Personality profile in essential tremor: A case-control study

Mary Ann Thenganatt, Elan D. Louis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Background: Neuropsychiatric findings described in essential tremor (ET) include depression and anxiety. There may be personality features as well; in 2004, we demonstrated higher harm avoidance (HA) scores in ET patients than controls. We now (1) determined whether this finding could be replicated in a new sample of cases and controls, and (2) analyzed HA sub-scores (HA1-HA4) to further understand case-control differences. Design/Methods: 60 ET cases and 35 controls were evaluated using the Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire (TPQ), which assesses three domains of personality: HA, novelty seeking (NS), and reward dependence (RD). Results: Total HA and total NS scores were marginally higher in cases than controls (14.8 ± 7.6 vs. 12.4 ± 5.3, p = 0.09) and (13.8 ± 5.4 vs. 11.8 ± 4.9, p = 0.09), respectively. When adjusted for age and gender, cases and controls differed with respect to total HA score (p = 0.03) but not total NS score (p = 0.10). Further analysis of HA sub-scores demonstrated that HA1 (anticipatory worry and pessimism) and HA4 (fatigability and asthenia) were most robustly elevated in cases vs. controls (p = 0.04 and p = 0.01, respectively). Conclusions: This study suggests that ET cases have a personality profile characterized by a greater HA, with certain domains of HA most affected. It is unclear whether this personality profile is pre-morbid or is a co-morbid feature of the illness, nor it is known whether the greater tendency towards HA in ET lessens receptivity to deep brain stimulation surgery and other therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1042-1044
Number of pages3
JournalParkinsonism and Related Disorders
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Essential tremor
  • Movement disorders
  • Neuropsychiatric
  • Non-motor
  • Personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Clinical Neurology


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