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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 52 (2010) 1, 9 - 16

New research

Personality traits of patients who have recovered completely from depression

S. Wilson, S. van Loo, T. Geuens, S.J. Claes

background The psychobiological model of personality developed by Cloninger includes four dimensions of temperament and three dimensions of character. Studies have indicated that the personality dimensions of patients with depression differ from those of control subjects without depression.
aim To assess whether the personality traits of persons who have experienced one or more depressive episodes in the past and have made full recovery differ from the personality traits of persons who have never suffered from depression.
method The personality dimensions for 40 persons in remission but with a previous history of depression and for 49 healthy controls were determined by means of a Dutch version of the Temperament and Character Inventory (tci) questionnaire.
results Compared to the control subjects, patients in remission showed a significant increase on the temperament scale Harm Avoidance and a statistically significant decrease on the character scale Self-Directedness. The increase also applied to all subscales of Harm Avoidance and the decrease applied to four of the five subscales of Self-Directedness.
conclusion Compared to healthy control subjects, patients in remission showed a distinctly different personality profile. None of these differences can therefore be regarded merely as a transient phenomenon during a depressive episode ('state effect'). However, it cannot be concluded from the current study whether the altered personality profile is a consequence of having had a depression or whether it is a 'scarring effect' of a pre-existing vulnerability factor.


keywords major depression, personality traits, TCI