5 Things to Say to Help Your Neurotic Friend

Learn how to gently help a friend or loved one overcome neurotic tendencies and change their life for the better.

Know someone who gets easily frazzled in stressful situations, or freezes up when faced with an important decision? These may be signs of neuroticism.

While the term ‘neurotic’ is often tossed around in pop culture as an insult, it’s actually a personality trait that some researchers believe deserves more attention. In fact, it may be a sign of other mental and physical disorders, according to Benjamin Lahey, PhD, from the University of Chicago in an article published in the journal American Psychologist[1].

Neurotic people experience feelings of sadness, anxiety, worry, self-consciousness, and irritability when faced with both major and minor life stressors. These negative emotions can lead a person to avoid making decisions or taking action to move forward with life, according to a press release for a new study published in the Journal of Personality[3].[2]

Learn About Ways To Fight Stress »[4]

In this study of nearly 4,000 college students in 19 countries, researchers found that the reason neurotic people have such trouble tackling stress is because they have less positive attitudes toward taking action than non-neurotic people do. So, if you want to help your neurotic friend or loved one, having a persuasive conversation with them may change the way they view their life problems and gently prod them into action.

Don’t know what to say? Follow these five simple tips from Dr. Julia Samton, who is board certified in psychiatry and neurology and the director of Manhattan Neuropsychiatric[5] in New York City.

One way to help your friend or loved one is to reassure them that, in most cases, the situation they’re facing is not life or death, Samton said.

“It helps to be as non-judgmental as possible and to try to do what you can to reassure without criticizing,” she said.

Suggesting that your friend take time to go for a walk outside or do something else to clear his or her head, such as practicing deep breathing, can help him or her sort through conflicting emotions as well as look at the situation more realistically, Samton said.

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