Seasonal mood change and neuroticism: the same construct?

Compr Psychiatry. 1999 Nov-Dec;40(6):415-7. doi: 10.1016/s0010-440x(99)90083-4.


The personality trait of neuroticism has been found to be associated with a polymorphism in the regulatory region of the serotonin (5-HT) transporter gene (5-HTTLPR). This same genetic polymorphism has also been associated with seasonal changes in mood and behavior, or seasonality. The purpose of the current study was to determine whether seasonality and neuroticism are actually the same construct given that they are both associated with the same genetic polymorphism. We administered the Seasonal Pattern Assessment Questionnaire (SPAQ), which measures the severity of seasonality, and the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R), which measures the severity of neuroticism, to 45 subjects diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a clinical expression of seasonality in which patients develop a major depressive disorder in the winter that remits in the summer and can be treated with light therapy. No significant correlation was found between neuroticism and seasonality. We conclude that seasonality and neuroticism are not the same construct, even though the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism is a genetic risk factor for each.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biological Transport, Active / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurotic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Neurotic Disorders / genetics*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Phototherapy
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder / diagnosis
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder / genetics*
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder / therapy
  • Serotonin / genetics
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Serotonin