Anxiety, jealousy and moodiness in middle age are associated with doubling the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, a new study finds.
The study followed 800 women for 38 years and looked at the effects of their neuroticism on the chance of developing dementia.
Neuroticism is a personality trait that includes moodiness, worrying and anxiety.
In general, people who are neurotic are more likely to be anxious, depressed, jealous or envious.
Along with the personality test, the women were also asked if they’d recently been through a stressful period in their lives that lasted one month or more.
This could have been due to work, family, or other circumstance, and it might have caused irritability, lack of sleep, anxiety or fear.
The women were also given tests of their memory, since problems with this are one of the main signs of dementia.
The results showed that more neurotic women who were under high levels of stress were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Out of the original 800, 63 women were high on neuroticism, and of these 25%, or 16 people developed Alzheimer’s
In comparison, 64 women were low on neuroticism and only 13%, or 8 of these people, developed Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Lena Johannsson, who led the study, said:
“Most Alzheimer’s research has been devoted to factors such as education, heart and blood risk factors, head trauma, family history and genetics.
Personality may influence the individual’s risk for dementia through its effect on behavior, lifestyle or reactions to stress.”
• Read on: 10 Ways to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Alzheimer’s image from Shutterstock