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Mental Health Center

Having 'Type D' Personality May Hurt Your Health

People With Distressed Personalities More Likely to Report Worse Health After Getting a Defibrillator
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Patient Counseling and Psychological Intervention Likely to Help

Pedersen says it's important for doctors to emphasize to their patients that the majority of people who need an ICD do well with the device. But it is also essential that patients, particularly those with type D personalities, understand that their outlook on life will influence how they fare.

"Heart disease and receiving an ICD are major life events, but it is possible to lead a normal life with an ICD, and the art is to engage in activities that are important to patients and from which they derive joy and happiness," says Pedersen. "This may be easier said than done, but being aware of it and working on it, if necessary with the help of health care professionals, can provide patients with a full life, with a good quality of life."

Cardiologist Byron Lee, MD, a defibrillator specialist at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, agrees with Pedersen that doctors, including himself, need to take into account their ICD patients' psychological well-being.

"We're so focused on the body and its diseases that we don't pay enough attention to their state of mind before or after their procedure," say Lee, who was not involved in the research. "This study underscores the need to pick up on this, and it shows that that can be done with very simple questionnaires."

Lee says that such screening could lead to psychological interventions aimed at relieving a patient's emotional distress before that distress causes real harm.

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