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Patterns of Anxiety by MBTI Behavior - Escaping the Grip

Updated on August 29, 2016
Ms Dee profile image

Deidre has a Masters in applied linguistics and translation for her 20 years overseas, then she worked as a certified provider of the MBTI®.

The specific symptoms of anxiety (or depression) that present and the situations that trigger those symptoms will vary among the different Myers-Briggs® personality types. However, certain anxiety symptoms that a given personality type will show and the situations that trigger them are predictable.

A person may, for example, feel negative and talk from a very negative “dogged on detail” perspective, seeing a certain issue as worse than the situation merits. This would tend to be the out-of-balance behavior pattern for that person. Whereas another experiencing anxiety may, instead, withdraw, shutdown and avoid people contact; a pattern of behavior for that person when out-of-balance or “out of sorts”.

by spaceodissey
by spaceodissey | Source

A person I’ll call Rachel has been struggling with her own over critical attitude and continued complaining, to the point where others close to her have been pointing it out. She is not one I would think of as having a problem with anxiety attacks, or panic attacks, but her struggle is just with managing a global pessimism that sometimes sets in.

All Stressed Up and Everywhere to Go!
All Stressed Up and Everywhere to Go!

This is a practical, detailed workbook that offers many de-stressing suggestions. Read it in entirety or only those sections that apply to you.


Recognize anxiety symptoms particular to the personality type

However, recently she realized this behavior is normally the way anxiety presents for her personality type when out-of-balance from worry or stress. Realizing this has empowered her to, first, better recognize when her anxiety bubbles up, because she would see her negativity and cloak of pessimism start to take hold, and then know what to do to counter it so she can escape its grip and return to a better balance.

Escape route for return to balance – also particular to the personality type

What did Rachel learn she can do to better manage her anxiety and stress? She learned that her type of personality can best return to balance by, first, getting some time alone in pleasant surroundings. Then, she could do something else she enjoys, like some small projects that fit her natural interests and that she can easily accomplish. Those things that really must be done but she’s finding hard to get done, she would best find others who can give support and concrete help to accomplish them, so that her balance can return sooner.

Anxiety symptoms by personality type

The personality type framework I am most familiar with and is most widely known is the Myers-Briggs Personality Type. Following are 8 patterns of anxiety symptoms that most people of each type say are the common behaviors they see in themselves.

Personality Type
Anxiety Trigger
New Knowledge Learned 
Careful; Orderly; Realistic 
Issues of reality; Unknowns; Overdoing own type 
Dogged on detail; Loss of task orientation and order 
Lose control over details; Impulsiveness; Catastrophizing 
Hit bottom; Others take you seriously; Unload details 
Broader perspective; Clarified values; Flexibility in relationships 
Efficient; Factual; Crisis Manager 
Excessive future focus; Closing off options; Excessive structure 
Distracted by data; Appear tired, aloof, worried 
Internal confusion; Easily offended; Grandiose visions 
Making contingency plans; Reassurance about dire preditions; Set priorities 
Less fear of possibilities; Appreciate the unknown; Access own intuition 
Innovative; Insightful; Visionary 
Detail; Unexpected events; Excessive extraverting 
Become limited in thinking; Make more factual mistakes 
Obsessive focus on external data; Sensual overindulgence; adversarial attitude 
Time alone; Lighter load; Absence of advice-givers 
Adapt to outer details; Tempered pleasures; Realistic goals 
Trusting; Optimistic; Intuitive
Exhaustion; Facts; Violation of values 
Confused with options; Poor judgment; Pessimistic 
Depression; Obsessive; Focus on body 
Meditation; Pampering by others; Support vs patronizing
Broader perspective; Value of fact and detail; More structure and planfulness 
Objective; Cool/aloof; Exacting
Strong emotional expressions; Violation of values; Loss of privacy 
Sarcastic; Cutting; Vague; Distracted 
Hyper-logic; Hypersensitive to relationships; Emotionalism 
Peace and distance from others; Fewer responsibilities; Few questions 
Accept the illogical; Recognize vulnerability; Ability to express deep feelings 
Logical; Fair; Controlled
Accountability issues; Others' display of emotion; Violated values; Regret of own harshness 
One-sided opinions with little data; Internal arguments with self 
Hypersensitivity to inner state; Outbursts of emotion; Fear of feeling 
Experience depth of feeling; Silent support from others; Talking to a trusted person 
Recognition of own limits; Acceptance of the irrational; Importance of intimate relationships 
Flexible; Open; Accepting
Negativity or excessive criticism; Fear of impending loss; Violated values 
Overreact to imagined insults; Ignore positive intuition 
Judgments of Incompetence; Aggressive criticism; Precipitous actions 
Plays itself out; Validation of feelings; Others not using reason 
Acceptance of power needs; Acknowledgement of competence; Moderate idealism 
Enthusiastic; Optimistic; Humane
Absence of trust; Pressure to conform; Interpersonal conflict 
Insist on harmony; Demand good will 
Excessive criticism; Convoluted logic; Compulsive truth quest 
Solitude; Journaling; Start new project; Privacy 
Less need for harmony; Trust in own logical thinking; Tempered response to adversity 

Which anxiety pattern grips you?

