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Etiological pathways of depressive and anxiety symptoms linked to personality traits: A genetically-informative longitudinal study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Yusuke Takahashi, Shinji Yamagata, Stuart J. Ritchie, Edward D. Barker, Juko Ando

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-269
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Published1 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of the participants and their families in this study. Dr. Takahashi is supported by a grant from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science [Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) #19K03229] and an international collaborative research grant from the Pfizer Health Research Foundation. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Authors Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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Background: The comorbidity of depression and anxiety is associated with an increased risk of prolonged adverse mental health status. However, little is currently known about their genetic and environmental influences that help to explain both the comorbidity and distinctiveness. Using longitudinal twin data, the present study investigated both the overlapping and distinct relationships between depression and anxiety viewed from the perspective of Gray's Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory (RST): two personality traits of the Behavioral Inhibition and Activation Systems (BIS and BAS). Methods: A total of 422 twin pairs (298 monozygotic and 124 dizygotic pairs) participated by completing a personality questionnaire at wave 1, and mood symptoms questionnaires at wave 2. The waves were on average 2.23 years apart. Results: Multivariate Cholesky decomposition indicated that the genetic variance of the personality traits (BIS and BAS) explained all of the genetic variance in depressive and anxiety symptoms. Additionally, genetic factors related to the BIS positively explained depressive and anxiety symptoms, whereas genetic factors related to the BAS negatively explained only depressive symptoms. Limitations: Limitations include shorter time interval and the reliance on self-reported data. Conclusions: The present study provided evidence explaining the overlap and differentiation of depressive and anxiety symptoms by using data on personality traits in a longitudinal, genetically-informative design. The findings suggested the personality traits from Gray's RST model played an important role in the prediction, and clarified the description, of both depressive and anxiety symptoms.

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