Normal personality traits and comorbidity among phobic, panic and major depressive disorders

O. Joseph Bienvenu, Clayton Brown, Jack F. Samuels, Kung Yee Liang, Paul T. Costa, William W. Eaton, Gerald Nestadt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


High comorbidity among anxiety and depressive conditions is a consistent but not well-understood finding. The current study examines how normal personality traits relate to this comorbidity. In the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area Follow-up Study, psychiatrists administered the full Schedules for Clinical Assessment in Neuropsychiatry to 320 subjects, all of whom completed the Revised NEO Personality Inventory. The disorders of interest were simple phobia, social phobia, agoraphobia, panic disorder, and major depression. Analyses were carried out with second-order generalized estimating equations. The unadjusted summary odds ratio (SOR - or weighted mean odds ratio) for all five disorders was 1.72 (95% confidence interval = 1.21-2.46). Neuroticism, introversion, younger age, and female gender were all significant predictors of prevalence of disorders. After adjustment for the relationships between these personality and demographic predictors and prevalence, the association among disorders was much weaker (SOR = 1.11, 95% CI = 0.79-1.56). However, subjects with high extraversion had a SOR 213% as high (95% CI = 102-444%) as those with low extraversion (1.60 vs. 0.75). Therefore, neuroticism and introversion are associated with increased comorbidity due to relationships in common with the prevalence of the different disorders. In contrast, extraversion is associated with increased comorbidity per se.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-85
Number of pages13
JournalPsychiatry research
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 10 2001


  • Anxiety disorders
  • Epidemiology
  • Quantitative trait
  • Unipolar depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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