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Int J Behav Med. 2004;11(2):81-7.

Depressive symptoms and cardiovascular reactivity to laboratory behavioral stress.

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Center of Psychological Studies, Nova Southeastern University, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33314, USA.


Although a growing literature associates depressive symptoms with cardiovascular disease (CVD), the mechanisms underlying this association have not been clearly determined. The cardiovascular reactivity (CVR) hypothesis suggests that chronically elevated CVR during psychological distress can confer disease risk via vascular alterations. This investigation is a quantitative review of studies that evaluated the association of depressive symptoms with CVR. A total of 60 hypotheses were tested: 21 tests involved systolic blood pressure (SBP), 21 involved diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and 18 involved heart rate (HR). The aggregate effect size for the relation between depressive symptoms and HR reactivity was moderate (d = 0.37); aggregate effect sizes were small for SBP reactivity (d = 0.13) and DBP reactivity (d = 0.17). Effect sizes involving SBP reactivity were homogenous, whereas effect sizes involving DBP and HR reactivity were higher for studies that examined participants with CVD. These findings provide partial support for the associations of depressive symptoms with CVR.

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