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Neuroticism and Your Health

June 12, 2023
3 minutes
Evidation Highlights
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Many researchers generally agree that personality is made up of 5 unique traits: 

  • Conscientiousness (organization, productiveness, responsibility)
  • Extraversion (sociability, assertiveness; its opposite is Introversion)
  • Agreeableness (compassion, respectfulness, trust in others)
  • Openness (intellectual curiosity and creative imagination)
  • Neuroticism (tendencies toward anxiety and depression)

Some people may have very high or low levels of any single trait, but most of us fall somewhere in-between.

What is neuroticism?

Neuroticism is a broad personality trait that describes how much a person may experience difficult emotions, such as guilt, sadness, or anxiety. 

  • Those with high levels of neuroticism may be more likely to experience emotions such as moodiness and worry. They may also be more likely to experience self-consciousness or shyness, or to think of certain situations as threatening. 
  • Those with low levels of neuroticism may be less likely to experience negative emotions, and might tend to experience more balanced feelings and reactions during stressful situations. Low scorers may also experience a lot of optimism and resilience. 

Why does neuroticism matter for health?

The relationship between neuroticism and physical health is complicated. In general, high neuroticism may be related to more disease and worse self-reported health. 

However, people who are high in neuroticism may also be more likely to notice and report symptoms than people who are low in neuroticism. Basically, it’s unclear whether people with high neuroticism might actually have worse health or are more likely to report their symptoms. 

When looking at more concrete measures of health such as how long a person lives, the research is mixed. Just like with some of the other personality traits, it’s likely that any level of neuroticism is health-protective in some situations, and risky in others.

Although research has found that neuroticism relates to mental and physical health, having a low or high score doesn’t necessarily mean someone will have poor health. No matter what level of neuroticism a person has, they can use what research has uncovered about personality and health to improve their well-being. 

We recently offered our members the opportunity to take a survey to see where they fall on the spectrum for neuroticism. If you’re an Evidation Member who took the survey and received your neuroticism results, read on to understand what a high or low score may mean for your health. If you’re not a member and want to see results like these, download the Evidation app.

I scored high on neuroticism. What could this mean for my health?

If you tend to experience high levels of stress and worry, take a moment to think about how you deal with those emotions. If your ways of dealing with stress could harm your health, consider replacing those behaviors with new methods of stress relief, such as: 

  • Going for walks
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Calling a trusted friend 

However, if you cope with stress with healthy amounts of exercise and leaning on social support, you may be less likely to experience some of the negative health effects of high neuroticism.

And remember–being high in neuroticism is different from being diagnosed with an affective disorder such as major depressive disorder. Though you may be more likely to experience unsettling emotions, it is not a diagnosis.

If you feel as though your emotions are preventing you from enjoying your life, talk to your healthcare provider. 

I scored low on neuroticism. What could this mean for my health?

Interestingly, being worry-free doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Some research suggests that individuals who are low in neuroticism may be less likely to seek medical attention when experiencing symptoms. 

Make sure you keep up with your doctors’ appointments and have a healthcare provider investigate any new symptoms you may be experiencing. 

Want to receive more personalized health insights? Complete cards daily in the Evidation app and, if you haven’t already, connect a compatible health app. 

Don’t yet have an Evidation account? Download the app today!

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