Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Personality Type

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Is there a Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Personality Type?

You have probably heard people say they are a “Type A” personality or have “Type A” personality traits. But understanding what having this trait truly means can transform the way you manage stress, consequently having a huge affect on your overall health.

“Type A personality”, has become a commonly known term since research was carried out in the 1950s on the subject by cardiologists Ray Rosenman and Meyer Friedman which studied the characteristics of the trait. They conducted a study which showed that those with Type A personality traits were more likely to develop coronary heart disease.

chronic fatigue syndrome personality type

It’s clear that chronic fatigue syndrome can have a psychological element to the illness. Whilst I had never thought of myself as a typical hard charging Type A personality, I came to realize I had enough of the typical Type A traits to know that my personality type did in fact play a part in my chronic fatigue syndrome and that there could indeed be a chronic fatigue syndrome personality type.

The inability to know when I was pushing my body beyond its physical limits was a Type A trait I definitely recognized in myself.

What is a Type A Personality?

Type A personality traits are characterized by qualities that include:

  • Ambition
  • The need for control.
  • Urgency.
  • Impatience.
  • Constantly striving towards specific objectives in order to break new ground.
  • Competitive spirit.

3 Major characteristics of the Type A Personality

1. Competitiveness

Type A individuals are usually very self-critical and competitive in nature. They constantly drive themselves to compete and achieve set goals but find it difficult to acknowledge any sense of fulfillment for their efforts.

This trait contributes to a significant imbalance in their life as they are so heavily involved in work and career goals.

chronic fatigue syndrome personality type

2. Sense of Urgency

There is always an air of urgency around type A individuals, and they always seem to be in an endless struggle against time. In most cases, they become impatient especially regarding unproductive time and delays. As a consequence of this type of thinking they stuff their schedule full with a long list of commitments, and try to multitask to beat the clock.

chronic fatigue syndrome personality type

3. Hostility

Type A personalities easily become hostile or angry, and they often do not express these traits openly, holding feelings of frustration and anger inside. When this trait is overtly expressed, type A individuals become aggressive, sometimes displaying bullying behavior.

chronic fatigue syndrome personality type

They tend to see the flaws in others, often seemingly displaying a lack of compassion and concern for others.

Link between Type A Personality and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Is your personality type the cause of your Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Well, type A individuals are known to possess intense, success driven traits, setting high objectives for themselves. Experts suggest this may contribute to the constant pain and fatigue in such individuals.

In our modern society, success demands an ability to compete well and be effective in targeted endeavors. Type A individuals are accustomed to piling pressure on themselves as their thought process tells them they have not invested enough effort and they must push themselves to try ever harder.

A recent report in the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics (P&P) suggests that perfectionism (a common trait with type A individuals) plays a major role in the development of chronic fatigue syndrome.

It observes that personality type and stress are greatly influential in the development of unexplained and persistent fatigue and that the self-critical drive of certain personalities can compel them to exert themselves beyond the level of exhaustion.

In this regard, the Type A personality seems unable to recognize that they are pushing themselves beyond their limits of exhaustion which may promote symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.

While there is still no scientific evidence to support the correlation between type A personality and chronic fatigue syndrome some experts have also claimed it could be because Type A individuals may have higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, circulating in their body.

But it is certain that stress is a major cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. And of course, stress can be caused by overworking or excessively pushing towards a long list of commitments, without taking time out to de-stress and take care of yourself.

Type A personalities tend to overlook their body weaknesses for too long. The body’s warning signals are ignored and health eventually deteriorates.

Although all people with chronic fatigue syndrome are not necessarily type A individuals, people with such personality traits are at risk of experiencing a crash due to their constant, never ending drive for success and the inability to recognize their body’s warning signals. In this way it may take them longer to recover and will experience many setbacks on the road to wellness.

Health Issues Exhibited by Type A Personality Due to Stress

Possessing a Type A personality has a lot of advantages. You work really hard, you do everything you can to ensure situations under your control are in the best possible shape, and you set very high standards for yourself.

All of these traits can deliver immense success in career and business. However, they also come with other difficulties which can affect not only your health but your relationships with others.

Here are a few other health issues Type A personality might experience due to stress.

