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Are UC’ers More Neurotic Than Others?

if you make pictures of yourself with toilet paper in your hand and throw it on the've probably got some personality dementsions:)

if you make pictures of yourself with toilet paper in your hand and throw it on the Internet…you’ve probably got some personality dementsions:)

Hey, I hope you are all doing well.

I’m actually writing this post in a bit of a hurry as I’m hitting the road tomorrow and heading back to the US, but I wanted to make sure to get this posted before taking off in the morning. Earlier tonight I was doing some research on PubMed and I came across a study which caught my eye.  (if you haven’t heard of PubMed, be sure to read about how to use this ultra-valuable free resource later:

So here’s the deal, there’s a recent study from a few months ago titled “Personality dimensions and type D personality in female patients with ulcerative colitis“.  If you’re like me, you’d never heard of a “TYPE D Personality”, so here’s how the study defines this:

“Type D personality encompasses two main personality traits: 1) Negative Affectivity (NA) and 2) Social Inhibition (SI). Negative affectivity which is defined as the tendency to experience negative emotions across various times and situations, is closely related to neuroticism. Having high score in this trait, point out to more feelings of dysphoria, anxiety, irritability, anger, and a negative view about self and the external world. Social inhibition refers to the tendency to inhibit the expression of emotions in social interactions. Individuals with high SI score tend to avoid expressing negative emotions because of their fear of disapproval or getting no reward from the others.”

Take a moment and maybe read over that definition there again, there’s alot of big words there, and holy crap, I think I recognize some of them in myself for sure, maybe you too:)

Back to the actual study, it was interesting to learn that a group of doctors/scientists had decided to take the plunge and explore some of the effects that UC/IBD has on personality traits.  There are some big words used in the full article (which is free to read), but much of the “Results & Discussion” section is simple to read and learn from.  And I highly encourage you all to give it a read if this topic is interesting for you.

So often on this site we talk about our physical symptoms, and diets/medications/poop transplants/surgery etc… but there’s obviously so much more to living with UC.  That’s no big surprise.  I mean come on…the big QOL (quality of life) score, that’s pretty important right?

Here’s a few snippets directly from the study which I think you may find interesting too:

  • “The present findings showed that UC patients scored significantly higher on Neuroticism than the normal group.”
  • “type D personality may be associated with greater cortisol reactivity to stress”
  • “negative emotions cause some changes in the gastrointestinal motor, sensory and secretory functions[12] and thereby exacerbate the bowel symptoms in neurotic UC patients”
  • “UC patients compared to the healthy control group scored lower in extraversion”
  • “IBD patients utilize more passive coping strategies”

One thing the authors of the study explained, which should also be considered is this:

“The results of this study should be interpreted with some cautions because of some limitations. First, the current findings were based on relatively small sample size which has limited investigating the mediational or moderational relations. Second, this study was performed only on female UC patients”.

So what do you think, is this type of study interesting for you also?

Does this make you feel better/worse in any ways?

Do you feel you fit into some of the research? (I’m for sure lower in extraversion compared to 10 years ago…maybe a good thing though:)

The Bottom Line:

Maybe the results aren’t the most amazing thing you’ve seen this week, that’s your decision.  But it sure makes me feel good knowing there’s research happening on these topics.  So many thanks to the good folks out there in Iran who conducted this project.  The more we know, the more likely we are to find solutions for everyone.  That’s what I believe.

The full article can be read for free right here:


In good health,

Adam Scheuer


PS: 10 Brownie Points for anybody who writes a comment below declaring yourself a “Type D” pesonality

47 Responses to Are UC’ers More Neurotic Than Others?

  1. Colleen August 12, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    Well the article describes my daughter to a “T”. She’s always been neurotic, scared of new situations, lots of anger management issues at home but very well behaved and inhibited in public. Very rigid in her thinking, very sensitive to other’s emotions. UC for 10 months now. I’ve told her part of her healing is going to need to include meditation or yoga or some way for her to deal with her emotions better but she isn’t going for it. Maybe this article will persuade her of that.

    • Adam August 15, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

      Hey Colleen,

      Thanks for sharing some of what’s happening with your daughter, and on behalf of everyone else here, I sure hope her one year anniversary is a time where she’s made progress in managing her UC compared to a year ago.

      And also, no matter if she gets persuaded by anything in the posting/research or not, hopefully she’ll realize that she’s for sure not alone if she does find that she has some stuff in common with the other “Type D’s” out there.

