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Psychophysiology. 2005 May;42(3):277-81.

Vagal withdrawal to a sad film predicts subsequent recovery from depression.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620-7200, USA. jrottenb@cas.usf.edu


Cardiac vagal tone, as indexed by abnormalities in the level and/or reactivity of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), has been related to psychiatric impairment, including risk for depression. Longitudinal studies of depression have focused on RSA levels and have found mixed support for the hypothesis that low RSA levels predict a more pernicious course of depression. The current investigation focuses on the relation between RSA reactivity and the course of depression. We measured depressed persons' RSA reactivity to sadness-, fear-, and amusement-inducing emotion films and reassessed participants' diagnostic status 6 months later. Depressed persons who exhibited a higher degree of vagal withdrawal to the sad film were more likely to recover from depression. Implications for the study of RSA in depression are discussed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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