Our group has recently become interested in the role that resilience may play in the development of, or protection from, the development of mood and anxiety disorders. We hypothesize that someone with high resilience will be relatively protected from the development of significant mood and anxiety disorders, even in the context of high levels of anxiety symptoms. Our studies on on resilience take place in conjunction with our studies of anxiety, which are currently based in Costa Rica. We are in the process of screening 5000 high school students ages 12-18 with measures of anxiety, depression, and resilience. All students will provide a saliva sample for genetic studies aimed at identifying the genetic bases of anxiety and resilience, and fifteen percent of these students will receive comprehensive neuropsychiatric interviews to examine the relationship between the results of the anxiety screen and the presence of anxiety disorders, depression, and other psychiatric problems. Ultimately, we hope to identify factors that predict both susceptibility to depression and anxiety, as well as factors that are related to protection from depression and anxiety (i.e., resilience).
Preliminary work in over 150 school children suggests a strong relationship between low psychological resilience and clinially significant anxiety. Additional work to confirm and extend these findings is ongoing.