The terms neurotic and psychotic are both used to describe conditions or illnesses that affect mental health. Though neurotic and psychotic are both relative to mental health, there are differences between neurotic and psychotic conditions. The terms neurosis and psychosis are sometimes used interchangeably with neurotic and psychotic disorders.
A neurotic disorder can be any mental imbalance that causes or results in distress. In general, neurotic conditions do not impair or interfere with normal day to day functions, but rather create the very common symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress. It is believed that most people suffer from some sort of neurosis as a part of human nature.
As an example, some people are afraid or unable to speak in front of large crowds. As a result, any situation that might warrant public speaking can cause symptoms from nervous nausea to vomiting, or from trembling to excessive perspiration. Some people suffer more severe symptoms of neurosis than others, and some forms of neurosis are more marked, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, neurosis is not as severe as psychosis.
Psychosis, or a psychotic disorder, is believed to be more of a symptom than a diagnosis. As a psychiatric term, psychosis refers to any mental state that impairs thought, perception, and judgement. Psychotic episodes might affect a person with or without a mental disease. A person experiencing a psychotic episode might hallucinate, become paranoid, or experience a change in personality.
Generally speaking, the psychotic state is not permanent. Psychotic behavior differs from psychopathic behavior, and psychotic episodes rarely involve the violence associated with psychopathic behavior. Psychotic is also not the same as insane, which is both a medical and a legal description for a person who cannot be held accountable for his or her actions.
In essence, the primary difference between neurotic and psychotic is the manner in which they affect mental health. Neurotic behavior can be naturally present in any person and linked to a developed personality. Psychotic behavior can come and go as a result of various influences. The effects of some drugs can cause psychotic episodes, or a traumatic situation that affects a person’s psychological well-being might trigger the episode. Distinguishing between neurotic and psychotic conditions or disorders is accomplished through an evaluation by a psychiatrist or psychologist, who may treat symptoms with medication or therapy.