People with stable emotions are at a lower risk of developing anxiety and depression, research finds.
Emotional stability is linked to being better at dealing with stress and minor frustrations.
People who are emotionally stable usually find it easier to control their urges and are mostly unselfconscious.
On top of this, people with stable emotions tend to live longer, perhaps because it leads to a healthier lifestyle.
In contrast, being neurotic — the opposite of emotional stability — is linked to less happiness in life.
Unfortunately, the personality trait can lead to a shorter lifespan.
Part of the reason may be that worriers tend to self-medicate with alcohol, cigarettes and other unhealthy habits.
The conclusions come from a study of 1,788 men who were followed over 30 years.
The results showed that neurotic people were more likely to smoke and this was linked to higher mortality.
Professor Daniel K. Mroczek, the study’s first author, said:
“Research shows that higher levels of neuroticism can lead to earlier mortality, and we wanted to know why.
We found that having worrying tendencies or being the kind of person who stresses easily is likely to lead to bad behaviors like smoking and, therefore, raise the mortality rate.
This work is a reminder that high levels of some personality traits can be hazardous to one’s physical health.”
It is possible to change a neurotic personality, though, the results of 207 separate studies have found.
People become significantly less neurotic after undergoing therapy.
After only three months of treatment, people’s emotional stability had improved by half as much as it would over their entire adulthood.
After having psychotherapy and/or taking medication, people were also slightly more extraverted.
Both reduced neuroticism and increased extraversion were maintained in the long-term.
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
The study was published in the Journal of Research in Personality (Mroczek et al., 2009).