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Psychol Med. 1997 Mar;27(2):355-62.

Pre-morbid psychometric profile of subjects at high familial risk for affective disorder.

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  • 1Clinical Institute, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Recent observations indicate that a certain pre-morbid personality profile ('autonomic lability', i.e. elevated neuroticism, frequent somatic complaints and increased interpersonal sensitivity) appears to be a valid antecedent of major depression. However, most of these prospective studies used samples drawn from the general population, which limits the power of any observed differences between subjects who developed a depressive disorder during the follow-up period and those who did not.

METHODS:

We investigated the psychometric profile of 54 high-risk probands (aged between 18 years and 45 years) without a current or lifetime diagnosis of any psychiatric disorder, but who had first-degree relatives with an affective disorder according to DSM-III-R criteria. Twenty-two control probands, matched for age and gender and without any personal or family history of psychiatric disorders, served as the reference group.

RESULTS:

As a group, the high-risk probands scored higher than the controls on scales that assessed neuroticism, rigidity, depressive cognitions, vegetative lability and stress. With an individual-orientated approach (cluster analysis), 30 high-risk probands were identified as conspicuous, characterized by elevated rigidity and increased 'autonomic lability'. The remaining 24 high-risk probands showed a psychometric profile very similar to that of the controls.

CONCLUSIONS:

The present findings in 54 probands at high risk for affective disorders not only strongly underline the assumption that the personality trait 'autonomic lability' is a valid antecedent of at least major depression, but also add the personality trait 'rigidity' as a further and potential candidate for a true vulnerability marker for affective disorders.

PMID:
9089828
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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