Temperament and character during the course of unipolar depression among inpatients

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Cloninger has developed a novel approach concerning relationships between psychopathological syndromes and personality by his biosocial theory. Increased levels of harm avoidance (HA) were consistently found in unipolar disorders. The present study was conducted to cross-validate, in part, previous findings that high harm avoidance (HA) persisted in the course of disorder and to explore the distinct role of character dimensions. One hundred and twenty-six inpatients with an unipolar depressive disorder and 126 healthy controls, strictly matched for age and gender have been included in the study. Our findings underline that higher harm avoidance among unipolar depressives compared to healthy controls persisted after treatment even if a significant reduction could be observed. Recurrent disorders and comorbidity with anxiety disorders seem to be related to a relatively immature character in terms of consistently lower scores for the character dimensions (e.g. self-directedness and cooperativeness) of the patients classified into these groups both at admission and at discharge compared with their healthy counterparts.

Received: 17 December 1998 / Accepted: 14 November 1999