Anxiety and depressive symptoms in childhood--a genetic study of comorbidity

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1997 Sep;38(6):651-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.1997.tb01692.x.


Anxiety and depressive symptoms commonly co-occur yet the underlying mechanisms for this covariation remain poorly understood. Genetic strategies are a useful means of investigating whether the comorbidity of two sets of symptoms or disorders can be explained by the same aetiological factors. In this paper we use a systematically ascertained sample of 172 twin pairs aged 8 to 16 years to examine the causes of covariation of maternally rated anxiety and depressive symptoms. The results suggest that most of the covariation can be explained by a common set of genes that influence anxiety and depressive symptoms. Some covariation between anxiety and depressive symptoms is also explained by environmental influences of the non-shared type. In addition, depressive symptoms also appear to be influenced by specific genetic factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / genetics*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / genetics*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Diseases in Twins / genetics*
  • Diseases in Twins / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic
  • Personality Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Twins, Dizygotic / genetics
  • Twins, Dizygotic / psychology
  • Twins, Monozygotic / genetics
  • Twins, Monozygotic / psychology
  • Wales