"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Neuroticism is not any fun and might have a negative impact in your health

January 22, 2024 – In the 1979 comedy Manhattan, Mary (played by Diane Keaton) asks Isaac (Woody Allen) to vent his frustration so that they can finally express their feelings openly. I put on'“I don’t get angry,” Isaac replies. Instead I’m growing a tumor.”

Allen's characters are sometimes neurotic and liable to excessive worry, anxiety and stress. Hollywood has a protracted history of playing this for fun, but in real life Neuroticism has long been linked to poor health, and today more science supports this link.

“There is now a lot of evidence that personality traits are linked to a whole range of health consequences,” said the psychologist Daniel MroczekPhD, Director of Personality and Health at Northwestern University. Neuroticism particularly appears problematic.

People high up Neuroticism generally find the world unsettling and unsafe. They might be moody, tense and liable to sadness.

“They tend to feel their emotions more acutely, are more reactive and take longer to calm down,” he said Shannon Sauer ZavalaPhD, psychologist on the University of Kentucky.

The effects can transcend a nasty mood. Research suggests that neuroticism increases the danger of mental disorders akin to depression and anxiety, in addition to physical illnesses akin to heart disease some Cancer diseases. Some research links neuroticism with neurodegenerative diseases akin to: Alzheimer And Parkinson's. A recent one Meta-analysis suggested that neuroticism increases the danger of dementia, and does so systematically review Facets of neuroticism were linked to early death in a book published last month.

Even an ailment as banal as a headache can have a greater impact on neurotic people: data from the USA, Japan and the Netherlands show this higher neuroticism can increase that Likelihood of headaches.

The big query

Does neuroticism cause poor health or does poor health result in neuroticism? Suffering can definitely make people anxious, anxious, and emotional. And because most of those studies are associative, they can’t prove cause and effect.

But studies that assess and track healthy people over a few years suggest that the personality trait leads, at the very least partially, to poor health, he said Angelina namePhD, Professor of Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine at Florida State University College of Medicine.

One possible reason: Neurotic people often exhibit unhealthy behaviors. Studies show that preschoolers who’re particularly neurotic usually tend to have it start smoking in adolescence. In a study conducted by Sutin and her colleagues, neurotic people had one 15% higher risk Stroke – a finding partly explained by an apparent predilection for smoking and sedentary behavior.

“More stress can cause people to stop doing as much physical activity or [to] Eat more processed comfort foods,” Sutin said.

Aside from unhealthy coping behaviors, neurotic people may have greater physical reactions to emphasize.

In one Study 2021Scientists measured the degrees of neuroticism in greater than a thousand adults and checked how strongly each of them reacted to on a regular basis stressors. The results showed that highly neurotic people had more negative emotions when something didn't go their way (e.g. missing a deadline at work). Years later, when scientists examined collected health data, they found that such emotionally reactive people were more prone to suffer from chronic illnesses akin to ulcers and hypertension.

“When we live in this chronic state of stress, it takes a toll on the body over time,” Sauer-Zavala said. A Study 2022 showed that neurotic people have higher i levelsInterleukin 6 and C-reactive protein – each inflammatory markers – and this was true no matter physical activity, food regimen or smoking. Chronic inflammation has been linked to a spectrum of diseasesof heart disease and diabetes to autoimmune diseases (when your nervous system attacks healthy tissue) and neurodegenerative diseases (conditions that damage your nervous system).

All that stress also can affect sleep: Research shows that individuals are high in neuroticism You may not experience enough quality sleep at night and be more sleepy through the day, each of that are signs of premature death.

Another molecule related to neuroticism is brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is crucial for the upkeep of neurons. People high in neuroticism can have this lower BDNF levelswhich Might explain it the increased risk of Alzheimer's and others neurodegenerative Diseases.

The negative emotions that always accompany neuroticism also can impact gut health. Korean researchers recently found that individuals with high anxiety and susceptibility to emphasize, two facets of neuroticismhave a less diverse gut microbiome – which may have an effect on the general picture Health.

“Healthy” neuroticism?

In the movie city ​​dwellers, Billy Crystal's neurotic character desired to get a CAT scan for his birthday, based on his wife, who called him “Mr. Death.” “I had a headache,” he says in his defense. Apparently the anecdote is meant to be a humorous exaggeration.

Still, some researchers have suggested that increased attention to troubling symptoms could potentially profit neurotic people. Because when you get the suspicious mole checked early – and it’s indeed cancer – this cautious approach could save your life.

In one Study 2023, Mroczek and colleagues found that neurotic individuals are actually more prone to visit their family doctor.

Still, there’s little evidence linking “healthy neuroticism” to raised health outcomes, Mroczek said. As he and his colleagues checked out data from 15 studies In almost 50,000 participants, they found that healthy neuroticism doesn’t reduce the danger of hypertension, diabetes or heart disease. In one other studythe researchers found that it also didn't protect people from premature death.

Sutin suspects that this may very well be one reason Doctors may take such patients “less seriously” and will miss real medical problems. For Sutin, a crucial lesson for physicians shouldn’t be to routinely discount neurotic patients: “Hypervigilance may be detecting some things going on in their body that aren't necessarily detectable by a test yet.”

Treatment of neuroticism

Fortunately, neuroticism is “not set in stone,” Sauer-Zavala said. Research shows that personality might be modified through well-designed treatments, and neuroticism is certainly one of them most supple Trains.

In one Study 2021Sauer-Zavala and colleagues treated 223 volunteers with an approach called tThe Unified Protocol – a comparatively latest treatment designed to assist people take care of intense emotions.

“We spend a lot of time talking about the function of emotions,” Sauer-Zavala said. The technique teaches mindful emotional awareness and has people perform activities intended to trigger physical feelings of fear: spinning in circles so that they feel dizzy, or Breathe through a skinny straw to mimic shortness of breath. At Sauer-Zavala studyThe protocol worked: After 16 weeks, study participants became significantly less neurotic than those within the waitlist control group.

The Unified Protocol Institute offers a list of therapists trained in the strategy. Or you’ll be able to contact any licensed psychotherapist for help managing strong emotions and reducing neurotic tendencies.

Experts agree that personality can change. And that's no joke.