This Personality Trait Doubles Dementia Risk

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Dementia risk doubled in
people with high on this major personality trait.
Being neurotic may double the
risk of developing dementia later in life, research reveals.
The major personality trait of
neuroticism involves a tendency towards worry and moodiness.
People who are neurotic are
more likely to experience negative emotions like depression, anxiety, guilt and
However, the link between
neuroticism and dementia only occured in people experiencing long-standing
In other words, neurotic
people are particularly sensitive to chronic stress.
Neurotic people not exposed to
excessive stress were at no greater risk of dementia.
Dr Lena Johannsson, the
study’s first author, said:
“We could see that the women
who developed Alzheimer disease had more often been identified in the
personality test 40 years earlier as having neurotic tendencies. 
We found a clear statistical
correlation for the women who had at the same time been subject to a long period
of stress.”
The study followed 800 women
with an average of 46 for almost four decades.
They were asked if they had
experienced prolonged periods of stress.
This meant a month or more of
ongoing stress related to family, work or health that created feelings of
nervousness, fear and irritability.
Thirty-eight years later,
one-in-five had developed dementia.
The risk was substantially
higher, though, in those who were neurotic.
An even more vulnerable group
were those who were both neurotic and introverted — women with this combination
were at the highest risk.
Dr Johannsson said:
“We know that many factors
influence the risk of developing dementia. 
Our personality may determine
behavior, lifestyle and how we react to stress, and in this way affect the risk
of developing Alzheimer disease.”
However, neuroticism can be
changed by therapy and its effects can be reduced.
Dr Johannsson said:
“Some studies have shown that
long periods of stress can increase the risk of Alzheimer disease, and our main
hypothesis is that it is the stress itself that is harmful. 
A person with neurotic
tendencies is more sensitive to stress than other people.”
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:
The study was published in the
journal Neurology (Johansson et al., 2014).

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.