BACKGROUND: The FMR1 premutation, caused by a CGG trinucleotide repeat expansion on the FMR1 gene, has been identified as a genetic risk factor for mood and anxiety disorders. Building on recent studies identifying increased risk for mood and affective disorders in this population, we examined effects of potential protective factors (optimism, religion, hope) on depression and anxiety diagnoses in a prospective, longitudinal cohort.
METHODS: Eighty-three women with the FMR1 premutation participated in the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR Disorders at two-time points, 3 years apart. Participants also completed measures of optimism, religion, personal faith, hope, and child and family characteristics. We used logistic regression to examine correlates of major depressive disorder (MDD) and anxiety disorders at the initial assessment, as well as predictors of the diagnostic course over time.
RESULTS: Lower optimism and higher religious participation relevant to fragile X syndrome at the initial assessment were associated with a lifetime history of MDD. Lower optimism also predicted the occurrence and reoccurrence of an anxiety disorder 3 years later.
CONCLUSIONS: In women with the FMR1 premutation, elevated optimism may reduce the occurrence or severity of MDD and anxiety disorders. These findings underscore the importance of supporting mental health across the FMR1 spectrum of involvement.