A dual vulnerability hypothesis for seasonal depression is supported by the seasonal pattern assessment questionnaire in relation to the temperament and character inventory of personality in a general population.
BACKGROUND: Personality structure obtained from the psychobiological Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) was studied in relation to self-reported seasonal variations in mood and behavior measured by the Seasonal Pattern Assessment Questionnaire (SPAQ). METHODS: The subjects comprised 1761 adults (57.6% women) in the age range 35-85 years, enrolled in the Betula prospective random cohort study of Umea, Sweden. RESULTS: Personality profiles of subjects who reported the occurrence of a high degree of seasonal variation as such were associated with a combination of high self-transcendence (ST) and high persistence (PS), irrespective of the level of harm avoidance (HA). Subjects who reported feeling worst in winter were associated with high HA, irrespective of the levels of ST and PS. Also, subjects feeling worst in summer or experiencing overall problems with seasonal variation were associated with high HA in their personality profiles. Using the SPAQ criteria to define seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or subsyndromal SAD (S-SAD), subjects with these disorders often had combinations of high self-transcendence (ST) and high persistence (PS), but with different associations with HA. LIMITATIONS: No evaluations were made for SAD or subsyndromal SAD according to the DSM-IV or ICD 10 criteria. CONCLUSIONS: Our results relating SPAQ with TCI give support for a dual vulnerability hypothesis for seasonal depression proposed in the literature, where it is attributed to a combination of a seasonal factor and a depression factor. Examining the literature regarding the relationships between the different TCI scales and monoamine neurotransmitter functions, those relationships suggest that these two vulnerability factors for seasonal depression may be modulated by different neurotransmitter systems.