In order to evaluate the hypothesis that one set of genetic risk factors may be common to disorders and dimensions of temperament, whereas environmental risk factors are disorder specific, we have conducted a genetic analysis of dimensions of temperament and symptoms of depression in about 201 pairs of monozygotic and dizygotic twins. Dimensions of temperament associated with novelty seeking, harm avoidance, reward dependence, and persistence were measured by using the Temperament and Character Instruments developed by Cloninger, and depressive symptoms were measured using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Differences among individuals on these measures can be explained by differences in their genes and in their environmental experiences. There are no differences between the sexes in gene action affecting temperament. Each dimension of temperament is genetically dependent, and genetic variations in symptoms of depression are largely dependent on the same factors that affect the temperament. Temperament is closely associated with vulnerability to depressive symptoms.
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