Are you Type D? The distressed personality type is often ‘overlooked’

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You've heard of the Type A personality, but what are the characteristics of a Type D individual? – Jul 25, 2018

Type As are organized and Type Bs go with the flow, but experts say there’s a whole other category — Type Ds — who are often distressed.

In a recent post for Psychology Today, author and professor emerita Susan Krauss Whitbourne at the University of Massachusetts Amherst wrote the personality type is often overlooked.

Speaking with Global News, Whitbourne says people in this category have a risk of developing cardiovascular disease because of their anxiety, depression and tendency to suppress negative emotions.

“We’re so much more aware of the Type A personality with its hard-driving competitiveness and impatience, the Type D is more likely to be overlooked. Yet the health risks are just as great, if not even more so, due to the fact that these are individuals who have already experienced cardiac health issues.”

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What makes you Type D?

Whitbourne says Type D personalities are often lonely and traumatized, and this impacts their mental health. But this doesn’t mean they are necessarily depressed — people with this personality type may also suppress how they actually feel. And while we’re clear on what Type A and Type B is like, she adds Type C personalities are concerned with being accurate. 

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The term Type D was first coined in the ’90s by Belgian psychologist Johann Denollet, and Whitbourne says research continues to happen.

“It seems rather specific to a people with heart risk disease, and although a significant proportion of the population have diagnoses of cardiovascular disease, the emotional suppression associated with the type makes it more likely to be ignored. Type As have a tendency to be ‘in your face,’ but the Type Ds will just as likely retreat into themselves and not draw attention to their problems.”

Psychologist Dr. Jillian Roberts of Victoria, B.C. tells Global News people in this category are also negative, gloomy, socially inhibited and lack confidence.

“A glass half-empty type,” she says. ” It is simply not healthy to go through life hard-wired for negativity. These negative traits are not reactive or in response to some kind of trauma or stress. They are not fleeting or temporary. These traits are long-standing, core features of someone’s personality and way of being in the world.”

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She says people who are Type D also have a very easy time saying “no.”

“These people see everything through a negative lens. They lack spontaneity and creativity.”

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If you fall in this category

Both experts agree people with Type D personalities who recognize these traits should seek help and not let their thoughts consume them. If you know somebody who could be Type D, try to understand where they are coming from.

“Understanding someone’s personality help you to know how to best interact with them. You can be more empathetic. It is easier to not take it personally, for example, if you present an idea to someone who then simply shoots it down out of a negativistic reflex,” Roberts says.

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“If you know and love someone who has a Type D personality, gently suggest that they get help from a trained mental health provider. It is no fun living life this way or being a companion on someone’s Type D journey.”