Does anxiety change your personality? (5 ways)

This blog post aims to answer the question, “Does anxiety change your personality?” and explore the concepts of personality, personality change and the effects of anxiety, especially on personality to help understand the answer. 

Does anxiety change your personality?

Yes, anxiety can change your personality. Anxiety can change a person’s personality in the following 5 ways –

  • Nervousness, panic, and fear.
  • Anxiety disorder.
  • Stress.
  • Medication.
  • Good and necessary anxiety. 

These 5 ways anxiety can change your personality will be discussed in further detail below after taking an in-depth look at personality and personality change. 

What is personality change?

Personality characteristics are broad categories of individual variations that relate to how we interact with our social environments. They support our ability to think, behave, and feel consistently in a variety of contexts and across time.

Early childhood temperament variations, which are partially genetically driven and influence exposure to social situations, are assumed to be the source of adult personality characteristics. There are five personality dimensions in all.

The five factors are: “extraversion or positive emotionality (incorporating traits such as sociability, energy, shyness and dominance/subordination); neuroticism or negative emotionality (including lower‐order traits such as proneness to anxiety, irritability, sadness, insecurity and guilt); conscientiousness (factors such as reliability, carefulness, persistence and self‐control); agreeableness (cooperativeness, consideration, generosity, kindness and politeness); and openness to experience (imaginativeness, insight and aesthetic sensitivity)”. 

Individuals differ in all of these characteristics, therefore each individual is regarded to have a unique set of traits. Personality factors influence the quality of social and familial connections, marital status and satisfaction, career choices, political opinions, and crime with moderate consistency.

Your personality might evolve during the course of your life. It’s natural to have mood swings from time to time. Unusual personality changes, on the other hand, might be an indication of a physical or mental problem.

A personality shift can manifest itself in a number of ways –

  • A personality shift is indicated by behaviour that differs from how you would normally behave in the same situation.
  • A person’s mood, aggression, or euphoria are abnormally moody, aggressive, or euphoric in comparison to their regular behaviour in comparable conditions, indicating a personality shift.

Examples of personality change –

  • Being unconcerned in conditions that would typically induce anxiety or worry.
  • Being glad when hearing bad news.

What can cause a sudden personality change?

While a gradual shift in personality isn’t uncommon, an accident or sickness might create an abrupt transformation.

A generally joyful individual might become depressed as a result of grief, unpleasant news, or disappointment. After hearing the sad news, a person’s mood might be affected for weeks or months.

Some people have had bizarre or aberrant behaviour for years, which might be caused by disease or injury. After being exposed to a stressful scenario or seeing an unpleasant incident, a person’s demeanour may shift.

These behavioural changes may be caused by a mental health condition, such as –

  • Anxiety – When a person feels apprehensive or unpleasant about a situation, they are said to be anxious. It’s natural to feel anxious from time to time, but when it happens without warning, it might be an indication of generalised anxiety disorder.
  • Panic attacks – Panic episodes are intense bouts of dread. Fear might appear to be illogical at times. A person suffering a panic attack while seeing an elevator or speaking in public is an example of such a circumstance.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder – This mental health disease, also known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is characterised by acute terror, flashbacks, and, in some cases, hallucinations. Traumatic memories, such as a terrorist attack or a vehicle accident, might cause PTSD.
  • Bipolar disorder – Bipolar disorder is characterised by mood swings that are intense. Mood swings may range from exhilaration to severe sadness, and they might modify how a person reacts to specific encounters or events, depending on their mood.
  • Schizophrenia – Schizophrenia makes it difficult to think clearly, interpret circumstances efficiently, behave appropriately in social situations, and discern what is genuine from what isn’t.

Strange or odd behaviour might be caused by medical problems that cause hormone levels to fluctuate. These conditions include:

  • menopause
  • premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • andropause (male menopause)
  • hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism (an overactive or underactive thyroid gland, respectively)

Medical emergencies that can cause strange or unusual behaviour include:

  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • dehydration
  • malnutrition

What are these 5 ways anxiety can change your personality?

Nervousness, panic, and fear.

Anxiety disorders are a category of mental illness. It’s difficult to get through the day when you’re anxious. Nervousness, panic, and terror are common symptoms, as are perspiration and a racing heart. Medication and cognitive behavioural therapy are two options for treatment.

If you have an anxiety condition, you may experience fear and dread in response to particular items and circumstances. You can also notice physical symptoms of anxiety, such as a racing heart or sweating.

Anxiety disorder.

An anxiety disorder, on the other hand, goes beyond the normal worry and fear you may experience from time to time. When a person has an anxiety condition, he or she –

  • Anxiety makes it difficult for you to function.
  • When something provokes your emotions, you frequently overreact.
  • You have little control over how you react to things.

Anxiety problems may make getting through the day challenging. Anxiety problems can be treated successfully using a variety of methods.

