From the Journals

Heart rate variability may be risk factor for depression, not a consequence



By contrast, the current study evaluated depression and heart rate variability at two time points: a baseline assessment conducted during 2002-2006 and a at a 7-year follow-up visit.

Investigators found consistent associations between heart rate variability on 24-hour electrocardiogram monitoring at baseline and scores on the Beck Depression Inventory-II at the 7-year follow-up, with beta coefficients ranging from –0.14 to –0.29, the report showed.

By contrast, the associations were less consistent between BDI-II score at the baseline visit and heart rate variability at follow-up, the investigators said. “These associations were largely explained by antidepressant use, which when added to the model, weakened the associations.”

These findings may help guide future research aimed at identifying individuals at a higher risk of later depression, the authors said, noting that treatment studies also are warranted. “Future interventions modulating autonomic nervous system regulation may be useful for the prevention and treatment of depression.” The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health. The Department of Veterans Affairs has supported the Vietnam Era Twin Registry. The researchers had no conflicts of interest.

SOURCE: Huang M et al. JAMA Psychiatry. 2018 May 16. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.0747.


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