Socioemotional Functioning in Depression

University of Edinburgh, and Royal Edinburgh Hospital
DOI: 10.1002/9780470696385.ch4 In book: Mood Disorders: A Handbook of Science and Practice, pp.61 - 77
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    ABSTRACT: Rapidly developing research has found abnormal cardiac vagal control (CVC) in several physical and mental health conditions. CVC findings in depression are mixed, and the degree to which CVC is compromised in depression is unclear. A meta-analysis of 13 rigorous cross-sectional studies reveals that a diagnosis of depression exerts a small-to-medium effect size on CVC, and explains only about 2% of the overall variance in CVC. More robust data may emerge from alternative approaches to the depression-CVC relationship, such as the use of CVC to predict the course of the disorder. Despite the vigor of recent work on CVC and depression, overall findings are suggestive rather than conclusive. Methodological desiderata and priorities for future research are discussed, including the need to clarify the etiological significance of CVC.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2007 · Biological Psychology
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    ABSTRACT: Cardiac vagal control, as measured by indices of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), has been investigated as a marker of impaired self-regulation in mental disorders, including depression. Past work in depressed samples has focused on deficits in resting RSA levels, with mixed results. This study tested the hypothesis that depression involves abnormal RSA fluctuation. RSA was measured in depressed and healthy control participants during rest and during two reactivity tasks, each followed by a recovery period. Relative to controls, depressed persons exhibited lower resting RSA levels as well as less RSA fluctuation, primarily evidenced by a lack of task-related vagal suppression. Group differences in RSA fluctuation were not accounted for by differences in physical health or respiration, whereas group differences in resting RSA level did not survive covariate analyses. Depression may involve multiple deficits in cardiac vagal control.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2007 · Psychophysiology
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