Depression is a severe mental disorder, whose onset has been related to environmental, genetic and personality factors. This study examined the association between impulsivity and incidence of depression. Logistic regression models were related to prospective data from two surveys (2-year time lag) conducted in a large cohort of hospital employees (N = 4,505). Only respondents with no history of depression at baseline were included. Impulsivity was predictive of the onset of depression (OR = 1.95, CI 95% = 1.28-2.97) after adjustment for age, sex and education. This association remained statistically significant after additional adjustment for a variety of baseline characteristics, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and size of social network. A measure of mental distress (GHQ-12 responses), which may serve as a proxy measure for undiagnosed depression, was also associated with impulsivity. Impulsivity appears to be a distinct personality factor that may contribute to the onset of depressive illness in adults.
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