Heart rate (HR) and its variability (HRV) has been proposed as a marker for depressive symptoms and other aspects of mental health. However, the real correlation between them is presently uncertain, as previous studies have generally been conducted on the basis of small samples. In a sample of 113 adult male prisoners, we analyzed correlations between five measures of HR/HRV and five psychological measures of mental health aspects (depression, state and trait anxiety, and social relationships). We used Nadaraya-Watson non-parametric regression in both directions and age-stratified Spearman correlation to detect possible relations. Despite strong correlations among HR/HRV measures and among psychological measures, correlations between HR/HRV and psychological measures were low and non-significant for the overall sample. However, we found an age dependency, suggesting some correlations in younger people (HR with STAI-State, r = 0.39; with HADS-Anxiety, r = 0.52; both p < .005). Overall, the general utility of HR/HRV as a marker for mental health across populations remains unclear. Future research should address age and other potential confounders more consistently.

Direct Link: https://arxiv.org/abs/1501.05842v1

Journal: arXiv preprint arXiv:1501.05842. 2015 Jan 22

Keywords: anxiety, biomarkers, clinical endpoints, Depression, heart rate variability, mental health, prisoners, social relationships,

Applications: HRV,

CamNtech Reference: AH15062

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