Enjoying your life and avoiding or getting over depression is dependent on the “big 5 personality traits” according to UCLA researchers. These five traits are:
- a lack of excessive nervousness (neuroticism)
- the ability to be sociable and connect with other people (extroversion)
- the ability to cooperate with and get along with others pleasantly (agreeableness)
- the ability to be mindful and aware of others needs without care-taking them (conscientiousness)
- the ability to be open and speak about how you feel without shame or embarrassment (openness)
Depressed and anxious people typically have a deficit in one or more of the big 5. Until this study came out researchers believed that these personality traits got set fairly early in life and only changed slowly through working on yourself in psychotherapy and other self-improvement activities. People make definite progress in psychotherapy but the complaint has always been that it is a slow process. Good psychotherapy typically takes years to reverse the effects of depression and anxiety in adults caused by childhood issues.
What this study suggests is that antidepressants may also help alter the big 5 for the better. Prior to this study researchers believed that the drugs just altered mood but had no effect on the Big 5. This study suggests that by altering brain chemistry of the depressed or anxious person, they are able to make improvements in the “Big 5” areas that are permanent. This is good news for trauma survivors who have struggled with the depression and anxiety for much of their adult life in spite of their hard work in psychotherapy.
You can read more of about this study in the Denver Post at:The Big 5 Personality Traits for Happiness by Larry Cappel,