The “D” in type D personality stands for distressed. According to a 2005 study, the type D personality has a tendency to experience strong, negative responses and social inhibition at the same time.

To put it another way, people with a type D personality experience a high degree of emotional distress while suppressing their feelings at the same time.

According to Harvard University, people with a type D personality are worried pessimists who are uncomfortable with other people, so they can’t get relief from emotional closeness. However, mental health treatment can can enhance quality of life for people with type D traits.

Keep reading to learn more about type D personality traits and the physical and mental health concerns associated with these traits.

People with high levels of the following two personality traits are classified as having a type D personality:

  1. They experience the world in a negative way and have a tendency to be consumed with negative emotions.
  2. They get high scores on social inhibition (avoidance of social interaction) and have a tendency to not express these emotions.

According to a 2010 review, people with a type D personality have a potential risk for general psychological distress that’s known to affect both mental and physical health.

This risk is associated with work- and health-related problems in otherwise healthy individuals. For example, people with a type D personality experience:

  • more symptoms of distress, anxiety, and depression
  • more somatic complaints (such as pain and fatigue) and an appreciably lower health status

Type D personality and the heart

Often, medical professionals can predict potential health problems based on behavior. For example, when assessing someone who uses tobacco products heavily, a medical professional can predict a higher-than-normal risk for lung cancer and COPD.

According to a 2008 study, along with depressive symptoms, type D personality can be an independent predictor of chronic heart failure.

Why type D personalities have lower health status

According to that 2008 study, people with a type D personality may have generally poor physical health because they tend to not practice health-related self-care behaviors, such as:

  • eating a balanced diet
  • getting regular medical checkups
  • avoiding tobacco products
  • spending time outdoors

According to a 2006 study, when compared with people who don’t have a type D personality, those with type D traits:

  • identify their workplace as more stressful
  • display a lower sense of personal accomplishment
  • experience high levels of burnout

People with a type D personality may also be more likely to:

Psychiatric treatment can enhance quality of life for people with a type D personality by:

If you have a type D personality, it may feel difficult to establish rapport with a therapist at first. Remember, it’s OK to try a different therapist and therapeutic approach until you find what works for you.

People with type D (distressed) personality traits experience high degrees of emotional distress. At the same time, they suppress their feelings. This can result in psychological (anxiety and depression) and physical (pain and fatigue) discomfort.

Psychiatric treatment can help people with a type D personality manage these traits and find new, healthy coping mechanisms.