Stability of chronotype over a 7-year follow-up period and its association with severity of depressive and anxiety symptoms

Stella J. M. Druiven*, Johanna H. M. Hovenkamp-Hermelink, Stefan E. Knapen, Jeanine Kamphuis, Benno C. M. Haarman, Brenda W. J. H. Penninx, Niki Antypa, Ybe Meesters, Robert A. Schoevers, Harriette Riese

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Chronotype is an individual's preferred timing of sleep and activity, and is often referred to as a later chronotype (or evening-type) or an earlier chronotype (or morning-type). Having an evening chronotype is associated with more severe depressive and anxiety symptoms. Based on these findings it is has been suggested that chronotype is a stable construct associated with vulnerability to develop depressive or anxiety disorders. To examine this, we test the stability of chronotype over 7 years, and its longitudinal association with the change in severity of depressive and anxiety symptoms. Methods: Data of 1,417 participants with a depressive and/or anxiety disorder diagnosis and healthy controls assessed at the 2 and 9-year follow-up waves of the Netherlands Study of depression and anxiety were used. Chronotype was assessed with the Munich chronotype questionnaire. Severity of depressive and anxiety symptoms were assessed with the inventory of depressive symptomatology and Beck anxiety inventory. Results: Chronotype was found to be moderately stable (r = 0.53) and on average advanced (i.e., became earlier) with 10.8 min over 7 years (p <.001). Controlling for possible confounders, a decrease in severity of depressive symptoms was associated with an advance in chronotype (B = 0.008, p =.003). A change in severity of anxiety symptoms was not associated with a change in chronotype. Conclusion: Chronotype was found to be a stable, trait-like construct with only a minor level advance over a period of 7 years. The change in chronotype was associated with a change in severity of depressive, but not anxiety, symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-474
Number of pages9
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 17-Feb-2020


  • anxiety symptoms
  • chronotype
  • depressive symptoms
  • test-retest

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