Researchers at the University of Iowa have been looking into the links between neuroticism, depression and the experience of physical health problems. Previous research has shown that neurotic people - who often feel irritable, sad, anxious or fearful - are more likely to overestimate their aches and pains. The researchers studied 109 women who filled out surveys at the start of the study to assess their levels of neuroticism and depression. Every day, for three weeks, they reported whether they felt 15 common physical symptoms including aches and pains, gastrointestinal problems and coughs and colds. On the 22nd day the participants were asked to remember how often they had experienced each physical symptom in the last three weeks. The participants who were depressed at the start of the study were more likely to give an exaggerated account of their symptoms whereas those who were neurotic - but not depressed - were not, leading the researchers to conclude that it is depression not neurosis which makes people overestimate their aches and pains.
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