Character and temperament in major depressive disorder and a highly anxious-retarded subtype derived from melancholia.

Department of Psychiatry, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Comprehensive Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 2.38). 01/2007; 48(5):426-35. DOI: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2007.04.002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT An anxious-retarded subtype of major depressive disorder, defined by high scores for both anxiety and retardation, has been derived from melancholia and appeared to have higher external validity in terms of poor outcome and vasopressinergic stress hormone regulation. A specific personality could enhance the validity of this subtype, and the association with melancholia suggested the absence of a personality disorder. As 2 character dimensions of the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI), self-directedness (SD) and cooperativeness, parsimoniously predict the presence of a personality disorder, the primary aim was to test whether patients with the highly anxious-retarded subtype of depression have both normal SD and normal cooperativeness. A secondary aim was to optimally account for the general personality characteristics of patients with a major depressive disorder.
Eighty-six patients with major depressive disorder and matched healthy controls were selected. Seventy patients were eventually recruited for a 2-year follow-up encompassing 5 assessments of personality (TCI) and psychopathology (Comprehensive Psychopathological Rating Scale). Full remission of depression was defined by the presence of less than 3 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition items of depression during 2 weeks.
State-dependent changes of SD and harm avoidance (HA) scores were found in all depressed patients. Fully remitted patients had only high HA compared with healthy controls. Unexpectedly, fully remitted patients with the highly anxious-retarded subtype, in addition, had low SD.
The temperament of high HA may be the predisposing TCI trait for major depressive disorder in general. Low SD may be a specific presumably premorbid character trait for the highly anxious-retarded subtype derived from melancholia.

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