If you have a disease, what do you do? Of course, you keep your appointments with your doctors and hope for a cure, right? Well, there just may be a simpler way to fight disease, a solution that just makes perfect sense. The answer could lie within your own personality. Yes, you’ve heard this type of thing before, but believing, however, is a different story altogether.
Characteristics and Health
The differences between extroverts (socially outward and friendly) and introverts (socially withdrawn and quiet) just may be the answer to our health concerns. There are correlations between neuroticism (preference to negative thinking) and conscientiousness (being overly cautious) as well. No matter which one of these categories you relate to, they are all psychological traits that span your entire lifetime. All these factors that govern the way you act create a road map for your well-being. As well as being interesting, this can also be scary. Our health can be at the mercy of our attitude!
Just as your personality affects your social life and your job, it can either build or tear down our defense systems within.
How does this work?
We aren’t sure whether personality is affecting the immune system or if the immune system is affecting the personality. Small cells, called Cytokins, are released from immune cells and can sometimes block the effects of serotonin. As you know, a decrease in serotonin can aide in depression-like symptoms.
Kavita Vedhara, in a recent study, discovered that there definitely were connections between personality traits and immune responses. Tests were conducted with the help of 121 healthy students. These students completed personality questionnaires which gauged the three basic characteristics of personality: extroversion/ introversion, neuroticism and conscientiousness. Blood samples were also collected to monitor 19 different genes of inflammatory immune response. Genes that had a direct influence on viral defenses were also monitored.
A closer look at Inflammation
During the personality verses health tests, Vedhara noticed that extroverts had increased activity in pro-inflammation genes. Inflammation, or swelling, plays a huge part in the body’s defenses, despite the fact that most people see it irritating and painful. The truth is, inflammation means the body’s immune system is working correctly. Swelling speeds up the ability to fight infection! It can be concluded that extroverts have a greater ability to fight infection, with the use of inflammation. Unfortunately, this could put them at a higher risk of developing auto-immune diseases.
Before you praise yourself for being the outgoing individual and the socialite, remember that these observations are just that – observations. They are only the product of one population of test subjects. It is possible that conscientious individuals could have an increase in other areas of the immune system. Pay attention to your own attitude and how it relates to sickness. Although your body is sick, your mind may be in ultimate control!