Negative emotionality is linked to a higher risk of depression, data from millions of people finds.
Negative emotionality, or being neurotic, involves a tendency towards fear and worry.
People who are neurotic are more likely to experience negative emotions like fear, jealousy, guilt, worry and envy.
The good news is that a depressive personality can be changed, contrary to what many people think.
The study’s conclusions come from analysing data from over two million people.
Their DNA revealed 269 genes related to depression.
Certain genes were also related to some lifestyle choice, like smoking.
The study shows that experiencing depression is linked to personality, which is partly controlled by genes.
Dr Raliza Stoyanova, of Wellcome, who funded the study, said:
“This large study is an important advance in understanding how genetic variability might contribute to risk for depression.
Given that current treatments work for only half of those who need them, the study provides some intriguing clues for future research to follow up — for example that biological pathways involved in developing the condition may not be the same as those involved in responding to treatment.”
Dr Sophie Dix, Director of Research at mental health charity MQ, said:
“This study adds to the weight of evidence that genes are one of the key risk factors in depression, which is also impacted by life events such as social environment and trauma.
The value of this could really be seen when looking into the development of personalised treatments — a welcome step given the dearth of innovation in identifying new approaches.
We have seen very little advancement in nearly 50 years for people living with depression and right now the avenues available are not working for everyone.”
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 Neuroscience (Howard et al., 2019).