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J Affect Disord. 2003 Apr;74(2):123-30.

Personality and depressive symptoms: a multi-dimensional analysis.

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Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, Campus Box 8134, 660 S. Euclid Ave., St Louis, MO 63110, USA.



The relationship of temperamental aspects of personality to symptoms of depression in a community-based sample of 804 individuals was examined using a multi-dimensional approach to account for heterogeneity in symptom patterns.


The Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) was used to assess personality and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale (CES-D) was used to measure depressive symptoms. Canonical correlation analysis was used to relate CES-D item combinations to temperament traits in multiple dimensions. The relationships between temperament and various conditions correlated with depression were examined using logistic regression.


Temperamental aspects of personality are related not only to total CES-D score, but also to the patterns of CES-D items endorsed by subjects. High Harm Avoidance is related to total CES-D score; high Reward Dependence combined with high Persistence is associated with restless sleep and subjective symptoms; high Reward Dependence combined with low Persistence is negatively associated with appetite loss and low energy; high Novelty Seeking is related to maintenance of positive affect and inability to concentrate. High Novelty Seeking is also associated with past suicide attempts, after adjusting for total CES-D score.


Cross-sectional data prevent analysis of causation; the severest cases of clinical depression may not be represented in a general population sample. Depressive symptoms are self-reported.


Substantial differences in level of symptoms and in symptom patterns exist among individuals in a continuum of depressed states and those differences are partially explained by temperament traits.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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