Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Am J Psychiatry. 2000 Sep;157(9):1436-44.

Double-blind comparison of sertraline, imipramine, and placebo in the treatment of dysthymia: effects on personality.

Author information

  • 1Outpatient Mental Health Services, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York, NY 10003, USA.



Although previous studies have shown that dysthymia, or chronic depression, commonly responds to antidepressant medications (with improvements in depressive symptoms and psychosocial functioning), there have been no systematic studies of the impact of antidepressant treatment on personality variables in patients with this disorder.


In a multicenter study, 410 patients with early-onset primary dysthymia were treated in a randomized prospective fashion with sertraline, imipramine, or placebo. The data were analyzed in terms of the subjects' scores on the Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire, a 100-item self-report instrument that measures four temperamental dimensions: harm avoidance, reward dependence, novelty seeking, and persistence.


At baseline, the harm avoidance scores of the dysthymic subjects were approximately 1.5 standard deviations higher than those of a previously reported community sample. After treatment, there was a significant decrease in harm avoidance scores, with no significant between-group differences. Remission of dysthymia was associated with significantly greater improvement in harm avoidance, with the greatest numerical change found in the patients treated with sertraline. Subjects' Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire scores were correlated at a 0.50 level with the Social Adjustment Scale both pre- and posttreatment, suggesting that a high degree of harm avoidance may be associated with poor social functioning.


Before treatment, chronically depressed patients demonstrate an abnormality in temperament, as measured by elevated degrees of harm avoidance. Remission of dysthymia is associated with improvement in this aspect of temperament.

Comment in

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Atypon
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk