The word neurotic is often used incorrectly to describe someone who is paranoid, worried, or frightened, but neuroticism is not a mental illness or psychological disorder. In truth, being neurotic is a personality trait — a pattern of feelings, thoughts, and actions that is longstanding and stabilizes in adulthood. It is more prominent in some people than others.
All personality traits exist on a spectrum, and everyone falls somewhere on that spectrum. Neuroticism is one of the five main personality traits, along with experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, and agreeableness. Someone who is neurotic tends to have more negative emotions than positive. Emotional stability is the opposite of neuroticism.
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