Personality and depression: explanatory models and review of the evidence

Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2011;7:269-95. doi: 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032210-104540.


Understanding the association between personality and depression has implications for elucidating etiology and comorbidity, identifying at-risk individuals, and tailoring treatment. We discuss seven major models that have been proposed to explain the relation between personality and depression, and we review key methodological issues, including study design, the heterogeneity of mood disorders, and the assessment of personality. We then selectively review the extensive empirical literature on the role of personality traits in depression in adults and children. Current evidence suggests that depression is linked to traits such as neuroticism/negative emotionality, extraversion/positive emotionality, and conscientiousness. Moreover, personality characteristics appear to contribute to the onset and course of depression through a variety of pathways. Implications for prevention and prediction of treatment response are discussed, as well as specific considerations to guide future research on the relation between personality and depression.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Behavioral Research / methods
  • Child
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Personality Assessment
  • Personality*
  • Temperament