      Best of luck to both of you,

  2. Natalia August 13, 2013 at 12:10 am #

    I’m not the only one then… Definitely a Type D personality! X

    • Adam August 15, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

      10 Brownie points for Natalia, no shame in type D:)

  3. Toby August 13, 2013 at 3:25 am #

    Jeez thanks a lot world of medicine. First I have an incurable life limiting condition and now I am also negative, neurotic and socially inhibited.

    Come back when you have something helpful to share.

  4. Lisa OH
    Lisa Kapp August 13, 2013 at 3:52 am #

    Thx for posting this!! That sounds a lot like me. Makes total sense

    • Adam August 15, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

      What up Lisa, great to hear from you, thought you were on an extended vacation:) hoping that was the case:))

      Don’t be so quick to claim type D…

      you know next week we’ll be rolling out Type E…

      (that’s a joke:)

      take care, and glad to hear from you:)

  5. Randy August 13, 2013 at 4:29 am #

    I definitely inhibit my emotions socially but I don’t feel that the half about negative emotions describes me. I don’t think having UC has fundamentally changed my personality although I do get grumpy during flairs. The social inhibition stuff I have certainly had my whole life.

  6. Stephanie August 13, 2013 at 5:16 am #

    I have psychological/anxiety and depression issues which came before my colitis. I have to take antidepressants. I think the 2 must be linked somehow.

  7. bev August 13, 2013 at 6:09 am #

    I know that I am definitely an introvert…I didn’t know that was a type ‘D’ trait!!


  8. Graham from England
    Graham lee August 13, 2013 at 6:32 am #

    Type D, yep sounds like me, A constant state of “fight or flight” is bad for the digestive system.

    This article has reminded me to make dealing with stress an even greater priority, without getting too worried about it obviously!

    Thanks Adam….

    • Adam August 15, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

      what up Big G,
      super dooper great to hear from you, and are you telling me the International Olive Oil King is a D-Man too???

      way cool,


      • Graham from England
        Graham lee August 16, 2013 at 12:33 am #

        You too Adam and hope you are well..

        Type D hence @realslimshakey nickname (Twitter).

  9. lynne August 13, 2013 at 6:40 am #

    I don’t know. This kinda sounds like psycho-babble to me. Doesn’t everyone “experience negative emotions across various times and situations”?? Isn’t that part of being human?

    I do think our personalities, thought patterns, and ability to manage stress affects our uc, tho. I’m realizing that I take stress to the gut. There is a lot of sensitivity in our guts – which is why we have the phrase “gut feeling”. Currently, I’m learning how to relax my gut muscles, and I’ve decided to have counseling to sort thru some stuff in my life. Along with the counseling comes biofeedback, which I knew nothing about before. Apparently, it will measure how I handle stress physically (measuring muscle tightness, perspiration, etc). Then I will learn techniques on managing stress & be able to see how my body reacts differently.

    Along with weaning off meds & being very deliberate with the supplements I take, I figured I should also approach my uc from this angle of stress & anxiety management. It is probably equally as important.

    For myself, I know I tend towards intensity. A deep thinker, an over-thinker. Good in some ways, I suppose, but I can get a little extreme. Ha.

    I believe another hugely important thing for us is rest, i.e. Sleep. Just plain old solid sleep. :)


    p.s. Bev, how are you doing?

    • Greg August 13, 2013 at 8:39 am #

      Lynne, I agree that sleep is one of the most important pieces in keeping my UC from flaring… sleep, regular stretching/exercise, and lots of green leafy veggies/balance diet gave me 6 years w/o a flareup. I do find it very compelling that this study found a correlation to UC and the described symptoms. I feel that I have suffered throughout my life more than those around me with many of the bullet points described. I also over think and get wrapped up in deep thought, and am too often intense. It feels to me like these symptoms could all be part of the correlation the study found with UC. Just my $0.02. I would love to be less like the symptoms and more calm/relaxed.

  10. Colleen August 13, 2013 at 6:44 am #

    I don’t know if I am “neurotic” but I do think my developing UC has a lot to do with me not dealing well with my emotional stress. I do tend to bottle things up and not let people know when I am not feeling on top of the world but I also know that no one wants to hang around with someone who is always complaining so in that way I don’t like to make my problems everyone elses…is that being neurotic? Either way it’s difficult to change now but maybe I could do with some kind of “beating up a doll” therapy. LOL! :) What does everyone else do to deal with their “issues”?

