Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 76
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Detweiler, Michael F. Comer, Jonathan S. and Albano, Anne Marie 2010. Social Anxiety.

    Harro, Jaanus and Kiive, Evelyn 2011. Droplets of black bile? Development of vulnerability and resilience to depression in young age. Psychoneuroendocrinology, Vol. 36, Issue. 3, p. 380.

    Lenroot, Rhoshel K. and Giedd, Jay N. 2011. Annual Research Review: Developmental considerations of gene by environment interactions. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol. 52, Issue. 4, p. 429.

    Zavos, Helena M.S. Eley, Thalia C. and Gregory, Alice M. 2012. The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of The Treatment of Childhood and Adolescent Anxiety.

    Thapar, Anita Collishaw, Stephan Pine, Daniel S and Thapar, Ajay K 2012. Depression in adolescence. The Lancet, Vol. 379, Issue. 9820, p. 1056.

    Waszczuk, M.A. Zavos, H.M.S. and Eley, T.C. 2013. Genetic and environmental influences on relationship between anxiety sensitivity and anxiety subscales in children. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, Vol. 27, Issue. 5, p. 475.

    Degnan, Kathryn A. Almas, Alisa N. and Fox, Nathan A. 2010. Temperament and the environment in the etiology of childhood anxiety. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol. 51, Issue. 4, p. 497.

    Trzaskowski, Maciej and Plomin, Robert 2015. Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences.

    de Geus, Eco 2010. Depression and Heart Disease.

    Rodas, N. V. Zeedyk, S. M. and Baker, B. L. 2016. Unsupportive parenting and internalising behaviour problems in children with or without intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research,

    Hallett, Victoria Ronald, Angelica Rijsdijk, Fruhling and Eley, Thalia C 2009. Phenotypic and genetic differentiation of anxiety-related behaviors in middle childhood. Depression and Anxiety, Vol. 26, Issue. 4, p. 316.

    POISSANT, J. and COLTMAN, D. W. 2009. The ontogeny of cross-sex genetic correlations: an analysis of patterns. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Vol. 22, Issue. 12, p. 2558.

    Hickie, Ian B. 2011. Youth mental health: we know where we are and we can now say where we need to go next. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, Vol. 5, p. 63.

    Detweiler, Michael F. Comer, Jonathan S. Crum, Kathleen I. and Albano, Anne Marie 2014. Social Anxiety.

    Bredemeier, Keith Beevers, Christopher G. and McGeary, John E. 2014. Serotonin transporter andBDNFpolymorphisms interact to predict trait worry. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, Vol. 27, Issue. 6, p. 712.

    Reuber, Markus 2009. The Etiology of Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures: Toward a Biopsychosocial Model. Neurologic Clinics, Vol. 27, Issue. 4, p. 909.

    Kendler, K.S. 2010. Genetic and environmental pathways to suicidal behavior: Reflections of a genetic epidemiologist. European Psychiatry, Vol. 25, Issue. 5, p. 300.

    Levy, Yonata 2011. Developmental Delay Revisited. Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, Vol. 17, Issue. 2, p. 180.

    Lau, Jennifer Y.F. and Eley, Thalia C. 2010. The Genetics of Mood Disorders. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, Vol. 6, Issue. 1, p. 313.

    Reuter, Martin Markett, Sebastian Melchers, Martin and Montag, Christian 2012. Interaction of the cholinergic system and the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis as a risk factor for depression. NeuroReport, Vol. 23, Issue. 12, p. 717.


A developmental twin study of symptoms of anxiety and depression: evidence for genetic innovation and attenuation

  • K. S. Kendler (a1) (a2) (a3), C. O. Gardner (a1) (a2) and P. Lichtenstein (a4)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 26 June 2008

Little is known about the pattern of genetic and environmental influences on symptoms of anxiety and depression (SxAnxDep) from childhood to early adulthood.


Parental- and self-reported levels of SxAnxDep were assessed at ages 8–9, 13–14, 16–17 and 19–20 years in 2508 twins from the Swedish Twin Study of Child and Adolescent Development (TCHAD). Analysis conducted using the Mx program included SxAnxDep by parental and self-report.


The best-fit model revealed one genetic risk factor for SxAnxDep acting at ages 8–9, 13–14, 16–17 and 19–20, and new sets of genetic risk factors ‘coming on line’ in early adolescence, late adolescence and early adulthood. Together, these genetic factors were very strong influences on the levels of SxAnxDep reported in common by parents and twins with heritability estimates, correcting for rater- and time-specific effects, ranging from 72% to 89%. The first genetic factor, which accounted for 72% of the variance in SxAnxDep at ages 8–9, attenuated sharply in influence, accounting for only 12% of the variance by ages 19–20. No evidence was found for shared environmental influences. Although not statistically significant, the correlation between genetic risk factors for SxAnxDep in males and females declined with advancing age.


Genetic effects on SxAnxDep are developmentally dynamic from middle childhood to young adulthood, demonstrating both genetic innovation and genetic attenuation. The attenuation might explain the low levels of continuity observed for anxiety and depressive disorders from childhood to adulthood. Differences in genetic risk factors for SxAnxDep in males and females may increase during development.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: K. S. Kendler, M.D., Department of Psychiatry, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA. (Email:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

TM Achenbach (1991 b). Manual for the Youth Self-Report and 1991 Profile. University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry: Burlington, VT.

H Akaike (1987). Factor analysis and AIC. Psychometrika 52, 317332.

A Angold , EJ Costello (2006). Puberty and depression. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America 15, 919937.

A Angold , EJ Costello , A Erkanli , CM Worthman (1999). Pubertal changes in hormone levels and depression in girls. Psychological Medicine 29, 10431053.