Can you tell which type (or row) in this chart is most like you by how you behave and respond to stress and anxiety triggers? Determine your signs and symptoms of anxiety by considering the above 8 patterns of Myers-Briggs® personality type behaviors, looking at

  • what triggers your anxiety,
  • your behavior when stressed,
  • your behavior when gripped by anxiety,
  • situations and responses that re-balance you, or bring you back into balance; and,
  • the new knowledge that you learn or gain from the experience.

Realizing what triggers anxiety for you, in particular, is a way to grasp what it is that you can do to bring yourself back into balance. You just might find, over time, you can learn to better re-balance yourself, and better manage life’s anxieties and stresses. Nipped in the bud you may even find depression can be avoided more often than not. I encourage you to give this a think, and a try!

A serious condition

Also by Naomi L. Quenk

Beside Ourselves: Our Hidden Personality in Everyday Life
Beside Ourselves: Our Hidden Personality in Everyday Life

This is a classic I have found very helpful for those seeking to understand why they say what they say or do what they do.



I have collected this information from these sources:

Bourke and Associates, 1900 Preston Rd. 267, PMB-80, Plano, TX 75093,, a summary chart compiled from the book In The Grip, by Naomi Quenk, 2000, CPP. Inc.

© 2010 Deidre Shelden


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    • hannahwaguinao profile image

      Hannah Guinao-wa 2 years ago from Rizal Philippines

      Very informative and full of knowledge. Thank you for sharing!

    • BruiseWayne42 profile image

      David BruiseDude 3 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio


    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 4 years ago from Texas, USA

      Denmarkguy, Neat you found this approach useful. As an INFJ, myself, I appreciate your description for what particular triggers bring on stress for you as an INFJ. Knowing this can help a lot in managing our stress better when it happens.

    • Denmarkguy profile image

      Peter Messerschmidt 4 years ago from Port Townsend

      I certainly do relate to the "triggers" listed with INFJs-- having to be too much "out" always causes me to feel some anxiety, as does having the unexpected happen. When something unplanned comes along, it takes me a long time to "regroup" before I am 100% functioning again... typically what causes the anxiety to ramp up is less the unexpected event itself than the people around me having "expectations" that I just be able to "roll with the punches" the same way they do. I'm just not good at that... "thinking on my feet" could easily be my biggest Achilles heel.

      Some cool information here-- hadn't previously seen M-B approached from this angle.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      lyphard, hello! Yes, INFPs can find it quite hard to identify a job occupation and even environment where their enjoyment of individual expression comfortably fits. May God bless your courageous effort to change your life with your new knowledge of how your SAD comes about and is triggered.

      Career options fitting for most for INFPs range along the lines of church ministry, youth work, counseling, psychology, education, natural therapies, writing, song writing, healing and change management. They may become involved in politics or industrial relations to protect the rights of individuals.

      I wonder if you've done much reading on Myers-Briggs personality type and particularly about your own INFP type. For example, -- the "Relationships" section. For most any INFP it takes time to warm to another person enough to be themselves and not withdraw or hide. I wonder if understanding more and more what is the norm for INFPs may help in accepting that this is very similar to the way most INFPs are (though with not quite as much panic). It may help with not getting so freeked by your responses, so to speak (no pun intended).

      Allowing time to warm to certain others a bit at a time is the norm for them, and if they give themselves this time to gradually get comfortable and succeed at adapting well enough to function, this may then lead to another success, another, etc. It is hard work which requires must patience (it may take months with one person just to warm enough to them). When the panic starts to rise, you have to take a break and then try again, repeating these efforts. However, just a handful of these very gradual successes would be very valuable and well worth it, it would seem. May God bless you with some!

    • profile image

      lyphard 5 years ago

      Hi Ms Dee,

      I'm an IPFN suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) for about 6 years now. I tried counselling and many other self-psychology methods which only work at times without knowing accurately about the triggers. I am very happy to chance upon your great article which can possibly be a life-changer for many others as well. I hope that i will be able to manage my SAD better too and with IPFN i am confused on the job that would be suitable as marketing is the only job that i would like to do...Hence it is very troubling and i've seen comments about people similar to me with IPFN personality taking more than 10 years and still searching for what they want...

