Heart rate variability in patients with fully remitted major depressive disorder

Hsin An Chang, Chuan Chia Chang, Chih Lun Chen, Terry B.J. Kuo, Ru Band Lu, San Yuan Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Objective Cardiac autonomic dysregulation has been reported in major depressive disorder (MDD), but scarce studies investigated that in fully remitted MDD. Methods To examine cardiac autonomic function in remitted MDD, 470 unmedicated individuals with a diagnosis of MDD earlier in life and 462 healthy volunteers, aged 18-65 years, were recruited for a case-control analysis. Cardiac autonomic function was evaluated by measuring heart rate variability (HRV) parameters. Frequency-domain indices of HRV were obtained. The obtained results were evaluated in association with personality traits assessed by the Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire. Results In patients with remitted MDD, no differences in RR intervals and all frequency-domain indices of HRV could be detected as compared with controls. Stratified analyses by the presence of a history of suicide ideation (the SI+ vs. the SI-subgroup) revealed decreased cardiac vagal control in the SI+ subgroup. The correlation analysis revealed an inverse relation between HRV levels and the harm avoidance score (which has been suggested to be associated with serotonergic activity), mainly attributable to the robust association in the SI+ subgroup. Conclusion Our study shows that cardiac autonomic dysregulation is not shown in remitted MDD patients as a whole but is limited to the subgroup of remitted MDD patients with a history of suicidal ideation. In view of the higher risk for cardiac complications in these vulnerable individuals, one might consider the treatment to restore their autonomic function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-42
Number of pages10
JournalActa Neuropsychiatrica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • cardiac autonomic function
  • heart rate variability
  • major depression
  • remission
  • suicide ideation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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