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

Ayman H. Fanous, Michael C. Neale, Steven H. Aggen, Kenneth S. Kendler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background. The relationship between personality and psychiatric illness is complex. It is not clear whether one directly causes the other. Method. 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. Results. 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 individualspecific 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. Conclusions. 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 andMD in men may be greater than in women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1163-1172
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Medicine
Volume37
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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