A Personality Change Like This May Signal Dementia

The personality changes came ahead of more obvious behavioural changes linked to Alzheimer’s.

The personality changes came ahead of more obvious behavioural changes linked to Alzheimer’s.

Increases in neuroticism may help to predict the onset of Alzheimer’s, new research finds.

Neuroticism is one of the five major personality traits and it involves a tendency towards worry and moodiness.

Neuroticism is characterised by negative thinking in a range of areas.

Neuroticism is strongly linked to anxiety, sadness, irritability and self-consciousness.

People who transition from mild cognitive impairment to full-blown Alzheimer’s are more likely to show personality changes.

Many people with mild cognitive impairment do not go on to develop dementia.

Both increased neuroticism and lower openness to experience predict the progression of the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease.

The conclusions come from a study that followed people for more than 7 years.

They were tested for personality, anxiety, depression and other symptoms.

The researchers found that personality changes typically came after memory had begun to worsen.

Increases in depression, anxiety and anger were strongly linked to the transition to dementia.

However, the personality changes came before typical behaviour changes — such as like mood swings — were obvious.

The study’s authors write that Alzheimer’s disease is…

“…characterized by greater neuroticism and less openness; and coincide with subtle, clinically insignificant behavioral changes that qualitatively mirror and anticipate the clinically severe behavioral problems that often complicate dementia care.”

The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (Caselli et al., 2018).

Author: Dr Jeremy Dean

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.

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