Stressful life events and depressive symptoms in young adolescents: Modulation by respiratory sinus arrhythmia? The TRAILS study

Bosch, N., Riese, H., Ormel, J., Verhulst, F. & Oldehinkel, A. J., Apr-2009, In : Biological Psychology. 81, 1, p. 40-47 8 p.

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Background: Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) has been proposed as a physiological marker of emotion-regulation capacity, and shown to be cross-sectionally associated with depression. Little is known about the role of RSA as a predictor of (subclinical) depressive symptoms over time and as a modifier of the depressogenic effect of stressful life events (SLEs).

Methods: In a longitudinal population-based study with data collected in 1653 adolescents twice (at age 11 and 13.5 years, respectively), RSA was assessed in supine position at the first assessment wave. Depressive symptoms were assessed at both waves and SLEs experienced between the two waves at the last wave.

Results: Low levels of RSA were not associated with concurrent or future depressive symptoms, and did not enhance the depressogenic effects of SLEs.

Conclusions: In a normal population of young adolescents, a low level of RSA does not identify adolescents at risk for depressive symptoms when confronted with SLEs. In post hoc analyses, among those reporting high exposure to stressful life events, higher RSA tended to predict less self-reported anxiety and more self-reported somatic symptoms as compared to those with lower RSA. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-47
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2009


  • Stressful life events, Depression, Respiratory sinus arrhythmia, Self regulation, Emotion regulation, Vagal tone, Adolescence, Heart rate variability, Longitudinal, Anxiety, Somatic symptoms, HEART-RATE-VARIABILITY, CARDIAC VAGAL TONE, MAJOR DEPRESSION, EMOTION REGULATION, MARITAL CONFLICT, POLYVAGAL THEORY, GENDER-DIFFERENCES, AUTONOMIC BALANCE, NERVOUS-SYSTEM, NATURAL COURSE

ID: 2000799