Magazine article Science News

Depression Fails to Scar Personality

Magazine article Science News

Depression Fails to Scar Personality

Article excerpt

Researchers have found that people who suffer from major depression frequently exhibit personality traits such as introversion, a clinging dependency on others, and neuroticism, which is characterized by chronic emotional distress and a tendency to give up or cope poorly in the face of stressful situations.

Studies to date have not established whether these traits render people more vulnerable to becoming depressed or whether they to some extent represent personality scars inflicted by depression.

A new investigation finds that, in the long run, personality shows no sign of scars after a typical episode of major depression. However, repeated or unusually long bouts of this disorder may indeed exert a lasting impact, contends a research team headed by psychologist M. Tracie Shea of Brown University School of Medicine in Providence, R.I.

"The role of personality in depression [of moderate duration and severity] is more consistent with the vulnerability model than with the scar hypothesis," the scientists conclude.

Shea and her coworkers drew on a large sample of relatives, spouses, and community residents recruited as part of a national study of people who had been diagnosed with depression or other mood disorders. All participants granted psychiatric interviews and filled out extensive personality questionnaires on two occasions, 6 years apart, when they exhibited good mental health.

In a group with no prior incidents of any mental disorder, 28 people suffered their first episode of major depression in the period between the two interviews; 528 remained free of psychological conditions during that time. …

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