Heart Problems

Simple Psychology suggests a direct connection between Type a personalities and heart related problems. In fact, the health guide reports that due to accumulated stress, those with Type A personality are twice as likely to develop coronary heart diseases than those with Type B personalities,

Sleeping Difficulty

Type A personalities are literally perfectionists. This almost guarantees they will deliberately choose to lose sleep regularly to complete specific objectives. Yes, they willingly deprive themselves of sleep until all the work on their desk is complete.

Studies have shown that there is a correlation between perfectionism and symptoms of chronic insomnia. That go-getter, success oriented attitude that causes Type A personalities to work late into the night can lead to low mood, fatigue, and a lack of concentration during the day.

Anxiety and Depression

Medical research has discovered there is a connection between the Type A personality and mental health. The correlation is strongly linked to the extent that a Type A individual can develop psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression. The competitive, self-critical nature, as well as a need to put in top performances all of the time can expose a Type A individual to mental health problems.

Physical Wear and Tear

When you constantly exert pressure on yourself and put your mental powers under intense stress, it is very likely that your body will feel the impact too. Your brain uses up a lot of your energy to function.

Prolonged periods of stress can impact negatively on the body, and stress hormones may continue to be released long after the underlying cause of the stress has passed. This does not only affect your psyche, but your physical health.

How to ‘Soften’ Some Type A Characteristics to Improve General Mental and Physical Health


Reports from some experts have suggested that even if it is impossible to change personality, an individual can take certain steps to minimize the potential health risks of the personality type. Understanding what you can change is a great first step. But what are the ideal steps you can take to minimize the health risks associated with your Type A personality type?

By not allowing work and business to take over your entire life, make time for frequent breaks to do something enjoyable and move you out of the work, work, work head space. The work will still be there when you come back to it, energized and feeling refreshed with a greater sense of clarity. You’ll be able to complete your work tasks more efficiently too.

Schedule time for fun and enjoyment the same way you schedule the many items on your never ending ‘To Do List’.

chronic fatigue syndrome personality type


Some ideas for activities that will move you out of your ‘work work work’ head space are:


Music is a great non-medication stress relief therapy. While driving, you could put on your favorite music so you can arrive at your destination feeling relaxed. If you need some energy, you could play more upbeat tunes. Play music with slower pace if you need to slow down.


If you are a Type A personality, you may find difficulty switching off sufficiently for some stress relief therapy. Exercise has lots of health benefits that can help you better manage stress and is a perfect outlet for Type A personalities. Activities such as running, martial arts, or even dancing provide a perfect aerobic workout and releases stress.

However, if your particular stage of chronic fatigue syndrome is too far advanced to allow you to carry out these more strenuous forms of exercise try gentle walking or yoga instead. Whichever form of exercise you decide to do, try not to turn it into a competitive sport.

Stay Connected

It is almost normal for people with Type A personality to disconnect themselves from social life as they strive to achieve their set list of goals each day. But isolating yourself can cause a gradual buildup of stress.

On the other hand, having loving, supportive friends around can work wonders to improve your mental and physical health. Taking out time to enjoy the people around you does not necessarily have to take up a lot of your time. Sometimes it only requires a change in your communication skills to explore this wonderful stress relief therapy.


Type A people often find it difficult to balance their work life with other important aspects of their life. Scheduling time to relax can be challenging at times, but finding a balance between your busy schedule and the things you enjoy the most can help you feel relaxed, reduce stress, and then focus even better on your tasks. This may require letting go of some things, but it is a sacrifice that will produce health benefits.

Expressive Writing

If you are a Type A individual, you probably feel better when you engage in active, rather than routine passive activities. Expressive writing is an ideal way to remain active, yet reduce your stress levels. Putting your thoughts and feelings down on paper, can help get accumulated thoughts (and stress) out of your head.

For example, writing about a specific situation, including how you hope to approach it, can help you feel more relaxed and let go of any lingering worries. You’ll feel more in control of the particular situation.


If meditation is an idea that interests you, but you have found it difficult to sit in one spot for long without feeling weighed down by your thoughts, yoga is an ideal therapy. It has numerous health benefits and seamlessly incorporates some features of meditation through working with your breath, while giving you enough activity to feel relaxed without the fear of deafening silence.


