The Effects of Neuroticism, Extraversion, and Positive and Negative Life Events on a One-Year Course of Depressive Symptoms in Euthymic Previously Depressed Patients Versus Healthy Controls

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We investigated a) the concurrent impact of positive and negative life events on the course of depressive symptoms in persons remitted from depression and healthy controls, b) whether the impact of life events on symptom course is moderated by the history of depression and the personality traits of neuroticism and extraversion, and c) whether life events mediate possible relationships of history of depression and personality traits with symptom course. Using data from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety, we examined 239 euthymic participants with a previous depressive disorder based on DSM-IV and 450 healthy controls who completed a) baseline assessments of personality dimensions (NEO Five-Factor Inventory) and depression severity (Inventory of Depressive Symptoms [IDS]) and b) 1-year follow-up assessments of depression severity and the occurrence of positive and negative life events during the follow-up period (List of Threatening Events Questionnaire). Remitted persons reported higher IDS scores at 1-year follow-up than did the controls. Extraversion and positive and negative life events independently predicted the course of depressive symptoms. The impact of life events on symptom course was not moderated by history of depression or personality traits. The effect of extraversion on symptom course was partly caused by differential engagement in positive life events.

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