A longitudinal study of personality and major depression in a population-based sample of male twins

Virginia Commonwealth University, Ричмонд, Virginia, United States
Psychological Medicine (Impact Factor: 5.43). 09/2007; 37(8):1163-72. DOI: 10.1017/S0033291707000244
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The relationship between personality and psychiatric illness is complex. It is not clear whether one directly causes the other.
In a population-based sample of male twins (n=3030), we attempted to predict major depression (MD) from neuroticism (N) and extraversion (E) and vice versa, to evaluate the causal, scar, state, and prodromal hypotheses. In a longitudinal, structural equation twin model, we decomposed the covariation between N and MD into (a) genetic and environmental factors that are common to both traits, as well as specific to each one and (b) direct causal effects of N at time 1 on subsequent MD, as well as between MD and subsequent N.
E was negatively correlated with lifetime and one-year prevalence of MD. N predicted the new onset of MD, and was predicted by both current and past MD. It did not predict the time to onset of MD. All of the covariation between N and MD was due to additive genetic and individual-specific environmental factors shared by both traits and a direct causal path between MD and N assessed later. No genetic factors were unique to either trait.
In men, N may be a vulnerability factor for MD but does not cause it directly. However, MD may have a direct causal effect on N. The genetic overlap between N and MD in men may be greater than in women.

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Available from: Michael C Neale, Jul 28, 2015
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    • "Adjusting for neuroticism at Time 1, those with new occurrence of MDD in the intervening period had higher neuroticism at Time 2, especially those with current MDD at Time 2. After controlling for their common genetic and environmental influences, the bestfitting twin model indicated that MDD had a small causal influence on neuroticism, consistent with a stagnation process. These findings were then replicated in a large sample of male twins (Fanous et al., 2007). Notably, these two studies were longitudinal but not developmentally informed as the samples included adults of a wide age range, varying in proximity to periods of greatest change in NE traits. "
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    • "These studies have shown that MDD is positively associated with neuroticism and negatively with extraversion. Moreover, clinical and population based studies have identified neuroticism as an important vulnerability factor for MDD (Boyce et al., 1991; Fanous et al., 2007; Hettema et al., 2006; Hirschfeld et al., 1989; Kendler et al., 2006; Kendler et al., 2004; Ormel et al., 2004), whereas low extraversion appears to be associated only weakly to MDD (Kendler et al., 2006). "
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    • "More attention has been given to the study of genetic and environmental influences on depressive symptoms and measures reflecting negative emotionality. In men, genetic correlations between measures of depressive symptoms and neuroticism range from 0.37 to 0.99 depending on whether patient or non-patient samples are used, and the type of instrument (Fanous et al. 2007; Hettema et al. 2006; Kendler et al. 1987a, b; Middeldorp et al. 2005). In general, it appears that a non-specific ''genetic-distress'' factor explains the shared covariance between depression and anxiety in a normal population. "
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