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      Autonomic dysfunction and heart rate variability in depression.

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          Abstract

          Depression occurs in people of all ages across all world regions; it is the second leading cause of disability and its global burden increased by 37.5% between 1990 and 2010. Autonomic changes are often found in altered mood states and appear to be a central biological substrate linking depression to a number of physical dysfunctions. Alterations of autonomic nervous system functioning that promotes vagal withdrawal are reflected in reductions of heart rate variability (HRV) indexes. Reduced HRV characterizes emotional dysregulation, decreased psychological flexibility and defective social engagement, which in turn are linked to prefrontal cortex hypoactivity. Altogether, these pieces of evidence support the idea that HRV might represent a useful endophenotype for psychological/physical comorbidities, and its routine application should be advised to assess the efficacy of prevention/intervention therapies in a number of psychosomatic and psychiatric dysfunctions. Further research, also making use of appropriate animal models, could provide a significant support to this point of view and possibly help to identify appropriate antidepressant therapies that do not interefere with physical health.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Stress
          Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
          Informa Healthcare
          1607-8888
          1025-3890
          2015
          : 18
          : 3
          Affiliations
          [1 ] a Stress Physiology Laboratory, Department of Neuroscience , University of Parma , Parma , Italy and.
          [2 ] b Department of Neuroscience , Rehabilitation, Ophthalmology, Genetics, Maternal and Child Health (DINOGMI), Section of Psychiatry, University of Genova , Genova , Italy.
          Article
          10.3109/10253890.2015.1045868
          26004818

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