Depressive symptoms and attenuated physiological reactivity to laboratory stressors

Publication year: 2011
Source: Biological Psychology, In Press, Uncorrected Proof, Available online 14 June 2011

Andreas, Schwerdtfeger , Ann-Kathrin, Rosenkaimer

There is evidence that depressive symptoms are associated with attenuated physiological reactivity to active stressors. However, it is not known whether blunted reactivity in depressed individuals is stressor-specific. We examined cardiovascular and electrodermal reactivity in non-clinical participants with varying levels of depressive symptoms to different active and passive stressors. Depressive symptoms were inversely related to both blood pressure and skin conductance reactivity during a public speaking task and the viewing of the speech video. However, no effects were found during a cold pressor task. Together these findings suggest that depressive symptoms are related to attenuated sympathetic nervous system reactivity in…

 Highlights: ► We analyze cardiovascular and electrodermal reactivity to psychological and physical stress as related to depressive symptoms. ► Depressive symptoms are related to blunted cardiovascular and electrodermal reactivity to psychological stressors only. ► Attenuated physiological reactivity in depressed individuals depends on the self-relevance of the task.