Personality and depressive symptoms: A multi-dimensional analysis

Richard A. Grucza, Thomas R. Przybeck, Edward L. Spitznagel, C. Robert Cloninger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Background: The relationship of temperamental aspects of personality to symptoms of depression in a community-based sample of 804 individuals was examined using a multi-dimensional approach to account for heterogeneity in symptom patterns. Method: The Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) was used to assess personality and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale (CES-D) was used to measure depressive symptoms. Canonical correlation analysis was used to relate CES-D item combinations to temperament traits in multiple dimensions. The relationships between temperament and various conditions correlated with depression were examined using logistic regression. Results: Temperamental aspects of personality are related not only to total CES-D score, but also to the patterns of CES-D items endorsed by subjects. High Harm Avoidance is related to total CES-D score; high Reward Dependence combined with high Persistence is associated with restless sleep and subjective symptoms; high Reward Dependence combined with low Persistence is negatively associated with appetite loss and low energy; high Novelty Seeking is related to maintenance of positive affect and inability to concentrate. High Novelty Seeking is also associated with past suicide attempts, after adjusting for total CES-D score. Limitations: Cross-sectional data prevent analysis of causation; the severest cases of clinical depression may not be represented in a general population sample. Depressive symptoms are self-reported. Conclusion: Substantial differences in level of symptoms and in symptom patterns exist among individuals in a continuum of depressed states and those differences are partially explained by temperament traits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-130
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of affective disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2003


  • Canonical correlation
  • Depression
  • Personality
  • Temperament


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