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Biol Psychol. 2007 Jan;74(1):20-5. Epub 2006 Jul 24.

The effects of depressive symptoms on cardiovascular and catecholamine responses to the induction of depressive mood.

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Psychobiology Group, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, UK.


We examined the effects of depressive symptoms on cardiovascular and catecholamine responses to the induction of different mood states. Fifty-five healthy men and women (mean age 23.4 +/- 3 years) were recruited. Depressive symptoms were evaluated using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and participants were classified into high depressive (CES-D*16) or low depressive symptoms (CES-D < 16) groups. Following a baseline period, participants were required to complete two separate speech tasks where they were asked to recall life events that made them feel angry or depressed. The tasks were separated by a 30-min recovery period and the order was randomised between participants using a counterbalanced design. Cardiovascular function was monitored continuously using a Finometer device and saliva was collected for the assessment of 3-methoxy-phenylglycol (MHPG, the major metabolite of norephinephrine). Blood pressure (BP), heart rate, and total peripheral resistance (TPR) were significantly increased in response to both tasks (p = .001). Averaged over conditions, higher diastolic BP and higher MHPG levels were observed in high depressive symptoms participants. MHPG levels did not change in response to mood induction in the low depressive symptoms group. However, the high depression symptoms group showed significantly higher levels of MHPG during recovery from the depressed mood induction task and increased levels immediately after the anger induction task. These findings suggest depressive symptoms are associated with heightened central adrenergic activation during negative mood induction, but that the time course of responses is dependent on the type of emotion elicited.

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