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Neurotic men have shorter lives

Relaxation is good for your health.

Ok, we know this. But now there’s research. Every time you worry, feel anxious or overreact (as you do) you could be shortening your life. Instead, like good wine, try mellowing with age and reacting to things with more patience. This could increase your life expectancy ... good for your life and good for your life insurance.

A study of over 1,600 men, aged 43 to 91, was conducted to examine how “neurotic” men did over time. The researchers used a personality test and defined a “neurotic personality” as someone who worries too much, feels anxiety or depression and reacts to stress negatively. The researchers followed the men for 12 years. They compared men who were either highly neurotic or who increased in neuroticism over time to men who were mildly neurotic or decreased in neuroticism over time. At the end of the study only 50% of the men with high or increasing neuroticism were alive compared to 75-85% of the other group. Even a small increase in neuroticism over the course of the study led to a 40% increase in death compared to a stable person.

Only problem is that the data doesn’t tell us ‘why’ this is so. There are a couple of theories though... the first being stress. Neurotic people are likely to have more stress hormones in their bodies, causing all sorts of problems and complications. The other is that the lack of a ‘positive outlook’ may impact your mortality.

Whatever the case, if you feel your level of neurosis increasing as you age, consider learning some techniques for stress reduction and relaxation to increase your longevity. Start with breathing techniques, yoga or simple meditation.

Source: Psychological Science 5 May 2008

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