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Neurotic disorders are psychological disorders characterized by anxiety or distress over certain circumstances. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) reports that neurotic disorders are the most common psychiatric diagnosis. Some of the most common neurotic disorders center on anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress, somatization, and dissociation.
Anxiety is a component of some of the most common neurotic disorders, with as much as 5% of the general population being affected, according to the APA. Common symptoms of anxiety include tremors, muscle tension, sweating, and hyperventilation. Psychological treatment and medications, such as benzodiazepines and antidepressants, can help many individuals with anxiety disorders to manage their symptoms.
Individuals with phobias experience intense and irrational fears of objects or situations that usually lead them to avoid that particular thing or scenario. While many fears do not interfere with daily life, excessive phobias that dominate a person’s life usually require psychological treatment. Treatment usually centers on gradually exposing the patient to the source of the fear and reducing anxiety.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a common neurotic disorder that causes repetitive behaviors and thoughts to preoccupy an individual’s life. Many people diagnosed with this create daily rituals in which they must do things a certain amount of times or a particular way. For example, a sufferer with a fear of germs or illness may wash his hands many times each day, even to the point of making them bleed. Medications and psychological treatment, including behavior modification, are generally successful methods for many obsessive-compulsive patients.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects people who have witnessed, or been exposed to, traumatizing experiences. This neurotic disorder is commonly seen in soldiers who return from war situations. PTSD patients often relive the trauma through flashbacks and dreams, which can lead to insomnia, paranoia, and social withdrawal.
Somatization disorder causes individuals to display psychological stress as physical symptoms. Somatic symptoms are physical symptoms that a patient feels, but that cannot be medically validated through testing and other diagnostic procedures. Psychological treatment is the best course of action for people suffering from this, though many people with the condition resist psychiatric intervention because they believe their symptoms to be truly physical in nature.
Dissociation disorders cause individuals to display different personalities. These neurotic disorders are less common, but as many as 3 to 4% of people hospitalized for psychiatric problems display symptoms of dissociative identity disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. These patients often suffer from memory problems as well. Dissociation disorders can be difficult to treat. A combination of individual and group psychotherapy is usually the best method, but many people never recover completely, and may struggle with multiple identities for life.
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