Previous studies suggest depression is a risk factor for all cause mortality, with depressed men at greater risk than depressed women. Diminished cardiac vagal control (CVC) in depressed patients has also been found to increase risk of cardiac mortality. Previous research found that depressed women have higher CVC than depressed men suggesting CVC might be related to the discrepancy in mortality rates between depressed men and women. This finding, however, was in the context of a study with several methodological weaknesses. The current study sought to replicate the sex difference in CVC in a sample of 137 medically healthy and clinically diagnosed depressed patients. Main effects of sex and age significantly predicted CVC such that depressed women had greater CVC and CVC decreased with age in the cross-sectional sample. The results suggest greater CVC in depressed women might confer cardioprotective functions, which may partially explain the sex difference in mortality rates in the depressed population.
- Heart period variability
- Major depression
- Sex differences
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology