Factors differentiating personalitydisordered individuals with and without a history of unipolar mood disorder

Scott Bunce, Emil Coccaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The relationship between mood disorders and personality disorders has been of longstanding interest to clinicians. Despite theoretical reasons to do so, virtually no studies have examined factors that discriminate personality-disordered subjects with a history of mood disorder (PD/HMD) from personality-disordered subjects without a history of mood disorder (PD). This study examined demographic variables, patterns of comorbidity, measures of life functioning, personality traits, and early life experiences differentiating PD/HMD (n = 83) from PD (n = 214). Diagnoses were assigned using structured clinical interviews and a best-estimate procedure. The results suggest that subjects with borderline personality disorder are more likely to have a life history of mood disorder than are subjects with other personality disorders. In addition, PD/ HMDs are more likely to receive a diagnosis of anxiety disorder or alcoholism, to have lower Global Assessment of Functioning (GAP) scores, and to have sought treatment than PDs. On self-report measures of personality, PD/ HMDs endorse higher levels offrait anxiety and affective lability (e.g., Harm Avoidance, Neuroticism) than do PDs. PD/HMDs are also more likely to report childhood physical and emotional abuse than are PDs, and to describe their parents as using affectionless control. No differences were found between Axis II clusters as a function of mood disorder histoty. The discussion suggests a potential model in which early environmental stress interacts with constitutional vulnerabilities to put individuals at an increased risk for both mood and anxiety disorders as well as personality disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-157
Number of pages11
JournalDepression and anxiety
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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