The link between Personality and Heart Attacks

Posted on July 9, 2014

A new study published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics has addressed the relationship between personality and heart attacks. Distressed (type D) personality (TDP), characterized by high negative affectivity (NA) and social inhibition (SI), along with depression, anxiety and other negative affects (such as demoralization, hopelessness, pessimism and rumination) have been implicated as potential risk factors for coronary artery disease.

In this study, Authors aimed to clarify whether, among never depressed patients at their first acute coronary syndrome (ACS), there is an overlap between the constructs of Type D Personality and depression, evaluating the stability of negative affectivity and social inhibition 6 months after the ACS, and their relationship with depressive symptoms.

During the follow-up period 30 patients developed depressive symptoms, whereas 220 subjects maintained a non-depressive condition throughout the study period. At baseline the negative affectivity and social inhibition levels were higher in subjects who developed depression than in patients who did not.

However, at the baseline evaluation 19 patients without previous depressive episodes already satisfied the criteria for mild depression. Interestingly, at baseline these subjects showed higher levels of negative affectivity and social inhibition than subjects without mild depression. Among patients who developed depression HADS scores significantly changed during the 6-month follow-up: both anxiety and depression scores increased from baseline to the second month of follow-up and then decreased. The same pattern of change was observed for the negative affectivity score, whereas the social inhibition score did not vary during follow-up.

In non-depressed patients, both HADS depression and anxiety scores and NA score significantly decreased throughout the follow-period, whereas the SI did not change.

In this study, the overlap between depressive psychopathology and NA features is suggested by the course of these two dimensions over time. Indeed, in both depressed and nondepressed patients, NA levels were not stable during the 6-month follow-up, but they changed along with the variation of HADS scores. This finding suggests that the NA dimension is sensitive to mood-state, because its levels increase and decrease according to the fluctuation of severity of depressive and anxious symptoms.

Category(s):Health / Illness / Medical Issues

Source material from Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics