Mastery and Neuroticism Predict Recovery of Depression in Later Life

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Abstract

Objective:

The authors examined whether personality characteristics such as mastery, self-efficacy, and neuroticism predict the likelihood of recovery of depression among elderly in the community. It was hypothesized that these personality characteristics do predict recovery but that their effect is overwhelmed by the effect of deteriorations in physical health, cognitive decline, and loss of social resources. The second research question investigated whether these personality characteristics moderate the negative impact of the other prognostic factors on the chance of recovery.

Methods:

A prospective (nine-year) follow-up study of 206 depressed elderly (55–85 years at baseline) participants of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam. Data on chance of recovery were analyzed using Cox proportional regression analyses.

Results:

Both in the univariate and in the multivariate model, the personality characteristics, especially neuroticism, predicted recovery of depression. The effect of neuroticism was similar to that of physical health and stronger than the impact of cognitive decline or social resources. No support was found for personality as a moderator of the negative impact of age-related stressors.

Conclusions:

Personality characteristics, i.e., neuroticism and physical health-related variables are separate but equally important domains for the chance of recovery of depression in later life.

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