      Nevertheless, i sincerely thank you for your contributions on behalf of many others who will benefit from your work and appreciate what you are doing. I hope that knowing how my SAD comes about will enable me to change my life for the better from this point of life onwards...there're many people with SAD who are jobless and a few even wanted to end their lives because of failure of social integration. Perhaps if they can see this article, many will be able to live a proper life without falling to the dark side...God bless!

      May i also know if IPFN personality is workable with a marketing career? I like marketing but from what i see from IPFN personlity doesn't suit to marketing and career choices are quite limited...Is there also some useful self-help psychology thinking or practice that i can do for my Social Anxiety Disorder? I tried self-help psychology thinking that i am a Mixed Martial Arts fighter and with every step is thunder to boost my confidence and courage to face people at times. Everyday i also tell myself that i am a brave and confident person when i go to public areas with more people. I am pretty pessimistic and when i was young i was criticised badly by a group of classmates which seared a mark in me leading to thinking paranoid that strangers are talking about me (sometimes). Its really bad with it as i have involuntery goose bumps (panic attacks) when socialising with people and my facial expression always seem scared which i cant help it and people know that something is not quite right which also affect my job as well as social life...I appreciate your help Ms Dee...Thank you!

      Best regards,


    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 5 years ago from Texas, USA

      Oceansnsunsets, yes, living life is stressful. Our inner personality determines how we respond to it and what is helpful for managing the stresses well. Like you say, understanding what this is for us and others we know helps greatly for us to manage stress in a healthy way.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello Ms. Dee, thanks for sharing this information. Life is so precious, and it seems to be flying by. Stress and anxiety always seem to creep up from time to time no matter how much we try to keep it at bay.

      I appreciated what you wrote, and it was interesting to try and find which best described me or those I know best in that chart. The more we know the more we can deal with things better and get back to living our lives as best we can.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 7 years ago from Texas, USA

      That's great Naomi, seeing it laid out is reassuring. It's like it makes sense out of it and says we're not really that crazy :). You're welcome and am so glad you found this!

    • Naomi Rose Welty profile image

      Naomi Rose Welty 7 years ago from Savannah, GA

      Wow, your description of what triggers anxiety for me and what happens and how to stop it are all dead on. I'm impressed, and it's surprisingly reassuring to see it all laid out in plain type. Thank you for a great article! I've never come across this information in any of my extensive reading on INFJ's or the Meyers-Briggs personality types in general.

    • Healing Touch profile image

      Laura Arne 7 years ago from Minnetonka, MN

      Great organized and well thought out hub. As a therapist by trade, I agree that all personality types have their own ways of helping anxiety. Some time it may even be an anti anxiety medication until stabilization occurrs. Great to follow you. I am your fan.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 7 years ago from Texas, USA

      Great to know you can relate to this description of the ENTP-ENFP. A question to ask yourself may be whether you tend to think more about objective analysis know and understand the nature of things (ENTP), or about the value of the new possibilities for people/yourself out of a deep concern (ENFP). This MIGHT, or might not help, you to know whether you favor more the Thinking or the Feeling mental function. :)

    • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

      Lita C. Malicdem 7 years ago from Philippines

      ENTP-ENFP- my closest type probably, with few minuses by each row which I find in other types. Got to read again to grasp it better. Nice hub.

    • BennyTheWriter profile image

      BennyTheWriter 7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      This is a truly fascinating study of anxiety as it relates to personality type. No matter one's personality or inclinations, anxiety is still a terrible feeling. But this at least gives some real insight into anxiety as it connects to the person one is. As I look at the INFJ row, once again I find anxiety triggers that I relate to.

      Truly great hub. More people should know about this!

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 7 years ago from Texas, USA

      Yes, I too struggle with my behavior when I am tired! So, our behavior is affected by our physical condition, as well. It is definitely harder to manage my own "negative stinkin' thinkin'" when I'm tired. I think, though it is harder, that I still have a choice to let my tiredness rule my attitude, or not. :-)

    • elayne001 profile image

      Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Interesting article. I have both anxiety and depression on occasion and it is a constant battle to keep going. Lack of sleep is one of the reasons as well as negative stinkin' thinkin'.

    • profile image

      Nancy Peckham 7 years ago

      Hey Dee, I want to look at this more, but what I see so far is very helpful. These are some things I am working on currently as well.