The importance of personality and life-events in anxious depression: from trait to state anxiety

Date C. van der Veen*, Silvia D.M. van Dijk, Hannie C. Comijs, Willeke H. van Zelst, Robert A. Schoevers, Richard C. Oude Voshaar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: Anxious depression is associated with severe impairment and bad prognoses. We hypothesize that recent life-events are associated with more anxiety in late-life depression and that this is conditional upon the level of certain personality traits. Method: Baseline data of the Netherlands Study of Depression in Older Persons (NESDO) were used. In 333 patients (≥60 years) suffering from a major depressive disorder, anxiety was assessed with the BAI, personality traits with the NEO-FFI and the Mastery Scale, and life-events with the Brugha questionnaire. Multiple linear regression analyses were applied with anxiety severity as dependent and life-events and personality traits as independent variables. Results: 147 patients (44.1%) had recently experienced one or more life-events. The presence of a life-event is not associated with anxiety (p =.161) or depression severity (p =.440). However, certain personality traits interacted with life-events in explaining anxiety severity. Stratified analyses showed that life-events were associated with higher anxiety levels in case of high levels of neuroticism and openness and low levels of conscientiousness or mastery. Conclusions: In the face of a life-event, personality traits may play a central role in increased anxiety levels in late-life depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1177-1183
Number of pages7
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2017

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