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Personality traits are associated with acute major depression across the age spectrum.
Aging and Mental Health
Publication types: Journal ArticlePublication Status: ppublish
Objectives: Psychological predictors, such as personality traits, have aroused growing interest as possible predictors of late-life depression outcome in old age. It remains, however, unclear whether the cross-sectional relationship between personality traits and depression occurrence reported in younger samples is also present in the elderly. Methods: Comparisons amongst 79 outpatients with DSM-IV major depression and 102 healthy controls included assessment of the five-factor model of personality (NEO PI-R), socio-demographic variables, physical health status, as well as depression features. Two sub-groups were considered, defined as young (25-50 years) and old (60-85 years) patients. Results: Depressed patients showed significantly higher levels of Neuroticism and lower levels of Extraversion, Openness to Experience and Conscientiousness compared to controls. Sequential logistic regression models confirmed that the combination of increased physical burden, levels of dependency, and increased Neuroticism strongly predicts the occurrence of acute depressive symptoms. In contrast, the levels of Neuroticism did not allow for differentiating late-life from young age depression. Increased physical burden and decreased depression severity were the main predictors for this distinction. Conclusion: Our data indicate that personality factors and depression are related, independently of patients' age. Differences in this relationship are mainly due to the intensity of depressive symptoms rather than the patients' life period. They also stress the need to consider physical health, level of dependency and severity of symptoms when studying the relationship between personality traits and mood disorders.
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