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J Affect Disord. 2013 Dec;151(3):891-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2013.07.034. Epub 2013 Aug 26.

Affective temperaments and self-harm in adolescents: a cross-sectional study from a community sample.

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  • 1Psychiatry Department, Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon, Lisbon 1649-035, Portugal. Electronic address:



Adolescent self-harm (SH) is a major health problem potentially associated with poor outcomes including reduced life expectancy and risk of completed suicide in adulthood. Several studies point to the role of possible constitutional vulnerabilities that could predispose to this behavior. This study sets out to assess the relationship between SH and affective temperaments (AT) in adolescents.


A cross-sectional sample of public school students (n=1713), with age limits between 12 and 20, was examined using anonymously completed self-report instruments including 'The Lifestyle & Coping Questionnaire' and the 'Temperament Evaluation of Memphis, Pisa, Paris and San Diego-auto-questionnaire' (TEMPS-A). SH was defined according to strict criteria through a two-stage procedure. Statistical significance of associations with SH for categorical variables was assessed in bivariate analysis. AT predictors of lifetime SH were examined in multivariate logistic regression analyses.


Lifetime SH was reported by 7.3%, being about three times more frequent in females. SH was associated, in both genders, with a significant deviation on depressive, cyclothymic and irritable dimensions of TEMPS-A. After multivariate logistic regression adjusted to family typology, smoking status, alcohol and drug consumption, only depressive temperament remained significantly associated as a predictor of SH in both genders.


The use of self-rating instruments and the cross-sectional nature of the study limit our results.


Cyclothymic, irritable and especially depressive temperament might represent an important marker of vulnerability to SH in both male and female adolescents.

© 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Adolescence; Affective temperament; Coping; Self-harm; Suicide

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