High harm avoidance and low self-directedness in euthymic young adults with recurrent, early-onset depression

D J Smith, L Duffy, Mary Elizabeth Stewart, W J Muir, D H R Blackwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: The personality dimensions of harm avoidance (HA) and self-directedness (SD), as measured by the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI), have been widely associated with depression and there is preliminary evidence that they may represent trait markers for depression. However, many studies in this area are limited by the use of heterogeneous samples of depressed patients and by the confounding effect of depressed mood during personality testing. The current study compares TCI personality dimension scores in a group of euthymic young adults with recurrent early-onset major depressive disorder (RE-MDD) to well-matched euthymic controls. Methods: Fifty-two young adults with a past history of RE-MDD were recruited from consecutive referrals to a psychiatric clinic at a university health service. Eighty nine controls were also recruited. Euthymia was established in patients by a score of less than 9 on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD) and in controls by a Becks Depression Inventory (BDI) score of less than 10. All participants completed the TCI-125. Results: Patients and controls were well matched in terms of sociodemographic profile. Euthymic RE-MDD patients scored significantly higher than controls on the temperament dimension of harm avoidance (HA; mean score 14.5 versus 7.8, p < 0.0001) and significantly lower than controls on the character dimension of self-directedness (SD; mean score 14.1 versus 19.9, p < 0.0001). Covariance analysis suggested that both HA and SD contributed independently to the familial risk of depression. Limitations: Subjects and controls all came from relatively affluent social backgrounds-these findings may not generalise to more socioeconomically diverse populations. The possibility of a 'scarring effect' of depressive episodes on self-reported personality dimension scores cannot be excluded. Conclusions: High HA and low SD represent trait markers for liability to recurrent major depressive disorder in young adults. Further research is needed to replicate these findings and to assess the contribution that the experience of depressive episodes makes to self-reported personality dimension scores. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-89
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume87
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005

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Temperament
Major Depressive Disorder
Young Adult
Personality
Depression
Equipment and Supplies
Student Health Services
Personality Inventory
Cicatrix
Psychiatry
Referral and Consultation
Research
Population

Keywords

  • Depression
  • Endophenotype
  • Harm avoidance
  • Personality
  • Self directedness
  • Young adults

Cite this

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title = "High harm avoidance and low self-directedness in euthymic young adults with recurrent, early-onset depression",
abstract = "Background: The personality dimensions of harm avoidance (HA) and self-directedness (SD), as measured by the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI), have been widely associated with depression and there is preliminary evidence that they may represent trait markers for depression. However, many studies in this area are limited by the use of heterogeneous samples of depressed patients and by the confounding effect of depressed mood during personality testing. The current study compares TCI personality dimension scores in a group of euthymic young adults with recurrent early-onset major depressive disorder (RE-MDD) to well-matched euthymic controls. Methods: Fifty-two young adults with a past history of RE-MDD were recruited from consecutive referrals to a psychiatric clinic at a university health service. Eighty nine controls were also recruited. Euthymia was established in patients by a score of less than 9 on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD) and in controls by a Becks Depression Inventory (BDI) score of less than 10. All participants completed the TCI-125. Results: Patients and controls were well matched in terms of sociodemographic profile. Euthymic RE-MDD patients scored significantly higher than controls on the temperament dimension of harm avoidance (HA; mean score 14.5 versus 7.8, p < 0.0001) and significantly lower than controls on the character dimension of self-directedness (SD; mean score 14.1 versus 19.9, p < 0.0001). Covariance analysis suggested that both HA and SD contributed independently to the familial risk of depression. Limitations: Subjects and controls all came from relatively affluent social backgrounds-these findings may not generalise to more socioeconomically diverse populations. The possibility of a 'scarring effect' of depressive episodes on self-reported personality dimension scores cannot be excluded. Conclusions: High HA and low SD represent trait markers for liability to recurrent major depressive disorder in young adults. Further research is needed to replicate these findings and to assess the contribution that the experience of depressive episodes makes to self-reported personality dimension scores. {\circledC} 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.",
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High harm avoidance and low self-directedness in euthymic young adults with recurrent, early-onset depression. / Smith, D J; Duffy, L; Stewart, Mary Elizabeth; Muir, W J; Blackwood, D H R.

