Researchers find excessive worrying has a ‘protective effect’
Neurosis, an umbrella term to describe functional mental disorders, is defined by psychologist C George Boeree as a “poor ability to adapt to one’s environment [or] to change one’s life patterns”. With symptoms including irritability, impulsiveness, and obsessive behaviours, neurosis can sometimes lead to OCD, phobias, and increased levels of anxiety.
This all sounds very life-limiting, but a remarkable new study has linked neuroticism to a reduction in the risk of early death.
The UK study asked more than 500,000 people between the ages of 37–73 about their lifestyle, medical conditions, and health levels over a six-year period, and found those who had shown characteristics of neurosis typically outlived those who didn’t.
Although researchers found no difference among people who rated their health as “excellent” with those who rated their health as “fair” or “poor”, participants with higher levels of neuroticism had a slightly reduced risk of death. Lead researcher, Catherine R Gale, also noted that “people who scored highly on one aspect of neuroticism related to worry and vulnerability had a reduced risk of death regardless of how they rated their health”. Gale said the next step for research is finding out why this was the case.