Evidence for an association of the big five personality factors with recurrence of depressive symptoms in later life

B. Steunenberg, A.W. Braam, A.T.F. Beekman, D.J.H. Deeg, A.J.F.M. Kerkhof

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Objectives: Although it is well known that recurrence of late-life depression is very common, little is known about the characteristics of older people who are vulnerable for recurrence. In order to identify characteristics of those who are at risk, the present study aimed to investigate the strength of the associations of the big five personality factors with recurrence in later life. Secondly, we studied whether there are gender and age differences in the strength of these associations. Methods: Using data from the longitudinal aging study Amsterdam (LASA) a subsample with clinically relevant depressive symptoms at one or more of the first three LASA-cycles, but who had recovered at the fourth cycle, was approached to participate in a fifth cycle to determine recurrence (n = 92). Respondents completed self-report questionnaires on personality (NEO-FFI) and depression (CES-D). By means of logistic regression analyses the associations between the Big Five and recurrence of depression at fifth cycle was investigated. Results: 58 (63%) had a recurrence of depressive symptoms. A high level of neuroticism was significantly associated with recurrence. No gender differences or age-related differences in strength of the associations of personality with recurrence were found. Conclusion: In later life, neuroticism still is associated with the recurrence of depression. Efforts to prevent recurrence of late-life depression should focus on those with high levels of neuroticism and future research should aim at further unravelling the association between depression and personality in later life. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1470-1477
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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