If you would like to try meditation, load up your phone with some guided meditations. I find this form of meditation stills my mind very quickly and really helps me relax. Setting up a regular practice in the morning of about 20 minutes helps me move into my work day in a more balanced and relaxed way.


Firstly recognize that you could be a Type A personality, or at least recognize you have some of the traits. Learn where your personality could be harming your health and contributing to your particular form of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Try some of the tips listed to ‘soften’ your Type A personality traits where you can.

As always, please feel free to leave a comment or ask any questions.





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  1. This is an interesting post and one that I can definitely relate to. I definitely have the Type A personality, but I have been able to quiet the “noise” so to speak by doing exactly what you have suggested – meditation, yoga, exercise..etc. I truly hope more people read this and understand that they can reverse the unhealthy habits before it is too late. Thanks for the information!

    • Hi Elizabeth thanks for  commenting, if only I had the foresight to think about my personality several years ago I might have been able to prevent myself from getting sick. Well done on recognizing the traits and taking action.

  2. Very interesting! From all indications, I belong to this trait & it has affected my health adversely.. Thanks for this post. I now have an idea of d source of my problem & what to do to address the issue. . . . . . . Patricia.

    • Hi Patricia thanks for stopping by. I’m gad my post was helpful for you. Often we are not fully conscious of how our personality can affect our health, in good and bad ways.

  3. So, as a Type A nut, I just wanted to jokingly point out that now I realize I am imperfect at my ability to gain balance in life and must strive to add additional activities to my schedule… like sleep, yoga, and dancing!!

  4. Thanks for the reminder on how important it is to put work aside and focus on ourselves. I find it very difficult to find that work / life balance that I so desperately need. One thing that helps me balance my workload is when I remind myself to YES to myself instead of saying No to others. Love your website and keep the recipes coming.

    • Hi Janine thanks for taking the time to comment. You are so right, a bit of self care is so important rather than continuing to push through, when we are tired. Love your way of thinking about it, saying yes to yourself rather than saying no to others. I haven’t posted a recipe for a while, thanks for the reminder.

  5. I think the thing about type a personalities when it comes to chronic fatigue syndrome is that in their mind there is no such thing as a work life balance as some people will call it. At least in my life I didn’t see it that way considering I have shown some signs of the type a personality with relation to health problems.

    • Hi Jessie thanks for taking the time to comment. I agree that for type A personalities it’s often difficult to recognize that work life balance is very important to overall health and enjoyment of life. I hope you are managing to obtain more of this balance in your own life.

  6. Hi Ann, 

    I’m really enjoying your articles, it’s as if you are writing just for me!

    As a classic “Type A Personality” I pretty much hit all the characteristics you speak of… competitive, always looking to move faster, occasionally aggressive when pursuing goals, etc etc. I’ve tried to be conscious of monitoring my health as you are 100% right… type A’s typically ignore health warnings and continually charge hard towards their goals and objectives. 

    I love the suggestions you’ve made in order to soften the type A characteristics! I’m going to give some of them a try!



    • Hi Shane thanks for the kind comments and I’m so glad you find the articles useful. It’s not easy to change your personality and the habits that come from it. But  the first step is in recognizing them. I’m  glad to hear you have taken  action in the right direction. It’s an ongoing struggle for me. I admit.

  7. This post leaves me a little stunned. I’ve never understood the difference between type a and type b. Reading this, I am definitely a type a. Those descriptions fit me to a T. I have made a lot of headway in curbing the bad habits mentioned here (being impatient when things aren’t done efficiently and getting angry easily). It’s a little scary to see myself described so well in a generic concept like this.

    • Hi Nicole thanks for stopping by. I agree, it can be confronting when personality traits are pointed out to you. I didn’t consider myself an A type personality until I was being treated and my naturopath pointed it out to me.  Great to hear you’re taking steps to curb some of the personality traits that can cause us trouble.

  8. my wife is type A personality for sure.  She has all of the traits, but as I look at your list of what type A people can do to de stress I see things she is doing more and more.

    Her social,life has taken off , she is now a gym rat, and listens to music much more.

