Neurotics More Prone to Depression

Risk greatest after stressful life events, study finds

WEDNESDAY, May 12, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Neurotic people are more likely to suffer episodes of major depression, particularly following stressful life events, claims a study in the current issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

The study assessed 14 symptoms for major depression in 7,517 male and female twins. It found that at every level of stress exposure, neuroticism -- unresolved emotional or psychological disturbance -- increased the risk of major depression.

"We clearly showed that, as your level of vulnerability goes up, the impact of stress becomes greater and greater," study author Dr. Kenneth S. Kendler, director of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University, said in a prepared statement.

Neuroticism was measured by a 12-item scale that included such questions as, "Are you the type of person who is easily hurt?" and "Are you the type of person who is a worrier?"

Higher levels of neuroticism in men and women predicted an increased risk for major depression, especially in stressful situations such as personal assault, divorce, major financial problems, or serious illness.

Major depression affects an estimated 17 million Americans annually. It is marked by persistent sadness, apathy, a feeling of worthlessness, irritability and recurring thoughts of death or suicide.

More information

The National Institute of Mental Health has more about depression.

SOURCES: Virginia Commonwealth University, news release, May 6, 2004
Consumer News