    • bev August 13, 2013 at 8:13 am #


      Good one, Colleen!!


    • Katy August 15, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

      Colleen, Your “beating up a doll” comment really holds true for me. I just bought a 70 pound punching bag and need to get it put up in my garage. I have realized in the last year that I hold in my anger too much. Never knew how to deal with it so I thought, hey, I’ll get a punching bag. Hope it’ll help, if I ever get it put up, ha.

  11. Erica August 13, 2013 at 7:06 am #

    Well, I am definitely type D. But what came first? Did the type D cause the UC, or did the UC cause my type D??

    • bev August 13, 2013 at 8:11 am #

      I was thinking the very same thing, Erica…I was optimistic, happy, and never depressed at all before I got UC.

      I still am those things, unless I’m in a flare…then I tend to get ‘down’ and more introverted…

      These past 15 months of remission have been awesome. I am out and about…out of my ‘shell’ so to speak. Happy and optimistic, like my old self again.

      Food for thought…the chicken or the egg…

      • Katy August 15, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

        Healthcare stresses me because I have a huge deductible so I know that just adds to the stress, how so we handle that one?

        • Erica August 15, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

          OMG–so true! I’m in the middle of a flare, bleeding a bunch, and just found out my insurance will only cover a colonoscopy if it’s just a “screener,” but since I actually have a reason that someone needs to go take a look, now I am responsible for $100 co-pay and must meet my deductible of $2500! That makes no sense! Not to mention that just dealing with the gastroenterologist stresses me out because the office staff is so rude!

          • Katy August 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

            That doesn’t make sense, Erica. I have a $2900 deductible which I had to meet in 2009 when I got diagnosed and this year when I had a severe flare in January. Plus paying monthly premiums myself cause I am self employed is really, really hard. I am getting on a budget and trying to find ways to cut back on phone, etc to help.

    • Nancy M
      Nancy Marshall July 3, 2014 at 9:51 am #

      I have to agree, I don’t think I was Type D until AFTER I developed UC. It changed so much in my life.

  12. Emilie August 13, 2013 at 7:30 am #

    Definitely. I have to admit to both. Socially inhibited. I forced myself to develop friendships. It really helped. Struggle with negative thoughts. I think this is related to my UC.

  13. Sharon August 13, 2013 at 8:09 am #

    Interesting…I thought after reading Adam’s post most people would jump in and try to refute it. I mean who wants to be told you are neurotic and that may have led to UC. I for one am very extroverted, took years to learn how to keep my mouth shut when I prefer to let people know exactly how I feel in the moment, and tend to look at the positives over the negatives. I even look at my extreme reaction to Lialda that shut down my major organs as a blessing. I do tend to stress about things and definitely try to control outcomes which can get my intestines in a wad. I am curious to know about a study done by men about women, in a culture that has historically suppressed the rights and freedoms of women…..(sorry to stir the pot)

    • bev August 13, 2013 at 8:12 am #

      No, Sharon…stir away!

      I don’t think I’m this ‘type D’ at all…

      Read my post above…

      I don’t concur with this idea 100%.


  14. Greg August 13, 2013 at 8:22 am #

    When I read the 5 bullet points it made me a little anxious as it describes me very well unfortunately. Now that I have thought about it for a few minutes, I am relieved and a little hopeful that it will encourage more UC studies. I am very interested in this particular study and would try to participate in a male or gender neutral study if there was one in SoCal. I’ll keep a look out and post if I find one.

    Adam, have you come across any other information related to these findings that suggest UC sufferers can counteract (or mask?) these symptoms. …besides the run-of-them-mill psychiatric/pharmaceutical cocktails. I would love to be less like the bullet points describe, and my family would love it too.

    Thanks for sharing your great find!

    • Adam August 13, 2013 at 8:46 am #

      Hey Greg,

      This topic is pretty interesting, and in the coming weeks I’ll be doing alot more research into it. For now, I don’t have any more info on it, but I’m sure its out there, and I’ll try to bring it forward soon.

      Best to you, and I’m most happy that in some way this research has brought you some relief.


