Add neurotic personality traits to the list of negative outcomes following poor control of blood pressure.

Recent research suggests that high blood pressure is more likely to cause neurotic behaviors.

Researchers from China find that diastolic blood pressure in particular—which is the lower of the two blood pressure readings—increases neurotic personality traits. According to the team, managing blood pressure levels can help lower neurotic behaviors, anxiety, and cardiovascular diseases.

Neuroticism is technically a personality trait and people who are neurotic are prone to experiencing negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, high mental stress, guilt, dissatisfaction, anger, and depression. 

Blood pressure is a vital sign of blood circulating in the body. The ability of blood pressure to be inherited typically ranges from 30 percent to 60 percent.

When the systolic blood pressure reads above 140 mmHg and the diastolic blood pressure reads above 90 mmHg on two straight days, the body is said to be in a state of hypertension.

As a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease, elevated blood pressure can appear in some psychological states, including anxiety and neuroticism.

The Chinese researchers arrived at their findings after examining the relationship between a particular risk factor—blood pressure—and certain personality traits using techniques called Mendelian randomization. 

They drew on a total of eight large-scale study datasets containing genetic information collected from blood samples donated by people of predominantly European ancestry.

The researchers applied Mendelian randomization to the four traits of blood pressure: systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, pulse pressure, and hypertension. They then studied the link between these traits and the four psychological states: anxiety, depression, neuroticism, and self-reported well-being.

The results as published in the journal General Psychiatry showed that hypertension and diastolic blood pressure had “significant causal effects” on neuroticism. 

Upon adjusting for multiple tests, they found only diastolic blood pressure to be significantly linked to neuroticism. However, the team found no direct association between the other blood pressure traits and other psychological states such as anxiety, depressive symptoms, or subjective well-being.

This is the first study to establish a link between diastolic blood pressure and neuroticism.

Although, the researchers do express some limitations to their study. The first was that their findings may not be generalized beyond people of European ancestry. And second, they couldn’t rule out pleiotropy (where a single gene can influence several traits).

Yet they say that their findings can be explained by the connection between the brain and the heart, which may in turn boost the development of personality traits. In addition to that, a neurotic person tends to experience high mental stress capable of raising blood pressure and increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

The study authors, therefore, conclude that proper management of blood pressure may lower neuroticism, neuroticism-inducing mood disorders, as well as cardiovascular diseases.

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