Go Ahead and Worry: Being an Anxious Person Might Help You Live Longer
You’ve downloaded every app to help tame your anxiety… only to start worrying about a sudden phone addiction. Your downward spirals over whether your boss hates you or you forgot to unplug your curling iron cycle through your brain every five to six minutes. If this sounds familiar, you might be an anxious person. (But we bet you already knew that!) Fortunately, there’s great news for the worrywarts out there — science says all that stress might just have a major impact on your health… in a good way.
According to a new study from the University of Edinburgh and University College London, people who are “high in neuroticism” are more likely to live longer. It might seem strange — surely all that worrying must take a toll on mental and physical health? — but researchers discovered one not so surprising fact about worrywarts. It turns out they’re really, really vigilant about their health.
The researchers examined data from the UK Biobank, which holds health information on more than 500,000 people, ages 37-73 years old. They specifically looked at people who had self-rated their health as “fair” or “poor” and also had been identified as “highly neurotic.” They found that these individuals were more likely to have a lower risk of mortality. The researchers hypothesized that all the extra worrying meant neurotic folks were more likely to think their health was poor, causing them to seek more facetime with doctors; the increased use of health services could have resulted in early diagnosis and treatment of serious diseases. Meanwhile, the non-neurotic patients were less likely to seek treatment for symptoms, which would ultimately have serious health consequences later.
While more research is needed to confirm the exact reasons why neuroticism keeps people healthy, one thing is certain. Overthinkers of the world can count on a few extra years to keep on overthinking!
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