    • Col August 15, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

      Greg, have you tried Valerian Root? It’s supposed to have both a stress-relieving effect and help with GI issues (perhaps this points to another correlation between the two, for some of us anyway). I started taking it recently to see if it would help with the cramps I was still getting at night-time that would wake me from my sleep. It worked almost immediately for me and it gives you the very awesome benefit of also getting a good night’s sleep. I’ve never taken anything for anxiety or any kind of sleep aid, but I have to say this has added another layer to my healing that I am very appreciative for. Nothing like a good night’s sleep to help restore us.

      • Graham from England
        Graham lee August 16, 2013 at 12:48 am #

        Greg, I agree with Col about the Valerian Root, I believe it is natural and I also use it now and again. I used it at night but it also had a calming effect during the day. As always, read the instructions…

      • Greg August 16, 2013 at 11:02 am #

        Thanks Col/Graham. I am not familiar with Valerian Root, but am looking into it. Do you know if it is only supposed to be used at night? From your experience, does it work during the day? Or will I be to relaxed/groggy/drowsy/etc. to work a desk job?

        • Graham from England
          Graham lee August 16, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

          Greg, it’s a natural sleep aid that helps anxiety, best taken at night so you are not drowsy during the day (when you are working). I wasn’t aware of being drowsy during the day but definitely less anxious and calmer. Available in most UK chemists not sure elsewhere..

  15. Angela August 13, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    I have to agree with Lynne. I think anyone (not just UC’ers) when they get diagnosed with a disease is going to take a self-esteem hit, that’s being human. It would be interesting to see how long patients have had UC in respect to its effect on personality traits. Or if people with a tendency for Type D personality before getting sick becomes more exaggerated. Everyone handles stress differently. I’ve found that getting diagnosed with UC has helped me in a very weird way. I used to be very shy and introverted (before getting diagnosed) and now I’m pretty much like “screw it, I’m doing what I want and having fun”.

    • bev August 13, 2013 at 11:31 am #

      What a great post Angela. Well said.

      What a great discussion this is.

      Cheers Adam :)

  16. Amber August 13, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    I have some reservations about this study. Did you catch that the “normal” controls were the sisters of those who had the ulcerative colitis? That could add another dimension to the study results. (How many were older sisters vs younger, how did family perceive the sister with IBD when compared to the “normal” sister.)

    One quote stands out for me:

    “Perhaps patient’s mental preoccupation with the disease, its consequences, and prognosis result in the lack of thought flexibility and real limitations that may be related to bowel symptoms such as faecal incontinence, which in turn restrict patient’s openness to new experiences in new situations.”

    Yes, yes, and yes. Living with IBD takes a huge part of your brain function, and just getting through the day while acting like you aren’t sick is difficult. There are so many factors at work here, and being social or “extraverted” aren’t high on the list.

    This is not to say that it’s inconceivable that there can be personality traits common in people who have IBD. But how would we know if they were “pre” or “post” diagnosis unless patients were studied both before and after?

    It’s good to see this type of study being done, but I’m not sure this particular one adds anything new to our understanding. The take-away for me is that we need help and support to improve our quality of life, which most of us clearly aren’t getting. Maybe that would calm some of our neuroses. (Not to say I’m neurotic. OK, I am, but that’s neither here nor there…)

    Thanks for the discussion!

  17. shelly in maine August 13, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

    Interesting…I agree with lots above…chicken or the egg. Really I find myself a little more OCD about bathrooms and food, etc because we HAVE to! After more and more years it is what you do and not depressing,but just a UC way of life…especially when flaring.
    :-) Shelly

    • shelly in maine August 13, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

      and our diets are generally better, we know our bodies inside and out, we exercise, we practically have degrees in nutrition, pharmacy, Dr/nurse,
      Can find any bathroom in a infinite radius!, save money not eating out or going out drinking! And even though UC sucks…the grass is never greener… :-)

  18. Gerald August 13, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

    Holy cow ..sounds alot like me. I get alot of negative thoughts and get depressed alot and anxiety .I thought I was alone on this.

  19. Col August 15, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    This is the other Colleen. Switching my moniker because there seem to be a few Colleens on the site recently. Anyway, I also think this study is looking through the wrong lens. We all have a little neurotic in us, but whose neuroses isn’t going to be exacerbated by the symptoms we all experience when in a bad flare. I mean, when you need a bathroom as often as we do, and experience symptoms as embarrassing and humiliating as we do on a daily basis (when in a flare), who isn’t going to experience high levels of stress and some seemingly neurotic behavior? Especially when things are bad.