An individual’s chance of acquiring anxiety disorders can be increased by a combination of hereditary and environmental variables. If you have or have had any of the following, you may be at a higher risk –

  • Certain personality qualities, such as shyness or behavioural inhibition – feeling uneasy around new people, circumstances, or places and avoiding them.
  • Early childhood or adulthood stressors or tragic events
  • Anxiety or other mental health disorders run in the family.
  • Thyroid issues and cardiac arrhythmias are two examples of bodily ailments (unusual heart rhythms).

Women are more likely than males to suffer from anxiety disorders. Researchers are still trying to figure out why this happens. It’s possible that it’s caused by women’s hormones, particularly those that change during the month. 

The hormone testosterone may also play a role – males have more of it, and it has been shown to reduce anxiety. It’s also conceivable that because women are less inclined to seek help, their anxiety may worsen.

Anxiety disorders can in a variety of forms, including –

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
  • Panic disorder.
  • Phobias.
  • Separation anxiety.

Anxiety disorders have characteristics of other mental health issues. Post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder are two of them.

Anxiety disorders are frequently multifactorial, meaning that they are caused by a combination of circumstances rather than a single cause. 

Although biological and genetic factors are thought to have a role in anxiety disorders, mental health practitioners feel that it is also important to look at how a person learns to interact with the environment in the first place to unearth other contributing variables.

For example, if someone is taught (directly or indirectly) that worry tends to help them to generate good outcomes or that it is the “default” sensation to experience, anxiety may quickly become ingrained in their personality. 

It will have an impact on how people approach employment, relationships, and other elements of their lives as a result. Anxiety may be regarded of as a personality trait or even a personality style in this sense. 

On the other hand, research has shown that certain personality qualities (such as social inhibition, emotional instability, and introversion) might increase the risk of developing an anxiety disorder.

Stress.

Anxiety may affect things on its own. Anxiety may impact your brain, even if you’re utilising natural approaches to support your mental health.

Stress and worry can cause stress hormones like cortisol to be released from various sections of our brain, such as the hypothalamus, adrenal cortex, and pituitary gland. 

These hormones have a significant impact on the body. Stress may cause the body to break down and even destroy brain cells if left untreated for lengthy periods of time.

Increased cortisol levels can cause the amygdala, the primary region of our brain that governs and processes emotions like fear, to grow in size over time. It also increases the flight or fight response, which is considerably easier to activate with a bigger amygdala.

Other regions of the brain, such as memory, can be affected by stress. We can clearly observe personality changes without our memories. Because memory and experience are such a crucial part of who we are, having some of them erased by cortisol will have a significant influence on how we feel about the world.

Medication.

Once a physical illness is addressed, a personality change induced by it may go away. However, in certain circumstances, it will not go away even if the underlying illness is treated.

Depending on the reason, your disease may be treated independently with mood-altering drugs. If you have a hormonal imbalance, your personality change may go away after you start taking the prescribed hormone-balancing drugs. 

Progesterone injections, replacement oestrogen, and low-dose birth control tablets are all regularly recommended drugs. 

A mix of mood-altering drugs and counselling may be used to address mental health issues. Medications are commonly used to treat anxiety disorders, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar illness.

Good and necessary anxiety. 

It’s natural to have some anxiousness. If you have to deal with an issue at work, go to an interview, take an exam, or make a major choice, you may feel anxious or tense. Anxiety, on the other hand, can be good.

Anxiety, for example, aids us in recognising harmful circumstances and focusing our attention, allowing us to remain safe.

Conclusion – 

This blog post aimed to answer the question, “Does anxiety change your personality?” and reviewed the concepts of personality, personality change and the effects of anxiety, especially on personality to help determine if anxiety can change your personality. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you may have.

References –

Meek, W. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Personality Style. (2020, September 29). Retrieved from  https://www.verywellmind.com/anxiety-and-personality-style-1392978#:~:text=When%20under%20stress%2C%20type%20A,if%20their%20anxiety%20goes%20unchecked.

Kahn, A. Everything You Want to Know About Personality Change. (2019, December 4). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/behavior-unusual-or-strange

Anxiety And Personality Changes. MedicineNet. (2020, August 5). Retrieved from  https://www.medicinenet.com/anxiety_and_personality_changes/multisymptoms.htm

Conditions That Can Change Your Personality. WebMD. 2021, November 18). Retrieved from  https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/ss/slideshow-conditions-change-personality

Can generalized anxiety disorder change your personality? Quora. (n.d.). Retrieved from  https://www.quora.com/Can-generalized-anxiety-disorder-change-your-personality

How did social anxiety change your personality? Quora. (n.d.). Retrieved from  https://www.quora.com/How-did-social-anxiety-change-your-personality

Lesser, B. An Adult’s Guide to Coping with Abrupt Personality Changes. (2021, March 6). Retrieved from  https://dualdiagnosis.org/mental-disorders-caused-addiction/sudden-personality-changes-in-adults/

Personality Change.  Healthgrades Editorial Staff. (2021, January 7). Retrieved from  https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/mental-health-and-behavior/personality-change

PERSONALITY CHANGES. Medicover Hospitals. (2021, March 27). Retrieved from  https://www.medicoverhospitals.in/symptoms/personality-changes

Anxiety Disorders. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved from  https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9536-anxiety-disorders

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