What Is It Like to Have a Type A Personality?

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH


People with a Type A, competitive personalityDid you know that the type of personality you have can significantly determine your overall health? Research shows that type A personality individuals with poor self-control are more vulnerable to stress-related health issues. People with this type of personality possess a specific set of behavior which raises their chances of developing health problems which in turn increase the chances of having adrenal fatigue. Read on to know if you fall under this category and how to overcome the related health problems.

What Is Type A Personality?

This personality is characterized by a set of behavioral responses. People with this type of persona are often viewed as extremely competitive, outperforming and self-critical.

Some of the characteristics of type A behavior include:

  • Work-obsession
  • Impatience
  • Perfectionism
  • Anxious
  • Extremely hard working beyond the requirement
  • Having constant and great urgency of completing the task

Being ambitious, hard-driving and always having an urge of completing tasks faster, type A personality individuals are often stressed out. Consistently excessive workload with tight deadlines at the workplace can be a contributing factor to type A behavior. Individuals with type A behavior are impatient; often interrupt others in between talks and get easily frustrated which they might not express openly. Therefore, they tend to be overly aggressive. Some of the physical characteristics of type A personality individuals include dark under eye circles, teeth grinding or tongue clicking and facial sweating (on the upper lip or forehead).

These extremely hardworking individuals are found to have higher promotions and successful career owing to their ability to deal with excessive stress. However, the dark side is that type A behavior individuals with poor self-control are at high risk of developing stress-related health issues which can greatly impact their well-being.

Type A Vs Type B Personality

In comparison to type A behavior, Type B personality individuals tend to have a healthier life. This is because type B individuals are more relaxed. They are found to be more creative, work with patience, enjoy achievements and do not get stressed when unable to achieve. Unlike type A behavior, type B individuals have a relaxed attitude and are less anxious thus making them more tolerant of others. On the other hand, type A individuals are more concerned about completing the task rather than actually enjoying the work. They are easily stressed when unable to achieve. Unfortunately, this makes such individuals anxious, impatient, and aggressive at the workplace without them actually realizing it.

Type A behavior individuals do not have a relaxed attitude. The constant urge for early task completion can make things more stressful leading to irritability, and anxiety. Such individuals are more likely to respond insolently to colleagues under the pressure of high stress which can, unfortunately, end up in isolation at the workplace. Further, spending extra hours at the workplace for task completion can affect their interpersonal relationship leading to social isolation and depression. Studies show that when compared to type B personality, the risk of developing heart disease is twice in type A individuals.

Type A Personality and Adrenal Fatigue

Competitive personality linked to heart diseaseAlways being in a rush to complete work, type A personality individuals are mostly in a state of constant elevated stress and anxiety throughout their lives. This increases their risk of developing stress-related health problems. Your body is naturally equipped with NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response System for dealing with stress. It is a delicate network of various organs and six circuits including the hormonal circuit which functions in a unison. During stressful situations, the NEM signals your adrenals for secreting anti-stress hormone cortisol.

However, constant stress over a long period of time can exert an excess load on your adrenal glands for secretion of more cortisol. This can leave your adrenals overburdened and no longer able to secrete adequate cortisol. As a result, the natural-stress fighting ability of your body is reduced which can lead to adrenal fatigue.

Fatigue from stressful life can be usual. However, when you frequently experience extreme fatigue along with symptoms of anxiety, difficulty in waking up, insomnia, brain fog, low energy levels, stubborn weight gain, difficulty in concentration, constipation, craving for salty and fatty food then chances are high that you could be dealing with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS). Type A personality individuals with their characteristic workaholic nature mostly lead an extremely stressful life increasing their chances of developing adrenal fatigue. Further, these individuals live under constant stress as they tend to have a constant urgency of completing the task.

