Anxious, moody women at higher risk of Alzheimer's
While most Alzheimer’s research focuses on genetics, head trauma and cardiovascular disease, a new study published in the journal Neurology takes a look at how personality traits may affect a woman’s Alzheimer’s risk.
To conduct their study, a research team in Sweden analyzed 800 women, with an average age of 46. Over 38 years of follow-up, the women were required to complete personality tests that assessed their levels of neuroticism (characterized by anxiety, moodiness and jealousy) and extraversion (characterized by assertiveness, energetic behavior and a preference for social interaction) or introversion (characterized by shyness and preference for one's own company). The women were also asked to disclose whether they had experienced periods of stress.
The results showed that 19 percent of women developed dementia, and that women who had the highest scores on the neuroticism tests were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as those who had lower scores. This association appeared to be strongest among participants who had experienced long periods of stress.
The researchers believe that personality may influence a woman’s risk of Alzheimer’s through its effect on behavior and how the women react to stress.