Kristen Sparrow • January 01, 2023
This study sought to determine whether HRV measures, a measure of autonomic balance. corresponded to “internalizing symptoms” found in adolescents. Their conclusion was
“Results suggest that reduced HRV should be considered as a potential contributor to exacerbating internalizing symptoms in adolescence. Girls with reduced HRV and CC might be prone to the development of internalizing disorders. HRV is a promising tool for the early identification of vulnerability.
I would add that measures to improve heart rate variability such as exercise, meditation and of course acupuncture would result in lowered anxiety and less internalizing symptoms. I encouraged both of my girls to make sports a priority when they were in their teens and they both did in spite of the tax on their time. At the time I thought it would be good for their self-esteem. But in retrospect, I think it made them psychologically resilient also, since both of them have turned out great in spite of the usual trials and tribulations of adolescence.
Fiol-Veny A, De La Torre-Luque A, Balle M, Bornas X. Altered Heart Rate Regulation in Adolescent Girls and the Vulnerability for Internalizing Disorders. Front Physiol. 2018 Jul 9;9:852. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.00852. PMID: 30038579; PMCID: PMC6046384.
Background: The association between decreased heart rate variability (HRV) and increased internalizing symptoms is well documented. Adolescence is a critical period for the development of mental health problems, in particular internalizing symptoms. Previous research has illustrated sex differences in adolescent HRV, such that females have reduced short-term resting state HRV compared to males. Studies on long-term ecological recordings of HRV in adolescents are scarce. The aims of the present study were, (a) to test if adolescent females show decreased long-term HRV and cardiac complexity (CC) compared to males, and (b) to explore whether sex and HRV and CC measures, as well as their interaction, would predict internalizing symptoms.
Materials and Methods: HRV was recorded in n = 166 adolescents (86 girls), on a normal school day. HRV and CC measures were calculated on the interbeat interval time series.
Results: Females showed lower HRV and CC in most of the assessed indices. Internalizing symptoms were mainly predicted by HRV whereas sex only predicted symptoms of social anxiety. The interaction between sex and HRV did not predict internalizing symptoms.
Conclusions: Results suggest that reduced HRV should be considered as a potential contributor to exacerbating internalizing symptoms in adolescence. Girls with reduced HRV and CC might be prone to the development of internalizing disorders. HRV is a promising tool for the early identification of vulnerability.