The personality trait of neuroticism predicts depression, research finds.
DNA analysis from over 300,000 people has found that the genes linked to neuroticism are also linked to depression.
Over half of the genetic variations associated with neuroticism are expressed in the brain.
People who are neurotic have more frequent feelings of guilt, anxiety and worry.
Dr Michelle Luciano, the study’s first author, said:
“This is the largest study of its kind in the area of personality.
These discoveries promise paths to understand the mechanisms whereby some people become depressed, and of broader human differences in happiness.
They are a resource for those seeking treatments for depression.”
Researchers used genetic data from people aged 39 to 73.
Their neuroticism was measured by a questionnaire and genetic analysis found 116 genetic variations linked to neuroticism.
Professor Ian Deary, study co-author, said:
“For millennia it has been recognised that people have a greater or lesser tendency to feel low, worry, and experience other negative emotions.
We knew that a part of the explanation is genetic differences between people, but it’s been a mystery which genes are involved.
These new results, from the very large UK Biobank sample, make a substantial contribution to solving that mystery by pointing to many specific places in the genome that are linked with neuroticism.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Nature Genetics (Luciano et al., 2017).