Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression in a Volunteer Twin Population: The Etiologic Role of Genetic and Environmental Factors

Kenneth S. Kendler, Andrew Heath, Nicholas G. Martin, Lindon J. Eaves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

176 Scopus citations

Abstract

We examined the etiologic role of genetic and environmental factors in 14 symptoms of anxiety and depression reported by 3,798 pairs of adult twins from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Twin Register. Multifactorlal multiple-threshold models fit the individual symptom scores well. For a substantial majority of the symptoms, the variance in liability was best explained by only genetic factors and environmental influences specific to the individual, where 33% to 46% of the variance was due to genetic factors. For four symptoms, it was not possible to choose definitively between models that, in addition to specific environment, included genetic vs familial environmental effects. These results provide strong evidence for the role of genetic factors in the etiology of symptoms of anxiety and depression as reported in a general population. Evidence for an etiologic role of familial environmental factors was much weaker. If familial environmental factors play any role in the production of these symptoms, they are more important in symptoms of depression than of anxiety, and the factors that predispose to these symptoms are only modestly correlated in males and females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-221
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of General Psychiatry
Volume43
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1986
Externally publishedYes

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