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Depress Anxiety. 1999;10(4):147-57.

Factors differentiating personality-disordered individuals with and without a history of unipolar mood disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, MCP Hahnemann School of Medicine, MCP Hahnemann University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19129-4102, USA.


The relationship between mood disorders and personality disorders has been of longstanding interest to clinicians. Despite theoretical reasons to do so, virtually no studies have examined factors that discriminate personality-disordered subjects with a history of mood disorder (PD/HMD) from personality-disordered subjects without a history of mood disorder (PD). This study examined demographic variables, patterns of comorbidity, measures of life functioning, personality traits, and early life experiences differentiating PD/HMD (n = 83) from PD (n = 214). Diagnoses were assigned using structured clinical interviews and a best-estimate procedure. The results suggest that subjects with borderline personality disorder are more likely to have a life history of mood disorder than are subjects with other personality disorders. In addition, PD/HMDs are more likely to receive a diagnosis of anxiety disorder or alcoholism, to have lower Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scores, and to have sought treatment than PDs. On self-report measures of personality, PD/HMDs endorse higher levels of trait anxiety and affective lability (e.g., Harm Avoidance, Neuroticism) than do PDs. PD/HMDs are also more likely to report childhood physical and emotional abuse than are PDs, and to describe their parents as using affectionless control. No differences were found between Axis II clusters as a function of mood disorder history. The discussion suggests a potential model in which early environmental stress interacts with constitutional vulnerabilities to put individuals at an increased risk for both mood and anxiety disorders as well as personality disorders.

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