In: Journal of Affective Disorders, Vol. 87, No. 1, 07.2005, p. 83-89.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - High harm avoidance and low self-directedness in euthymic young adults with recurrent, early-onset depression

AU - Smith, D J

AU - Duffy, L

AU - Stewart, Mary Elizabeth

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AU - Blackwood, D H R

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N2 - Background: The personality dimensions of harm avoidance (HA) and self-directedness (SD), as measured by the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI), have been widely associated with depression and there is preliminary evidence that they may represent trait markers for depression. However, many studies in this area are limited by the use of heterogeneous samples of depressed patients and by the confounding effect of depressed mood during personality testing. The current study compares TCI personality dimension scores in a group of euthymic young adults with recurrent early-onset major depressive disorder (RE-MDD) to well-matched euthymic controls. Methods: Fifty-two young adults with a past history of RE-MDD were recruited from consecutive referrals to a psychiatric clinic at a university health service. Eighty nine controls were also recruited. Euthymia was established in patients by a score of less than 9 on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD) and in controls by a Becks Depression Inventory (BDI) score of less than 10. All participants completed the TCI-125. Results: Patients and controls were well matched in terms of sociodemographic profile. Euthymic RE-MDD patients scored significantly higher than controls on the temperament dimension of harm avoidance (HA; mean score 14.5 versus 7.8, p < 0.0001) and significantly lower than controls on the character dimension of self-directedness (SD; mean score 14.1 versus 19.9, p < 0.0001). Covariance analysis suggested that both HA and SD contributed independently to the familial risk of depression. Limitations: Subjects and controls all came from relatively affluent social backgrounds-these findings may not generalise to more socioeconomically diverse populations. The possibility of a 'scarring effect' of depressive episodes on self-reported personality dimension scores cannot be excluded. Conclusions: High HA and low SD represent trait markers for liability to recurrent major depressive disorder in young adults. Further research is needed to replicate these findings and to assess the contribution that the experience of depressive episodes makes to self-reported personality dimension scores. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

AB - Background: The personality dimensions of harm avoidance (HA) and self-directedness (SD), as measured by the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI), have been widely associated with depression and there is preliminary evidence that they may represent trait markers for depression. However, many studies in this area are limited by the use of heterogeneous samples of depressed patients and by the confounding effect of depressed mood during personality testing. The current study compares TCI personality dimension scores in a group of euthymic young adults with recurrent early-onset major depressive disorder (RE-MDD) to well-matched euthymic controls. Methods: Fifty-two young adults with a past history of RE-MDD were recruited from consecutive referrals to a psychiatric clinic at a university health service. Eighty nine controls were also recruited. Euthymia was established in patients by a score of less than 9 on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD) and in controls by a Becks Depression Inventory (BDI) score of less than 10. All participants completed the TCI-125. Results: Patients and controls were well matched in terms of sociodemographic profile. Euthymic RE-MDD patients scored significantly higher than controls on the temperament dimension of harm avoidance (HA; mean score 14.5 versus 7.8, p < 0.0001) and significantly lower than controls on the character dimension of self-directedness (SD; mean score 14.1 versus 19.9, p < 0.0001). Covariance analysis suggested that both HA and SD contributed independently to the familial risk of depression. Limitations: Subjects and controls all came from relatively affluent social backgrounds-these findings may not generalise to more socioeconomically diverse populations. The possibility of a 'scarring effect' of depressive episodes on self-reported personality dimension scores cannot be excluded. Conclusions: High HA and low SD represent trait markers for liability to recurrent major depressive disorder in young adults. Further research is needed to replicate these findings and to assess the contribution that the experience of depressive episodes makes to self-reported personality dimension scores. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

KW - Depression

KW - Endophenotype

KW - Harm avoidance

KW - Personality

KW - Self directedness

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