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Self-perceived personality characteristics in seasonal affective disorder and their implications for severity of depression

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Abstract

The personality traits Neuroticism and Extraversion may be involved in the development of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). However, the impact of personality traits on SAD severity and whether such self-reported traits fluctuate with season is unknown. We investigated the association between Neuroticism, as acquired in a symptom-free phase and depression severity in individuals with SAD and seasonal changes in personality traits in individuals with SAD compared to healthy controls. Twenty-nine individuals diagnosed with SAD and thirty demographically matched controls completed the NEO Personality Inventory-Revised and the Major Depression Inventory twice: in summer when individuals with SAD were symptom-free, and in winter when they experienced SAD symptoms. In summer, the groups scored similarly on their personality traits, and the controls did not score any different in winter compared to summer. High scores on Neuroticism in summer was associated with more severe depressive symptoms in winter in SAD individuals. In winter, individuals with SAD scored higher on Neuroticism and lower on Extraversion, both compared to controls and to their own summer scores. Our results support that Neuroticism may represent a vulnerability marker related to SAD, and during a depressive episode Neuroticism and Extraversion may be sensitive markers of SAD pathology.

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... A separate question is if these psychedelics-associated effects on personality and mood in healthy individuals are mechanistically related to the therapeutic effects reported in patients with depression or anxiety. There is some data in support of that view: In 20 patients with moderate or severe, unipolar, treatmentresistant depression (TRD), psilocybin (10 and 25 mg, one week apart) lead to an increase in Openness and an increase in Extraversion at 3-month follow-up [20]; this observation should be seen in the light of observed increase in Neuroticism and decrease in Extraversion found in patients with seasonal affective disorder when comparing their depressed state to their symptom-free states [21]. The psilocybin-associated increase in Openness might thus constitute an effect more specific to psychedelic therapy. ...
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