Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. Worrying about a bill, a mistake at work, or if your child will pass their math class is often inevitable. But persistent anxiety that is overwhelming and seemingly impossible to control is frequently a clinical condition that may not go away without treatment. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million people will experience an anxiety disorder in a given year. That translates into roughly 18 percent of the population. The question is: While many people will suffer from anxiety at some point in their lives, are certain personality types more prone to this condition? The evidence suggests yes.
What Is Anxiety?
According to Mayo Clinic, anxiety is an “intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations.” Anyone may experience anxiety in certain situations, but when fear or worry becomes overwhelming and difficult to control 24/7, it may be more serious. People who suffer from clinical anxiety may experience such an intense level of fear that they experience panic attacks or cannot normally function at home or work. In some cases, anxiety can be a debilitating condition.
Is a Certain Type of Person More Likely to Suffer from Anxiety?
In evaluating the types of people who have suffered from mild to extreme forms of anxiety, researchers have found that:
- Women are actually twice as likely to suffer from anxiety than men. This higher propensity for anxiety among females is a trend worldwide.
- Also, young people may be more susceptible, on the basis of studies at Oxford University suggesting that anxiety most often affects young adults below the age of 35. (But research also concludes that people of any age can experience this condition— and that anxiety is, in fact, universal and that some people may even have a genetic predisposition for anxiety disorders.)
As for traits most associated with anxiety, some show up time and again among people diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Some personality traits may even make anxiety symptoms worse…
What Personality Traits Are Prone to Anxiety?
Some personality traits are more prone to anxiety, but having these traits doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll suffer from clinical or chronic anxiety or that a mild form of the condition will progress into a severe bout of the disorder. However, researchers have noted that certain personality traits show up time and again among those people diagnosed with the condition. The following are among the five personality traits most often prone to anxiety.
Thinking is generally construed as a good thing! However, a tendency to overthink is often related to more serious anxiety. After all, people with anxiety often can’t stop thinking about their worries or fears. Someone who overthinks a situation is more apt to form an unhealthy focus on their thoughts. Obsessing about a negative situation can create a rut in the mental road that’s hard to get unstuck from. Often, overthinkers are big planners. When their plan is thwarted, it can throw them into an emotional tailspin, leading to symptoms of anxiety.
Many people with perfectionism are aware that perfection is invariably unattainable, yet they continue to give it their best effort. Perfectionism, however, is all too often associated with disappointment. Mistakes and shortcomings are facts of life. When a person becomes stressed about achieving an ideal or fears that they will fail to meet their goals, they could develop symptoms of anxiety. Wanting to be one’s best is an admirable trait, but an unwillingness to settle for less can trigger anxiety.
Resistance to Change
Change isn’t always easy, but for many people, it can be downright scary and loathsome. People who find change difficult may be more prone to experiencing anxiety. These changes can be small— a new computer program at work or a new neighbor moving in next door. Yet, changes such as these can invite a level of worry that veers out of bounds for someone who finds change hard. Big changes like the loss of a loved one or job can lead to major symptoms of anxiety for people who struggle with change.
Empathy is something most people value in another person. An empathetic individual can put themselves in someone else’s shoes; they feel intensely and are sensitive to the feelings of others. Yet, empathy can contribute to anxiety in some ways. An empathetic person suffering from anxiety may feel a heightened degree of sensitivity and strong emotional responses that can be difficult to control. When feelings like fear and worry set in, they can become so intense that the individual finds it challenging to control them.
Finally, people who tend to be introverted may suffer from clinical anxiety more than those who are extroverted. This makes sense because introverts tend to keep their thoughts and feelings inside. When they’re feeling balanced, they can easily manage their thoughts and feelings, but when they’re stressed, those bottled thoughts and emotions may find no effective release, leading to anxiety.
Anxiety Is Not Exclusive to These Personality Traits
People who have these five personality traits may be more vulnerable to anxiety, but anyone can develop the condition given the “perfect storm” of circumstances. In fact, while the above traits are those most commonly associated with anxiety development, there are others. For instance, some people found that certain anxiety disorders occur frequently in people who are extremely conscientious or are prone to irritability. People who are highly productive can develop symptoms of anxiety, especially after experiencing a break in their productivity level or if their perseverance doesn’t pay off. Researchers have also noticed that people who avoid certain situations may be more prone to experiencing anxiety. And, people who are highly imaginative can develop anxiety from visualizing worst-case scenarios associated with their worries and fears.
Anxiety Is a Treatable Condition
Like many conditions, anxiety occurs on a spectrum. Many people experience it but may be able to manage it without professional treatment. A person who experiences anxiety that lasts longer than two weeks or faces interruptions in their daily life because of their anxiety should get evaluated and treated. When left untreated, anxiety can spiral out of control. A person can become so overwhelmed by panic, worry, and fear that they cannot function. They may find it difficult to eat or leave their home. In some cases, anxiety can trigger debilitating depression.
Fortunately, even someone with a severe anxiety disorder can go on to successfully manage their anxiety and greatly improve their quality of life, thanks to advances in modern medicine and therapy. The key is to find a trusted provider that will help you develop an individualized plan of treatment that addresses the roots of your symptoms. If you or a loved one is struggling with uncontrollable fears or worries, don’t spend one more day in distress. Help is here at FHE Health.