Introverts and Stress: Are They More Vulnerable?

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH


Introverts and Stress

Extroverts compared to introverts and stress management stylesWhether introverts or extroverts are more stress prone is a question that has warranted studies by prestigious professionals globally. The basic findings concurred that introverts are more prone to stress than extroverts. Here we explore this connection between introverts and stress.

Did you know that almost 74% of the world falls under the extrovert classification, and only around 26% are in fact introverts? Let?s examine the differences and how each one relates to stress differently.

What are Introverts?

Introverts are known in general as loners. They have been labeled socially awkward, and they are not what many would describe as a ?people person?. While they may not be infectiously happy, they are normally very smart and creative.

Introverts often feel as if they are misunderstood and they have difficulty feeling as if they fit in. This personality type has a hard time speaking up. This is not because they are shy. They are not one to want to be in a leadership role. These are people who society would deem a negative personality type, but the truth is they simply prefer to be alone.

They are very territorial and they value their privacy deeply. Though they may not seem outwardly over ambitious, they do fear failure. These are people who would rather write than to speak and they always like to be prepared.

Introverts are just reserved people who do not have a lot to say and don?t like being in a group. Since they do not have a lot to say, it has left much of society to draw their own conclusions which are often misguided and false.

What are Extroverts?

Extroverts on the other hand are normally outgoing individuals who have no problem speaking their mind. They make excellent group speakers and leaders. The extrovert actually gains energy when he or she is around other people. When they are alone their spunk tends to fade and they can very easily become bored. These individuals think and speak at the same time, and they are very social. These personality types make up the world as we know it.

How Are Extroverts, Introverts and Stress Related?

If an extrovert has a problem they have no problem talking about it. They share to what many feel is almost a fault. Introverts on the other hand are not the type of individuals who would want to impose on another and they often stuff or bottle their emotions and troubles inside. Often these troubles build and they end up coming out much later. One sad thing that stems from this is an inability to trust like that of the extrovert.

Introverts and Extroverts Can Be Vulnerable to Stress in Their Own Ways

One thing is clear, the reaction between introverts and stress is unpredictable, but most times withdrawal is the outcome. They do handle stress rather uniquely, each in his, or her, own usually quiet way. It is almost always that the extrovert will act out according to his or her stress level.

Another factor that contributes to the stress factor of introverts is the western culture?s love of the extrovert personality type. This almost puts pressure on the introvert to try to adapt more extrovert characteristics in order to be successful. The way they are misunderstood and overlooked can be very stressful and even lead to depression or low self-esteem.

Introverts and stress reading a bookExtroverts have a stronger inhibitory neural processing instinct than extroverts. Higher brain activities naturally mean stronger stress reactions. With the introvert having such a high level of arousal they are almost always walking the stress line. Each handles stress differently with neither way being right or wrong. This is all a part of the beauty that makes up the people in our lives.

Since introverts keep things to themselves, they may become overwhelmed and anxious due to their inability to share personal burdens. Chronic stress causes dysregulation among the body?s own defense mechanism, called the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) system. Higher levels of stress demand more of the hormone cortisol, which is supplied by the adrenal glands. People that suffer from adrenal fatigue are unable to meet cortisol demands, beginning the cascading upset to the body?s natural hormonal response to stress. It is important to realize personality traits within ourselves so we can properly deal with stressors that can threaten our health and AFS recovery.

? Copyright 2013 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


Introverts and stress




2 Comments

  • Caleb says:

    Hi Dr. Lam. The discussion of intro vs extraverts seems rather black and white. I feel like I’m somewhere in the middle. Sometimes I feel social and other times I do not. Where would I fall on the stress vulnerability spectrum?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      The discussion is rather general. When a person is more inward oriented, their outlet for stress relieve tend to be limited relative to extrovert. Most people are in the middle, so you are in a good place. I am not aware of any studies specific for those like you.

      Dr Lam