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The effects of stress–tension on depression and anxiety symptoms: evidence from a novel twin modelling analysis

  • C. G. Davey (a1) (a2) (a3), C. López-Solà (a4) (a5), M. Bui (a6), J. L. Hopper (a6) (a7), C. Pantelis (a3), L. F. Fontenelle (a8) (a9) (a10) and B. J. Harrison (a3)...
  • Please note a correction has been issued for this article.



Negative mood states are composed of symptoms of depression and anxiety, and by a third factor related to stress, tension and irritability. We sought to clarify the nature of the relationships between the factors by studying twin pairs.


A total of 503 monozygotic twin pairs completed the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS), an instrument that assesses symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress–tension. We applied a recently developed twin regression methodology – Inference about Causation from Examination of FAmiliaL CONfounding (ICE FALCON) – to test for evidence consistent with the existence of ‘causal’ influences between the DASS factors.


There was evidence consistent with the stress–tension factor having a causal influence on both the depression (p < 0.0001) and anxiety factors (p = 0.001), and for the depression factor having a causal influence on the anxiety factor (p < 0.001).


Our findings suggest a critical role for stress–tension in the structure of negative mood states, and that interventions that target it may be particularly effective in reducing depression and anxiety symptoms.


Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: C. Davey, Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, 35 Poplar Road, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia. (Email:


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The effects of stress–tension on depression and anxiety symptoms: evidence from a novel twin modelling analysis

  • C. G. Davey (a1) (a2) (a3), C. López-Solà (a4) (a5), M. Bui (a6), J. L. Hopper (a6) (a7), C. Pantelis (a3), L. F. Fontenelle (a8) (a9) (a10) and B. J. Harrison (a3)...
  • Please note a correction has been issued for this article.


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