    I do however totally agree that stress plays a part in making symptoms worse. So those of us who are more sensitive to stress need to be aware of that and work on keeping stress out of our lives as much as we can. It’s chicken-egg in some cases, but the bottom line is to relieving stress helps us all around.

    • Adam August 20, 2013 at 9:48 am #

      Right on Col/Colleen,

      ” but the bottom line is to relieving stress helps us all around.”

      At the end of the day, what you said above is a great goal to have for sures!!

  20. Debbie
    Debbie August 29, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

    Not it! This reminds me of when I was diagnosed – let me set the stage…I was 18, sitting in my new GI doc’s office which hadn’t been updated since the 70’s, with my doc and several nurses standing around me (idk why they were all there- probably bc i looked awful). I hadn’t eaten in days, I’d lost 20 lbs (!), and I could no longer drink water without running to the bathroom! So I was in bad shape…
    They had a paper all about people with UC being type “A” personality
    Nurse: (reading off a paper) “Are you stressed?”
    Me: “well…yes…i’ve been sh***ing blood for days”
    Nurse: “How do you deal with stress?”
    Me: “I like to run long distance!”
    Nurses tut-tut in unison: “oooh! noooo!”
    Me: “what?”
    Nurse: (reading off paper) “People with ulcerative colitis tend to eat while walking….” looks at me over her glasses expectantly…
    Me: “well, yeah. sometimes I eat while I’m walking to class because I’m not allowed to eat during class”
    Nurse: “…How many bowel movements did you have per day before getting sick?”
    Me: “What’s a bowel movement?”
    Nurse: “How many times did you go to the bathroom?”
    Me: “oh…it depended on how much water I drank (thinking “peeing” was a bowel movement). Seven, I guess?”
    Nurses tut-tut in unison: “oooh! noooo!”
    Me: “what?? is that bad?”

    At that time in my life I was definitely a type “B” personality. I became more of an “A” in college, and am now gravitating more towards “B” in an effort to live a less stressful life :)
    I admit that I was for a time very much type D, but only due to circumstances caused by my UC. I needed a counselor to get me out of that! I strongly recommend seeking therapy for anyone who wants to learn healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety. It can only help! After 2 years of the lowest self esteem I have ever experienced, I finally feel joy again in the day to day. I still have anxiety, but I have learned to recognize it and reason myself out of it.

    The best of luck to all of you in dealing with your anxiety and stress!!

  21. Wendy September 2, 2013 at 8:17 am #

    a,b,c,d,e,f,g—-next time won’t u poop with me! -(hhoj) :-D

  22. Tim B
    Tim December 7, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    I definitely fall into this category since being diagnosed with UC. It has sucked the life out of my personality as I am constantly worried about a flare when I am around new people. Of course, the more this happens the more I stress myself out which actually increases the likelihood of getting a flare for me. Almost a self fulfilling prophecy with that. I am very glad though this type of stuff is being researched. Thanks for posting.

  23. Aido December 31, 2013 at 2:15 am #

    Yes. This all sounds familiar. Ever since being diagnosed in ’07, I was struggling with a way more negative outlook on everything. Anger, anxiety, depression, it took me a couple if years to realise I had changed in these ways.
    Was scheduled for surgery in 2010 but narrowly avoided it. That was followed by 18 months of humira, followed by fecal transplant early 2012.
    Currently managing stress with reflexology and homeopathy and currently symptom free using salofalk and mezavant.
    Great website Adam.
    Keep up the good work.
    – Aido, Dublin, Ireland. Type D!

    • Adam January 2, 2014 at 5:49 am #

      Yeah Aido!! for being symptom free with what you’re doing.

      And yeah for Dublin, Ireland!!! (Would love to be hanging there right now)

      Keep up the positive spirit, and wishing you a great 2014!


  24. Joey Cascio August 5, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    This I can surely relate to. I’ve had UC for 5 years now and in the first couple years it didn’t effect my personality too much. But now after an increased work schedule and what feels like more pressure to keep up with everything while dealing with UC my personality has changed a lot and I’ve been trying to understand why. I get social anxiety being around groups of people and have bouts of depression where I want nothing to do with the world I live in. I’ve become more irritable and less enjoyable to be around, even for my fiancee. It’s a constant battle to control my emotions but everyday I’m learning.

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