Table of Contents
Cardiovascular Psychiatry and Neurology
Volume 2012, Article ID 794043, 8 pages
Research Article

Changes in Heart Rate Variability of Depressed Patients after Electroconvulsive Therapy

1Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
2Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
3Center for Clinical Investigation, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA
4Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, 141100 Modena, Italy
5GE Healthcare, Wauwatosa, WI 53226, USA
6Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Mental Health Hospital Center, University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL 33136, USA

Received 30 March 2012; Revised 8 July 2012; Accepted 16 July 2012

Academic Editor: R. M. Carney

Copyright © 2012 Erica B. Royster et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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 = 2 1 ) 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.