Thursday, 21 August 2003
This presentation is part of : Approaches to Depression

S095-004 Neuroticism Increases Risk for First Lifetime Episodes of Depression in a Birth Cohort of 70 Year Olds Followed for 15 Years: The Göteborg Longitudinal Study

Paul Duberstein1, Sigurňur Pálsson2, Magnus Sjögren2, Margda Waern3, and Ingmar Skoog4. (1) Laboratory of Personality and Development, Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA, (2) Institute of Clinical Neurosciences, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden, (3) Institute of Clinical Neurosciences, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden, (4) Institute of Clinical Neuroscience, Neuropsychiatric Epidemiology Unit, Göteborg University, Sahlgrenska Academy, Göteborg, Sweden

Objective: Etiological studies of incident depression in older adults are rare. Personality traits such as neuroticism and introversion elevate risk in younger adult cohorts, but the association between personality and incident depression in older adults has not been definitively demonstrated. We sought to examine whether personality traits amplify risk for incident depression.

Design: A randomly sampled birth cohort (n=337) completed the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ) at age 70. The sample was followed longitudinally for 15 years. For the current analyses, we restricted the sample to those without a lifetime history of depression or dementia at age 70 (n=272).

Materials and Methods: Diagnostic data based on DSM-III-R criteria were derived by chart review and structured psychiatric interviews conducted at six timepoints, when the patients were 70, 75, 79, 81, 83, and 85. Chart reviews and structured interviews were conducted by experienced psychiatrists. Diagnostic procedures are outlined by Pálsson, Östling, and Skoog ("The incidence of first onset depression in a population followed from the age of 70 to 85" Psychological Medicine, 2001). Predictors of interest were the Neuroticism (range: 0—44) and Extroversion scores on the EPQ. Important covariates were gender, education, diastolic blood pressure, number of self-reported physical diseases, and social engagement.

Results: There were 60 cases of first lifetime episodes of depression (major depression, dysthymia, depressive disorder NOS) during the follow-up period, 36 before the age of 79 and another 24 between the ages of 79 and 85. Logistic regression analyses consistently showed that the EPQ Neuroticism score (but not the EPQ Extroversion score) was associated with first-onset depression in this birth cohort (OR per one point increase on the EPQ=1.07; 95%CI=1.03,1.10) Neuroticism was also associated with incident depression when individuals with incident dementia (n=61) were excluded from the analyses (OR =1.08; 95%CI=1.04,1.12)and also when incident cases of depression between 70 and 79 years (OR =1.08; 95%CI=1.04,1.13) and between 79 and 85 (OR =1.06; 95%CI=1.00, 1.11) were analyzed separately.

Conclusion: We believe this is the first prospective study on a community sample of older adults to show that personality traits amplify risk for a first lifetime episode of depression. Findings have implications for theories on the etiology of later life depression and potentially for the identification and treatment of people at risk.

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