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Generalized Anxiety or a Type-A Personality?

What some suspect may be a generalized anxiety disorder may fall more into the category of a type-A personality. Either categorization can yield some strengths and some weaknesses. Anxiety may be an evolved trait that helped early humans survive in a very dangerous world. Now that much of our world is less dangerous, it can also be maladaptive. Type-A personalities may worry about fewer things but obsess about those things more often.

Type-A personalities can do very well in the world, especially when measured against traditional financial and accomplishment measures of success. It would be difficult to argue that ex-Ohio State football coach and arguably one of the best college coaches of the time, Urban Myer, isn’t type-A. Many historical geniuses had an unrelenting obsession toward their few interests. For those like Urban Myer, we have seen the downsides that can go along with the incredibly high standards and unyielding work ethic. Urban has taken a break to spend missed time with his family. Urban has left coaching to work on resolving health problems. Perhaps it was the right choice for Myer to recently return to coaching as an NFL head coach, but the call to return to an intense environment can be too much for type-A personalities to ignore for long. Some people are meant to work in an E.R. We need those people. Many with type-A personalities may achieve great satisfaction from success. Some people with an unhealthy degree of independence developed it as a trauma response. The downside can be a near inability to handle failure. The toll on personal lives and the lives of loved ones can also be difficult.

I believe the world needs all kinds of personality types. Someone needs to run the E.R. Someone needs to coach the high-profile football team. Someone needs to be able to stay relaxed under crisis as an emergency worker or crisis counselor. For the type-A personalities, learning coping skills and just trying to tone down the volume a bit may be the solution. Some type-B personalities may need someone to motivate them and may struggle with too much independence. A generalized anxiety disorder may be more treatable, and certainly, type-A personalities and anxious individuals have common and overlapping traits. The two may co-occur. Whether anxiety or type-A traits, the good news is that many of the coping mechanisms are the same or similar. Anxiety therapy can help with type-A behaviors as well.

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