Jealous Women At Risk

Neurotic Personality Doubles Alzheimer's Risk

HLM Anxious, Distressed Women

HLM Anxious, Distressed Women

We know genetics drive personality but only now are we understanding how personality drives disease.

Middle-aged women who’ve spent their lives allowing their emotions to be completely swept up by the ebbs and flows of living may well have suffer an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Swedish researchers’ results from a four decade long study, published in Neurology, indicate the neurotic personality with prolonged stress is the culprit.

Women with the highest scores for being anxious, jealous and moody—three personality traits defined as neurotic—doubled their risk of developing the disease compared to those who scored lowest.

“No other study has shown that [one style of] midlife personality increased the risk of Alzheimer’s disease over a period of nearly 40 years,” Lena Johansson, a researcher at University of Gothenburg and study author, said.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, a memory loss condition that affects language, judgment and perception. Although 5.2 million people in the US have been diagnosed, experts expect these numbers to climb dramatically with the aging baby boomer generation.

Are You Neurotic?

Studies show neurotic people are overly sensitive and don’t do well under stress, are likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening and find hopelessness even with minor frustration. Self conscious and shy as well, the neurotic personality has difficulty controlling their responses and are at higher risk for depression, panic disorder, phobias and quite possibly, based on the latest research, Alzheimer’s disease.

Guilt, Anger, Envy, Worry

Averaging 46 when the study began in the 1960s, one of the few to focus on women’s health, over the next 38 years, those women who were most distressed, anxious, jealous, moody, nervous, sleep deprived, fearful, irritable and tense also suffered more guilt, anger, envy, worry and depression.

Extroverts Win

While being introverted or extroverted alone didn’t seem to affect dementia risk, those study participants who were both distressed and withdrawn had the highest risk of Alzheimer’s. Some 25% of these women succumbed to the disease while only 13% who were outgoing (extroverted) and not easily distressed did.

Neurosis Changes Hippocampus

The study authors say that the neurotic personality, combined with stress, causes changes in the hippocampus, the brain region that shows the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

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