New study links neuroticism and Alzheimers disease

Extensive long term research tracked a set of women over a period of 38 years and suggests that those who are more disgruntled and ‘moody’ in middle age are twice as likely to develop degenerative mental disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, published in the journal Neurology online, categorised the 800 women who took part in the tests by their score on a personality test which looked at how neurotic they were (neuroticism being associated with moodiness, jealousy and anxiety) in 1968, and again in 1974, 1980, 1992, 2000, 2005.

As well as scoring the participants for neuroticism, they were also tested for extraversion.

Of the 800 participants, 153 developed dementia, with 104 of those being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

It was found, when the data was analysed, that those who had a high level of neuroticism and a low level of extraversion were far more likely to develop the disease.

However, it was not just these two factors that were looked at. Distress experienced by the women involved was taken into account, after asking them whether they were stressed by familial or work matters, and how long for.

It is reported that those who scored high on neuroticism and low on extraversion, were even more likely to develop the disease if they were often stressed for long periods of time.

Although personality traits such as a tendency to jealousy and moodiness can be much harder to change, stress and anxiety are most definitely combatable. Mindfulness meditation techniques greatly reduce stress, and over times, those with experience, can even use it to battle neuroticism traits, helping them to gain control of their temper and jealousy.

The more science discovers about the effects that stress has on the body, the more relevant mindfulness becomes. It can help prevent a variety of physiological conditions including diabetes, asthma, and could not potentially aid in Alzheimer’s disease prevention.

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