Personality--life event congruence effects in late-life depression.
BACKGROUND: This study examined whether specific interactions of personality and life events predicted increases in depressive symptoms over time in a late-life sample. METHOD: Participants (n=55) who were in remission from a recent episode of major depression completed a depression symptom interview and a questionnaire assessing the personality constructs sociotropy and autonomy. Six months later, they completed the same personality questionnaire and a checklist of life events experienced during the past 6 months. RESULTS: As predicted, increases in depressive symptoms were significantly predicted by the congruent interaction of sociotropy with negative interpersonal events and by the congruent interaction of autonomy with negative autonomy events, but not by either of the non-congruent interactions. LIMITATIONS: A small sample prevented examinations of important depressive subtypes based on age of depression onset and vascular status. CONCLUSIONS: These findings strongly support the personality-life event congruence model of depression in a late-life sample. Clinical implications include attending to stressful events that match an older adult's personality style, to help the older adult cope with those events that are more likely to increase his or her depression.
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