Health Medical

Meta study says high blood pressure can cause neuroticism

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HQ Team

November 23, 2022: High diastolic blood pressure is likely to cause neuroticism, according to a large-scale genetic study recently published in the journal General Psychiatry.

The current study explored the genetic causal relationships between blood pressure and anxiety, depressive symptoms, neuroticism and subjective well-being. Earlier research has already shown blood pressure as a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Increased blood pressure can also appear in some psychological states, such as anxiety and neuroticism. Neuroticism is viewed as a key causative factor for anxiety and mood disorders.

The authors of the new study examined the association between blood pressure and certain personality traits using a technique called Mendelian randomization.

Datasets from previous studies were used. Using blood samples genes were extracted. The data was mainly drawn from Caucasian population.

The researchers monitored four main factors of blood pressure  — systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, pulse pressure, and high blood pressure. They also examined four psychological states — anxiety, depressive symptoms, neuroticism, and subjective well-being.

Their analysis showed that diastolic blood pressure had “significant causal effects” on neuroticism but not on anxiety, depressive symptoms, or subjective well-being. Other blood pressure traits did not have any effect on the mental well being.

Research limitations included a narrow database of people with European ancestry and also pleiotropy. In pleiotropy one gene can affect both diastolic blood pressure and neuroticism, which could make the link pretty strong.

Neuroticism is a personality trait characterised as being prone to experiencing negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, distress, dissatisfaction, depression, anger and guilt

The authors of the study explained: “Individuals with neuroticism can be sensitive to the criticism of others, are often self-critical and easily develop anxiety, anger, worry, hostility, self-consciousness and depression.

“Neuroticism is viewed as a key causative factor for anxiety and mood disorders. Individuals with neuroticism more frequently experience high mental stress, which can lead to elevated (blood pressure) and cardiovascular diseases.

“Appropriate surveillance and control of blood pressure can be beneficial for the reduction of neuroticism, neuroticism-inducing mood disorders and cardiovascular diseases.”

More research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms linking blood pressure and psychological states, but the study adds a new twist to that association.

Earlier research has shown that neuroticism and other mental disturbances can negatively impact overall health.

Many earlier studies, one in 2007, another in 2013, and a meta-analysis found that higher levels of neuroticism can add to the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Experts are of the opinion that much more research is needed to establish whether improved stress levels and neuroticism can improve health outcomes.

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