A Angold , EJ Costello , CM Worthman (1998). Puberty and depression: the roles of age, pubertal status and pubertal timing. Psychological Medicine 28, 5161.

DI Boomsma , CE van Beijsterveldt , JJ Hudziak (2005). Genetic and environmental influences on Anxious/Depression during childhood: a study from the Netherlands Twin Register. Genes, Brain and Behavior 4, 466481.

EJ Costello , HL Egger , A Angold (2005). The developmental epidemiology of anxiety disorders: phenomenology, prevalence, and comorbidity. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America 14, 631648.

C Edelbrock , R Rende , R Plomin , LA Thompson (1995). A twin study of competence and problem behavior in childhood and early adolescence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 36, 775785.

TC Eley , J Stevenson (1999). Exploring the covariation between anxiety and depression symptoms: a genetic analysis of the effects of age and sex. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 40, 12731282.

KS Kendler , CO Gardner , P Annas , MC Neale , LJ Eaves , P Lichtenstein (2008). A longitudinal twin study of fears from middle childhood to early adulthood: evidence for a developmentally dynamic genome. Archives of General Psychiatry 65, 421429.

KS Kendler , CO Gardner , MC Neale , CA Prescott (2001). Genetic risk factors for major depression in men and women: similar or different heritabilities and same or partly distinct genes? Psychological Medicine 31, 605616.

KS Kendler , M Gatz , C Gardner , N Pedersen (2006). A Swedish national twin study of lifetime major depression. American Journal of Psychiatry 163, 109114.

KS Kendler , A Heath , NG Martin , LJ Eaves (1986). Symptoms of anxiety and depression in a volunteer twin population. The etiologic role of genetic and environmental factors. Archives of General Psychiatry 43, 213221.

WD Killgore , M Oki , DA Yurgelun-Todd (2001). Sex-specific developmental changes in amygdala responses to affective faces. Neuroreport 12, 427433.

K Koshibu , P Levitt (2008). Gene×environment effects: stress and memory dysfunctions caused by stress and gonadal factor irregularities during puberty in control and TGF-alpha hypomorphic mice. Neuropsychopharmacology 33, 557565.

J Lasky-Su , HN Lyon , V Emilsson , IM Heid , C Molony , BA Raby , R Lazarus , B Klanderman , ME Soto-Quiros , L Avila , EK Silverman , G Thorleifsson , U Thorsteinsdottir , F Kronenberg , C Vollmert , T Illig , CS Fox , D Levy , N Laird , X Ding , MB McQueen , J Butler , K Ardlie , C Papoutsakis , G Dedoussis , CJ O'Donnell , HE Wichmann , JC Celedon , E Schadt , J Hirschhorn , ST Weiss , K Stefansson , C Lange (2008). On the replication of genetic associations: timing can be everything! American Journal of Human Genetics 82, 849858.

CG Last , S Perrin , M Hersen , AE Kazdin (1996). A prospective study of childhood anxiety disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 35, 15021510.

KE Markon , RF Krueger (2004). An empirical comparison of information-theoretic selection criteria for multivariate behavior genetic models. Behavioral Genetics 34, 593610.

MC Neale , E Roysamb , K Jacobson (2006). Multivariate genetic analysis of sex limitation and G×E interaction. Twin Research and Human Genetics 9, 481489.

TG O'Connor , JM Neiderhiser , D Reiss , EM Hetherington , R Plomin (1998). Genetic contributions to continuity, change, and co-occurrence of antisocial and depressive symptoms in adolescence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 39, 323336.

LG Ost , PDA Treffers (2001). Onset, course, and outcome for anxiety disorders in children. In Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents: Research, Assessment and Intervention (ed. W. K. Silverman and P. D. A. Treffers ), pp. 293312. Cambridge University Press: NY, New York.

F Rice , GT Harold , A Thapar (2002). Assessing the effects of age, sex and shared environment on the genetic aetiology of depression in childhood and adolescence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines 43, 10391051.

G Schwarz (1978). Estimating the dimension of a model. Annual Statistics 6, 461464.

J Scourfield , F Rice , A Thapar , GT Harold , N Martin , P McGuffin (2003). Depressive symptoms in children and adolescents: changing aetiological influences with development. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines 44, 968976.

JL Silberg , M Rutter , L Eaves (2001). Genetic and environmental influences on the temporal association between earlier anxiety and later depression in girls. Biological Psychiatry 49, 10401049.

M Steiner , E Dunn , L Born (2003). Hormones and mood: from menarche to menopause and beyond. Journal of Affective Disorders 74, 6783.

A Thapar , P McGuffin (1994). A twin study of depressive symptoms in childhood. British Journal of Psychiatry 165, 259265.

TD Topolski , JK Hewitt , LJ Eaves , JL Silberg , JM Meyer , M Rutter , A Pickles , E Simonoff (1997). Genetic and environmental influences on child reports of manifest anxiety and symptoms of separation anxiety and overanxious disorders: a community-based twin study. Behavioral Genetics 27, 1528.

DJ Toufexis , KM Myers , M Davis (2006). The effect of gonadal hormones and gender on anxiety and emotional learning. Hormones and Behavior 50, 539549.

JM Twenge , S Nolen-Hoeksema (2002). Age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, and birth cohort differences on the children's depression inventory: a meta-analysis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 111, 578588.

MM Weissman , S Wolk , P Wickramaratne , RB Goldstein , P Adams , S Greenwald , ND Ryan , RE Dahl , D Steinberg (1999). Children with prepubertal-onset major depressive disorder and anxiety grown up. Archives of General Psychiatry 56, 794801.

L Williams , P Holahan (1994). Parsimony-based fit indices for multiple-indicator models: do they work? Structural Equation Modeling 1, 161189.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary Materials

Kendler Supplementary Material

 Unknown (48 KB)
48 KB