Personality and Changes in Comorbidity Patterns Among Anxiety and Depressive Disorders

Philip Spinhoven*, Mark de Rooij, Willem Heiser, Johannes H. Smit, Brenda Penninx

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    This prospective study examined the prognostic value of the Big Five personality model for changes in comorbidity patterns of emotional disorders both from a person- and trait-centered perspective. Moreover, it is investigated whether the predictive effect of personality can be attributed to symptom severity at baseline. We followed a cohort of 2566 persons (18-65 years) recruited in primary and specialized mental health care during two years. Personality dimensions at baseline were assessed with the NEO-FFI. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.)-based diagnostic interviews with the CIDI allowed assessment of changes in comorbidity patterns of anxiety and depressive disorders over two years. Data were analyzed with latent class analysis (LCA) and latent transition analysis (LTA). LCA identified a four-class latent comorbidity class solution (Few Disorders, Fear Disorders, Distress Disorders, and Comorbid Fear and Distress Disorders) and a five-class latent personality class solution (High Resilients, Medium Resilients, Low Overcontrollers, Medium Overcontrollers, and High Over-controllers). LTA showed that the likelihood of remaining in the same latent class was larger than that of transitioning to a less severe comorbidity class. Also, after correcting for symptom severity, medium and high Overcontrollers as well as participants with lower levels of conscientiousness were less likely to transition to a less severe comorbidity class. In particular, the individual trait of conscientiousness may be less dependent on current levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms and be a key pathoplastic or even predisposing variable in anxiety and depression and needs more theoretical and empirical study.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)874-884
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Nov-2012


    • personality
    • comorbidity
    • anxiety disorder
    • depressive disorder
    • latent class analysis
    • latent transition analysis
    • TRAITS
    • MOOD
    • TWIN

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