.

5. Build a support system

Share your feelings with trusted friends or family members, as having a support system can provide comfort and perspective. Sometimes, talking about your worries can make them feel less overwhelming.

6. Develop healthy habits

Take care of your physical health by getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising regularly. A healthy lifestyle can positively impact your overall wellbeing and help manage neurotic tendencies.

7. Learn stress management techniques

Learn different stress management techniques, such as time management, organization skills, and problem-solving strategies. When you use effective ways to cope with stressors, it can make a big difference in your overall lifestyle.

8. Seek professional help

If your neuroticism significantly affects your daily life, consider seeking professional help. Therapists and counselors can provide guidance, teach coping skills, and offer support tailored to your personal needs. You can even gain insights into the roots of your emotional reactions to understand the reasons behind your neurotic tendencies.

Final Thoughts

If you find yourself often worrying, feeling anxious, or reacting strongly to things, that might be a sign of neuroticism. Neuroticism is a common part of our personalities, and it's okay to acknowledge and understand the tendencies to further take steps to manage them.

If it becomes overwhelming to handle on your own, seeking support from professionals is always an option. Everyone is unique, and finding what works for you in handling neurotic tendencies is part of the journey toward a healthier and more balanced life.

How Can Now&Me Help You?

If you are struggling with neurotic behavior, Now&Me is here to provide support on your journey to understanding and managing your emotions. Our platform offers a secure and confidential space for you to openly discuss your feelings and connect with qualified experts who can guide you through the challenges of neurotic tendencies.

Our affordable therapy options, starting at just Rs 30/-, make professional help accessible to everyone. In addition to therapy, Now&Me provides valuable self-help resources, including articles, guides, and forums. You can also join our supportive community, where you can freely share your thoughts without fear of judgment.

With Now&Me, you have a holistic approach to addressing neurotic behavior. Take the first step towards understanding and managing your emotions by downloading the Now&Me app today.

Talk to a professional expert and get to the bottom of your neurotic tendencies for free.


Now&Me articles are written by experienced mental health contributors and are purely based on scientific research and evidence-based practices, which are thoroughly reviewed by experts, including therapists and psychologists with various specialties, to ensure accuracy and alignment with current industry standards.

However, it is important to note that the information provided is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Individual circumstances vary, and it is advisable to consult with a qualified mental health professional for personalized advice and guidance.

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