High frequency heart-rate variability predicts adolescent depressive symptoms, particularly anhedonia, across one year

Academic Article


  • © 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. Background Few prospective studies examine the link between lower heart rate variability (HRV) and depression symptoms in adolescents. A recent animal model specifically links HRV to anhedonia, suggesting a potential translational model for human research. Method We investigated the association between spectral measures of resting HRV and depressive symptoms measured one year later, among 73 adolescents, aged 11-18 years. We evaluated (1) the predictive power of relative high frequency (HF) HRV, relative low frequency (LF) and relative very low frequency (VLF) HRV for depressive symptoms; and (2) the relative strength of association between HF HRV and depressive symptomatology (anhedonia, negative mood, interpersonal problems, ineffectiveness, negative self-esteem). Results HF HRV significantly predicted self-reported depressive symptoms across one year, controlling for age, puberty and sex. HF HRV was most strongly associated with anhedonia one year later, after considering other facets of depressive symptomatology. Conclusions Results provide support for the prospective relationship between relative HF HRV and depressive symptoms among adolescents across one year. Findings concur with rodent models that suggest a specific link between HF HRV and anhedonia. Limitations We investigated relative spectral power HF HRV and depressive symptom dimensions. We cannot make strong claims about these associations in clinical depression. Physical activity levels could be controlled in future work.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 19153330
  • Author List

  • Vazquez L; Blood JD; Wu J; Chaplin TM; Hommer RE; Rutherford HJV; Potenza MN; Mayes LC; Crowley MJ
  • Start Page

  • 243
  • End Page

  • 247
  • Volume

  • 196