A genetically informative analysis of the association between dyadic adjustment, depressive symptoms, and anxiety symptoms

Mark A. Whisman, Alta du Pont, Soo Hyun Rhee, Erica L. Spotts, Paul Lichtenstein, Jody M. Ganiban, David Reiss, Jenae M. Neiderhiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Prior research has found a reliable and robust association between poor dyadic (e.g., marital) adjustment and depression and anxiety. However, it is possible that this association may be due, at least in part, to confounding variables (i.e., variables that are causally associated both with marital adjustment and psychopathology and could account for their covariation). The present study was conducted using a genetically informative sample of twins to examine the association between dyadic adjustment and symptoms of depression and anxiety, accounting for unmeasured genetic and shared environmental confounds. Methods: A Swedish sample of monozygotic and dizygotic twins (218 female twin pairs and 321 male twin pairs) and their spouse or long-term partner completed self-report measures of dyadic adjustment, depressive symptoms, and anxiety symptoms. Results: Results suggest that dyadic adjustment was significantly and negatively associated with depressive symptoms and anxiety symptoms in twins, and nonshared environmental influences largely accounted for this association. Furthermore, results obtained from partners’ reports of dyadic adjustment were largely consistent with those obtained from twins’ reports, suggesting that results were not a function of shared method variance. Limitations: Longitudinal research in genetically informative samples would provide a stronger test of the causal association between dyadic adjustment and psychopathology. Conclusions: The pattern of findings suggest that common nonshared environmental influences, such as partners’ characteristics, may lead to poorer dyadic adjustment and depression and anxiety. Therefore, couple-based interventions that improve dyadic adjustment may be effective in preventing and treating psychopathology in relationship partners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-26
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume237
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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