Questions & Answers: What is Type D personality?

Questions & Answers

What is Type D personality?

Q. What is Type D personality?

A. Chronic anger and hostility, or any acute stress, can kick the legs out from under the table of cardiovascular health. People who fall into a sour mood after a heart attack fare worse. Chronic mental strain — family burdens, work or money troubles — can also strain the heart. Poor social conditions, it turns out, are as risky for the heart as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Although none of us totally escapes feeling burdened, stressed, sour, or angry, it has been difficult to find the people most at risk. But there is some additional evidence about that. Since the early 1990s, the Belgian psychologist Johan Denollet has been studying a set of personality traits known as the Type D ("distressed") personality. Type D individuals suffer from a high degree of emotional distress, but they consciously suppress their feelings. These worried pessimists are uncomfortable with other people and so don't get the relief that emotional closeness might bring. Studies show that once they develop coronary heart disease (CHD), they are at greater risk of dying, and when they survive often have a poorer quality of life.

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