Changes in heart rate variability of depressed patients after electroconvulsive therapy

Erica B. Royster, Lisa M. Trimble, George Cotsonis, Brian Schmotzer, Amita Manatunga, Natasha N. Rushing, Giuseppe Pagnoni, S. Freda Auyeung, Angelo R. Brown, Joel Schoenbeck, Smitha Murthy, William M. McDonald, Dominique L. Musselman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective. As few, small studies have examined the impact of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) upon the heart rate variability of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD), we sought to confirm whether ECT-associated improvement in depressive symptoms would be associated with increases in HRV linear and nonlinear parameters. Methods. After providing consent, depressed study participants (n = 21) completed the Beck Depression Index (BDI), and 15-minute Holter monitor recordings, prior to their 1st and 6th ECT treatments. Holter recordings were analyzed for certain HRV indices: root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD), low-frequency component (LF)/high-frequency component (HF) and short-(SD1) versus long-term (SD2) HRV ratios. Results. There were no significant differences in the HRV indices of RMSDD, LF/HF, and SD1/SD2 between the patients who responded, and those who did not, to ECT. Conclusion. In the short term, there appear to be no significant improvement in HRV in ECT-treated patients whose depressive symptoms respond versus those who do not. Future studies will reveal whether diminished depressive symptoms with ECT are reliably associated with improved sympathetic/parasympathetic balance over the long-term, and whether acute changes in sympathetic/parasympathetic balance predict improved mental- and cardiac-related outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number794043
JournalCardiovascular Psychiatry and Neurology
StatePublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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