A Longitudinal Twin Study of Personality and Major Depression in Women

Department of Psychiatry, Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond.
Archives of General Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 14.48). 12/1993; 50(11):853-62. DOI: 10.1001/archpsyc.1993.01820210024003
Source: PubMed


To elucidate the nature of the etiologic relationship between personality and major depression in women.
A longitudinal twin design in which twins completed a time 1 questionnaire and, 15 months later, were personally interviewed for the occurrence of major depression during the last year and completed a time 2-questionnaire. Both questionnaires contained short forms assessing neuroticism and extraversion.
1733 twins from female-female pairs ascertained from the population-based Virginia Twin Registry.
Extraversion was unrelated to lifetime or 1-year prevalence of major depression. Neuroticism was strongly related to lifetime prevalence of major depression and robustly predicted the prospective 1-year prevalence of major depression in those who, at time 1, denied previous depressive episodes. However, controlling for levels of neuroticism at time 1, levels of neuroticism at time 2 were moderately elevated in those who had had an episode of major depression between times 1 and 2 ("scar" effect) and substantially elevated in those experiencing an episode of major depression at time 2 ("state" effect). In those who developed major depression, levels of neuroticism did not predict time to onset. In the best-fit longitudinal twin model, the proportion of the observed correlation between neuroticism and the liability to major depression that is due to shared genetic risk factors was estimated at around 70%, that due to shared environmental risk factors at around 20%, and that due to a direct causal effect of major depression on neuroticism (via both "scar" and "state" effects) at around 10%. Approximately 55% of the genetic liability of major depression appeared to be shared with neuroticism, while 45% was unique to major depression.
In women, the relationship between neuroticism and the liability to major depression is substantial and largely the result of genetic factors that predispose to both neuroticism and major depression.

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Available from: Michael C Neale, Apr 14, 2015
    • "Others have argued that self-reported personality is not biased by psychopathology and that changes in self-ratings of personality traits may represent a lasting change in personality, or " scar effect, " that occurs as a result of anxiety or depression (Bagby et al., 1998; Kendler et al., 1993). Self-reported personality would therefore result in trait ratings that are indicative of one's postmorbid, but not premorbid , personality. "
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    ABSTRACT: Several personality traits are risk factors for psychopathology. As symptoms of psychopathology may influence self-rated personality, informant reports of personality are also sometimes collected. However, little is known about self-informant agreement in individuals with anxiety and/or depression. We investigated whether self-informant agreement on positive and negative affectivity (PA and NA) and anxiety sensitivity differs for individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) and/or panic disorder (PD; total n = 117). Informant- and self-reported PA was correlated among those with MDD, but not among those without MDD. Informant- and self-reported anxiety sensitivity was correlated among those with PD, but not among those without PD. Informant- and self-reported NA was correlated irrespective of diagnosis. Results indicate that the agreement of self- and informant-reported personality may vary as a function of depression and/or anxiety disorders.
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    • "In addition to being predicted by personality characteristics, health-related characteristics have been shown to be predictive of personality as well. The kindling effect, for example, describes the occurrence of a first episode of depression as increasing an individual's level of Neuroticism, which in turn increases this individual's risk of suffering from subsequent episodes of depression (Kendler et al., 1993; Monroe & Harkness, 2005). Similarly, some studies have already pointed to longitudinal influences of subjective health and loneliness on changes in the disposition to experience positive and negative affect (Cacioppo et al., 2006, 2010; Huxhold et al., 2013; Qualter et al., 2010; Vanhalst et al., 2012), which are characteristic facets of the broader personality dimensions of Extraversion and Neuroticism , respectively (McCrae & Costa, 2008). "
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