• Researchers linked neuroticism with Parkinson's disease
  • People with high neuroticism had an 80% greater risk of developing Parkinson's disease
  • Neuroticism is linked to poor health outcomes and other diseases

People who have a neurotic personality trait are more likely to develop Parkinson's disease, a new study has found.

For their study, published in Movement Disorders, researchers looked at the data from the U.K. Biobank, which collected information from 490,000 people for over 12 years. The participants completed a neuroticism scale.

Among the participants, 1,142 developed Parkinson's disease. Those who were in the "top quartile" of neuroticism had as much as 80% higher risk of developing Parkinson's than those who had lower scores, Florida State University (FSU) College of Medicine said in a news release.

"The association remained significant after accounting for age, sex, smoking, physical activity, anxiety, and depressed mood, and after excluding cases that occurred within the first 5 years of follow‐up," the researchers noted. "The associations were similar for women and men and across levels of socioeconomic status."

The data showed that higher neuroticism is "consistently" associated with a higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease.

"Some clinicians think that the anxiety and depression is just the result of Parkinson's," the study lead, Antonio Terracciano, said in the news release. "However, our findings suggest that some emotional vulnerability is present early in life, years before the development of Parkinson's disease."

Neuroticism and Parkinson's disease

Neuroticism is defined differently by different psychologists, Psychology Today said, but it generally reflects a tendency toward more negative emotions. For instance, the tests to assess a person's neuroticism rate people's tendency toward getting easily irritated, having frequent mood swings and worrying about things.

Neuroticism has been linked to Alzheimer's disease and mood disorders, the researchers said. But not many have looked at its relationship with Parkinson's disease, a degenerative brain disorder that begins gradually and worsens over time.

The latest study is significant as it helps the researchers' understanding of the disease, which is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's, according to FSU. Its symptoms include shaking and stiffness of the limbs and trunk. It may, over time, lead to difficulties in walking and talking, the National Institutes of Aging said.

Effects of neuroticism

Calling the evidence "convincing," Terracciano noted that the findings give a better understanding of the risk factors for Parkinson's disease. It also shows the possible effects of neuroticism.

For instance, high neuroticism has been associated with risks of mental illness and worse outcomes when it comes to health and "relationship satisfaction," Psychology Today noted. It has also been linked to other diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Pictured: Representational image. Pixabay