Neurosis vs. Psychosis

Both neurosis and psychosis are used to classify mental illnesses, which allows physicians to make a more specific diagnosis. Classifying a mental illness also helps the physician choose the correct procedures for treatment. For example, neurosis is treated with anti-anxiety medications, but using the same drugs to treat psychosis may not cause any improvement in the patient’s symptoms.

Knowing the difference between both classificatons is extremely important, especially when it comes to the treatment and prevention of mental illness.

Neurosis vs. Psychosis: What is Neurosis?

Neurosis is a term given to mental illnesses that causes emotional distress or stress without affecting a person’s ability to think clearly. The term was first used in the 1700s in the book Synopsis Nosologiae Methodicae by William Cullen, a chemist and physician. He first used it to describe epilepsy, although in modern times it is used to describe a plethora of non-psychotic mental illnesses.

Although it is no longer considered an official classification, many physicians still use it to describe mental illnesses such as social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, specific phobias, and obsessive compulsive disorder.

This classification typically includes anxiety and fear-based disorders. The origin of its name comes from the Greek root neuron, which means nerve. All nervous disorders are included in this classification.

Neurosis vs. Psychosis: What is Psychosis?

Unlike neurosis, psychosis has a stronger effect on the brain and mental functioning. According to HubPages.com, psychosis is a term given to mental disorders that cause the deterioration of a person’s ability to socialize, communicate, and rationalize.

These types of mental illnesses affects a person’s ability to see reality clearly because of a brain or nervous system dysfunction.

Types of mental illnesses classified under psychosis include schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Other disorders that cause a loss of control are also classified under this area of mental illness.

Differences Between Neurosis and Psychosis

Both classifications are also caused by different triggers. Depending on the trigger, the physician can develop better treatments for each specific illness. These triggers include:

  • Other medical issues, such as insomnia or starvation. Neurosis is not triggered by other medical issues, but psychosis is. Oftentimes temporary psychosis is caused by malnutrition, not eating for an extended period of time, or not being able to sleep.
  • Psychoactive drugs. Illegal drugs such as cocaine and LSD can cause psychotic-like symptoms, but typically does not contribute to neurosis.
  • Environmental hazards. Emotional trauma and accidents triggers psychosis and neurosis, but emotional trauma is likely to cause neurotic symptoms, including irrational fears, anxiety in certain situations, and obsessions.
  • Genetics. Genetics also plays a role in both classifications, although it is more prevalent in neurosis.

Neurosis vs. Psychosis: Two Distinct Classifications

There are several clear distinctions between both classifications, which not only determine the proper treatment but also the cause of the disorder, triggers, and the symptoms it can cause. Both classifications can be managed with medications, but therapy, especially psychotherapy, can treat the triggers that affect both classiciations of mental illness. As with all mental illnesses, understanding each classification also dispels myths or rumors about any illnesses.


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