Late Teen Emotional Stability Inversely Tied to Mental Illness

HealthDay News — Emotional stability assessed in late adolescence is inversely associated with serious mental illness (SMI), according to a study published online in JAMA Psychiatry.

Joseph F. Hayes, MB, ChB, from University College London, and colleagues conducted a longitudinal study to examine the correlation for the adolescent personality domains of social maturity, mental energy, and emotional stability with later diagnosis of SMI. Swedish male military conscripts aged 18 to 19 years were enrolled from Jan. 1, 1974, through Dec. 31, 1997.

Of the 1,017,691 men included in the cohort, the researchers found that 4310 developed bipolar disorder, 784 developed schizoaffective disorder, 4823 developed schizophrenia, and 5013 developed other nonaffective psychoses. Low social maturity, low mental energy, and low emotional stability were inversely associated with schizophrenia in a dose-dependent manner after adjustment, with use of mean scores as a reference (hazard ratios, 1.61, 1.34, and 1.51, respectively). A similar pattern was seen for other nonaffective psychoses. There were correlations for bipolar disorder with high and low social maturity (hazard ratios, 1.21 and 1.12, respectively) and low emotional stability (hazard ratio, 1.62). There was a correlation for schizoaffective disorder with low emotional stability (hazard ratio, 1.53).

“Emotional stability is inversely associated with all SMI. Bipolar disorder has a unique U-shaped association with social maturity,” the authors write. “Personality dimensions may therefore be useful in understanding SMI endophenotypes, and future research should focus on shared genetic influences on personality and SMI.”

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Hayes JF, Osborn DPJ, Lewis G, Dalman C, Lundin A. Association of Late Adolescent Personality With Risk for Subsequent Serious Mental Illness Among Men in a Swedish Nationwide Cohort Study [published online May 17, 2017]. JAMA Psychiatry. 2017; doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.0583.