A Longitudinal Twin Study of Personality and Major Depression in Women

Article (PDF Available)inArchives of General Psychiatry 50(11):853-62 · December 1993with77 Reads
DOI: 10.1001/archpsyc.1993.01820210024003 · Source: PubMed
Abstract
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.
    • "Second, neuroticism encompasses multiple facets, such as anxiousness, depressiveness, selfconsciousness , irritability and insecurity (Caspi, Roberts, & Shiner, 2005; McCrae & John, 1992). It is thus not surprising that high neuroticism scores are accompanied by a number of anxiety and depressive symptoms (Kendler Neale, Kessler, Heath, & Eaves, 1993; Kotov, Gamez, Schmidt, & Watson, 2010; Zinbarg et al., 2016) and disorder correlates, such as low self-esteem, low control beliefs and reduced well-being (Kandler, Zimmermann, & McAdams, 2014; Kandler, Kornadt, Hagemeyer, & Neyer, 2015). Third, neuroticism is partially heritable and largely stable in adulthood (Kandler, 2012). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this genetically informative and longitudinal study of women, we investigated the nature of individual differences in tendencies to depression (TD) and anxiety (TA) as well as in the probability to develop unipolar mood disorders (UMDs), anxiety disorders (ADs) or both. Specifically, we examined the roles of neuroticism, negative and positive life events and their interplay as heritable and environmental factors of variance in TD and TA. Cross-sectional data from a total of 1200 women including 232 patients (suffering from UMDs and/or ADs) and longitudinal data from 630 female twins including 260 complete pairs were analysed. The analyses yielded that variance in neuroticism mediated the vast majority of the genetic variance in both TD (about 85–90%) and TA (about 70–75%). Negative life events additionally contributed as risk factors accounting for common and specific environmental variance in both TD and TA, whereas positive life events only acted as protective factors in the case of TD. Moreover, TD but not TA was associated with both the probability of exposure and the sensitivity to negative life events and a negative life-event balance (i.e. more negative than positive experiences). The results were discussed within the framework of additive, dynamic and synergetic diathesis–stress models. Copyright © 2016 European Association of Personality Psychology
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2016
    • "These relations are particularly evident among individuals exposed to stress and negative life events (e.g., childhood maltreatment; Kopala‐Sibley et al., in press; Kopala‐Sibley et al., 2016; Vinkers et al., 2014), suggesting that high levels of dispositional negativity represent a diathesis for the internalizing spectrum of disorders (i.e., anxiety and depression). Among adults with a history of internalizing disorders, higher levels of dispositional negativity are associated with a greater number of co‐morbid diagnoses (Hengartner, Kawohl, Haker, Rossler, & Ajdacic‐Gross, 2016) and a more pessimistic prognosis (Berlanga, Heinze, Torres, Apiquian, & Cabellero, 1999; Duggan, Lee, & Murray, 1990; Faravelli, Ambonetti, Pallanti, & Pazzagli, 1986; Hirschfeld, Klerman, Andreasen, Clayton, & Keller, 1986; Kendler, Neale, Kessler, & Heath, 1993; Ormel, Oldehinkel, & Vollebergh, 2004; Quilty et al., 2008; Scott, Williams, Brittlebank, & Ferrier, 1995; Weissman, Prusoff, & Klerman, 1978). For example, Steunenberg and colleagues found that individuals with above‐median levels of dispositional negativity were 2.8‐times more likely to relapse or experience a new depressive episode across a six‐year follow‐up period (Steunenberg, Beekman, Deeg, & Kerkhof, 2010). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: When extreme, anxiety can become debilitating. Anxiety disorders, which often first emerge early in development, are common and challenging to treat, yet the neurocognitive mechanisms that confer increased risk have only recently begun to come into focus. Here we review recent work highlighting the importance of neural circuits centered on the amygdala. We begin by describing dispositional negativity, a core dimension of childhood temperament and adult personality and an important risk factor for the development of anxiety disorders and other kinds of stress-sensitive psychopathology. Converging lines of epidemiological, neurophysiological, and mechanistic evidence indicate that the amygdala supports stable individual differences in dispositional negativity across the lifespan and contributes to the etiology of anxiety disorders in adults and youth. Hyper-vigilance and attentional biases to threat are prominent features of the anxious phenotype and there is growing evidence that they contribute to the development of psychopathology. Anatomical studies show that the amygdala is a hub, poised to govern attention to threat via projections to sensory cortex and ascending neuromodulatory systems. Imaging and lesion studies demonstrate that the amygdala plays a key role in selecting and prioritizing the processing of threat-related cues. Collectively, these observations provide a neurobiologically-grounded framework for understanding the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders in adults and youth and set the stage for developing improved intervention strategies.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2016 · PLoS ONE
    • "First, the cross-sectional design of the study precludes conclusions being made about the direction of the effects. Although the majority of research suggests the directionality modelled in the present study (neuroticism predicting cognitive variables and cognitive variables predicting anxiety and depressive symptoms ), reverse effects cannot be ruled out [57,58,59]. Second, the sample was relatively small, which not only limits the general applicability of our findings, but also diminishes the statistical power of the study given the number of parameters estimates [60] . "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study examines the relationships between neuroticism (higher-order vulnerability factor), the cognitive styles of worry, brooding and reflection (second-order vulnerability factors) and symptoms of anxiety and depression in three groups of patients: patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and with Mixed Anxiety-Depressive Disorder (MADD). One hundred and thirty four patients completed a battery of questionnaires including measures of neuroticism, worry, rumination (brooding and reflection), anxiety and depression. Multiple mediation analyses indicate that worry may act as a mediating mechanism linking neuroticism and anxiety symptoms in the three diagnostic groups, whereas brooding-rumination may play a mediating role between neuroticism and depressive symptoms in patients with MDD and MADD and, with less certainty, in patients with GAD. Overall, our findings suggest that neuroticism may increase the risk of anxious and depressive symptoms via specific links involving either worry or brooding, respectively, and that both worry and brooding may operate in the three groups examined, irrespectively of whether anxiety or depression are the main emotions or whether they coexist without any clear predominance; consequently, we hypothesize the existence of "specific transdiagnostic" mechanisms.
    Full-text · Article · May 2016
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