    I guess these are all positive signs

  9. It is strange no? I have all characteristics you mentioned here so I have Type A personality.All my life was market by competition from my childhood.When I was young I was a bright girl competing with my brother,I just wanted to be a perfect girl compared to my brother. At adult age my competitive spirit didn’t stop even at my workplace I was trying to be a ideal employee and that resulted in stress and anxiety when what i expected failed.

    I now know how to behave to avoid such syndrome.

  10. Hello Ann. I’m glad I’m reading this great information.

    I’ve never had an opportunity to read any material relating to this topic before now. From what I read here, I think I am Type A Personality. Although I think I have most of those traits but I don’t easily get angry and I don’t show less concern for others. I stress my self alot trying to achieve some goals.

    I guess I will have to take your advice to help soften my Type A Personality.

    Thank you for sharing this piece on chronic fatigue syndrome personality type

  11. Hi Ann,

    A handy article, I really enjoyed the reading!

    I was always tired when I was younger, and I never knew from where this tiredness came from until now:) My friends used to suggest me to see a doctor and do some blood tests. Which I did, but they didn’t find anything. I was perfectly healthy and always tired. Until today I still feel sometimes exhausted, but I do have two beautiful children, a husband, two big dogs, and one cat to care of:) Anyway, I can relate myself to some of the symptoms you have listed in the article, but what I know about myself is that I am not a competitive person. And I think it’s already a good thing for my health:) 

    You have suggested good activities to relax, but what I didn’t see is food. Do you think changing food habit could help too?

    Thank you for this excellent post!

    • Hi Daniella thanks for taking time to leave a comment. You might be interested in reading this post about how to increase energy naturally, it has a few tips on food that might help.

  12. It never really occurred to me that I could have the “Type A” or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome personality but I definitely exhibit some of these traits. I am ambition driven, always racing against time because I feel like there are a lot of things that need to be done but so little time. I also tend to push myself beyond my limit and capacity. I have a 9-5 job and as soon as I get home I start working on my online business. It’s scary to think that I might be on my way to developing chronic fatigue syndrome which will eventually lead to some health issues. 

    I can’t even remember the last time I did something that has nothing to do with work. You can call me a workaholic I guess. I am just glad I came across your post, an eye opener I must say. I am not really into yoga so I wonder what sort of activities do you suggest I should do for fun and enjoyment, other than expressive writing, which to me is still work, lol.

  13. Oh dear, that sounds like you just described me… Obviously I have this “Type A” personality as I’m very ambitious, impatient, a perfectionist and feel stressed out and get sweaty palms easily when I run behind my schedule or feel like I’m being unproductive. And I’ve been having a lot of trouble falling asleep lately. Sometimes when I’m in bed trying to fall asleep, I keep planning my schedule for the next day, which keeps me awake for hours. Then I wish the day had already started so that I can finally fulfill my daily duties. Seems like I can’t get out of this vicious cycle, which is why I should definitely try some of your exercises to reduce my stress levels and improve my sleep quality. Thanks for sharing this article!

  14. Hi there, Ann!

    Great article as it made me realized something I just went thru.

    I know my self well and firmly believe I don’t have that type-A kind of personality. However, the stressful nature of my previous job compelled me to be like one and couldn’t really had any chance to “soften” this to have that work-life balance and enjoy life with my loved ones and friends but rather I needed to devote more of my time in that company even until weekend which is supposedly my bonding time with my family. Got really a good package of salary but I chose to quit in favor of my health and family.

    I realized upon reading this article that my resignation was just so timely as my health was indeed at risk and heading to this kind of syndrome.

    Thanks a lot really for sharing this kind of article.

    Be safe always!


  15. Hey there,

    thanks for this great article, I found it to be very informative and I’ve really enjoyed reading it. I’ve learned a lot of new things today. Prior to this article I didn’t know what type A personality is, therefore it was really exciting to discover what kind of qualities and traits a person with Type A Personality carries.What I’ve found to be quite shocking is how chronic fatigue syndrome can often be related and connected to people who posses type A personality. And it makes sense, as these kind of people live very intense and active lives which, like You’ve said- can lead to constant pain, fatigue and much more stressful life, without them realizing that they are pushing themselves way too much, which can lead to chronic fatigue. 


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