How Neuroticism Can Color Your Life

Why Those With Neurotic Tendencies Cope Poorly with Life's Ups and Downs

Depression. Christopher Furlong / Staff / Getty Images

Neuroticism is an enduring tendency to experience negative emotional states, such as anxiety, anger, guilt, and depression. Those who score high on neuroticism scales are more likely than average to respond poorly to stress and to interpret situations as threatening or hopelessly difficult.

Can Neuroticism Adversely Affect My Overall Health and Well Being?

Neuroticism is a prospective risk factor for many common mood disorders, such as depression, phobia, panic disorder, other anxiety disorders, and substance use disorder.

 And the stress these mood disorders and negative emotions cause has actually been shown to shorten one's life. 

According to a study conducted by researchers at Purdue University, men with neurotic personalities don't exactly fare well over the long term. They followed 1,600 men for 12 years and, at the end of the study, only 50 percent of the men with high or increasing neuroticism were alive compared to 75 to 85 percent of the other group.

Why Does Neuroticism Impact Life Expectancy?

While researchers aren't sure why people with neurotic personalities have a lower life expectancy, many theorize that the culprit is stress. Neurotic people are likely to have more stress hormones in their bodies, causing them to experience a number of complications. 

If I'm Neurotic, Is It Possible for Me To Change?

There are steps you can take to reverse the impacts of neuroticism. A large sum of research has found that relaxation, for example, is good for your health.

So learning stress reduction and relaxation techniques can help. Consider trying:

​You can also work on pinpointing the most common causes of neurotic emotions in your life, and seeing if there's a way to reduce these sources of stress. For example, changing the way you approach your work day can alter the way it affects you.

Cutting sources of stress out of your life entirely can also have a huge impact. Or even changing the way you think about a source of stress can make a difference.

Finding an outlet for your negative emotions can also help. In addition to relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation, look for opportunities for activities that bring more joy to your life, or help you release endorphins.

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