Neuroticism has high cost for society

By Tom Nordlie • Published: January 20th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Ever hear of neuroticism?

No, it’s not an art movement.

Nor is it the same thing as “neurosis” or “neurotic,” though all three are related.

Neuroticism is a personality trait.

It’s the tendency to become upset by events or circumstances.

People who are deeply bothered by everyday frustrations show a high degree of neuroticism.

And now it seems high neuroticism comes at a high price to society.

A study in the Netherlands showed that for every one-million residents, expenses related to neuroticism totaled one-point-four-billion dollars.

The study appeared in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

Researchers reviewed data from a previous Dutch mental health survey.

Patients with high scores for neuroticism got a closer look.

For them, researchers examined survey material on doctors’ visits and other medical care.

Finally, researchers developed cost estimates for the care, and for things like time lost from work and travel expenses to see doctors.

Altogether, those factors totaled about twelve-thousand dollars per person per year, for the five percent of the population hardest-hit by neuroticism.

People with lesser degrees of neuroticism cost society less money per person, but there are more of them.

A lot of people bear those expenses, including insurers, employers and the individual patients.

Of course, health care cost estimates from the Netherlands aren’t necessarily applicable to the U-S.

But neuroticism must cost something here.

The researchers made an interesting proposal. They say more attention should be paid to treating neuroticism, because it may give rise to other mental health issues.

That idea could pay off scientifically.

And, if the idea proves correct, maybe it will pay off financially as well.