Constant stress has a direct impact on the hormonal circuit of the NEM. The hormonal circuit includes the thyroid, adrenal glands, and testes/ovaries. It is responsible for the regulation of thyroid function, body temperature and stress hormones (including cortisol). Any imbalance in this circuit can lead to fatigue, reduced libido, infertility, miscarriage, sluggish thyroid, hair loss, and weight gain. In type A personality individuals, consistent stress exerts an additional load on the adrenal glands for secretion of the anti-stress hormone cortisol. This can cause the adrenals to dysfunction leading to imbalanced cortisol levels.

How Can Type A Behavior Impact Your Health?

Cortisol imbalance is prevalent in type A personality individuals as they often lead a stressful life making them vulnerable to various health issues. Imbalanced cortisol level can cause devastating effects on the body. Cortisol plays multiple crucial roles in your body including dealing with stress, balance hormones, regulate inflammation, raise blood sugar level, and increase blood pressure. It also helps regulate mood, behavior, and libido, physical activities, sleeping patterns, circulation, and digestion. Any disturbance in cortisol level can lead to a series of health problems including insomnia, muscle weakness, salt craving, irritability, elevated blood pressure, constant tiredness, and anxiety.

Cortisol level is high during the morning stimulating your body to wake up. Its level gradually goes down at night preparing your body to sleep. Healthy cortisol level ensures you have a restorative sleep. However, constant stress can cause fluctuations in the level of this hormone which causes a direct impact on your sleeping cycles. Sleep disruptions exert stress on your body making you feel fatigued throughout the day.

Individuals with type A behavior are constantly exposed to stress, anxiety, and anger. This raises the level of adrenaline in the body making them extremely vulnerable to high blood pressure, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome. Type A individuals being overly ambitious often neglect inter-personal relationship with loved ones. Their impatient and aggressive personality makes them hostile which can cause social isolation. This might ultimately lead to social anxiety, loneliness, helplessness, and depression.

Dealing With Type A Behavior

People with this personality find extreme difficulty in maintaining a healthy balance between professional and personal life. These individuals are often extremely ambitious and are known to give priority to the profession over personal life. This could lead to an estranged relationship, isolation in the workplace and social gathering which can result in loneliness, depression and various health problems.

Type A behavior individuals need to consider improving self-control and spending more quality time with family and friends. This can greatly help reduce the irresistible tendency of hard-driving in the workplace. Further, adrenal breathing exercises, yoga and mindfulness meditation prove effective tools for improving self-control, attain mental peace, fight stress, balance cortisol levels, reduce anxiety and depression in type A individuals.

Conclusion

Your overall health largely depends on the type of personality you have. Type A personality individuals are often known for being workaholic, highly ambitious, perfectionist, impatience, hard-working beyond requirement and tend to have a constant urge of completing the task at the earliest. Though such personalities are known to excel in professional work front, they tend to lead an extremely stressful life. Type A behavior individuals with poor self-control experience constant stress and anxiety throughout life making them vulnerable to various stress-related health problems including high blood pressure, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, social isolation, and depression.

Constant exposure to stress also causes cortisol imbalance which can leave a devastating effect on the health as well as raise the chances of developing adrenal fatigue. In people with type A behavior, spending more quality time with family and friends, improving self-control, practicing adrenal breathing exercises, yoga and mindfulness meditation prove significantly helpful to fight stress, attain mental peace, enhance self-control, balance cortisol levels, reduce anxiety, and depression for a healthier well-balanced life.

 
© Copyright 2015 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


Dr. Lam’s Key Question

For type A personality individuals with their characteristics workaholic nature, balancing work and personal life can be challenging. Such people should focus on enjoying the work and achievements rather than hurrying for task completion. Spending quality time with family and friends and improving self-control by practicing meditation and yoga helps relieve stress.


Type A personality

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Dear Dr. Lam
 
I am an endocrinologist from Armenia. I have found your website 2 years ago, I always read your articles and treat my patients according your advices and have great results. Thank you very much for wonderful information.
 
Thank you.