Parasympathetic nervous system activity predicts mood repair use and its effectiveness among adolescents with and without histories of major depression

Ilya Yaroslavsky, Jonathan Rottenberg, Lauren M. Bylsma, J. Richard Jennings, Charles George, Ildikó Baji, István Benák, Roberta Dochnal, Kitti Halas, Krisztina Kapornai, Enikõ Kiss, Attila Makai, Hedvig Varga, Ágnes Vetró

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


Depressive disorders that onset in the juvenile years have been linked to Far-Reaching adverse consequences, making it imperative to elucidate key mechanisms and contributory factors. Excessive use of regulatory responses that exacerbate sadness (maladaptive mood repair) or insufficient use of regulatory responses that reduce it (adaptive mood repair) may reflect behavioral mechanisms of depression risk. Cardiac vagal control, indexed by patterns of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), has received attention as a putative physiological risk factor for depression. Although mood repair and RSA are related, the nature of this relationship is not well characterized in the context of depression risk. Therefore, we tested alternative models of the relationships between RSA patterns (at rest and in response to a sad film), trait mood repair, and the effectiveness of a mood repair response in the laboratory (state mood repair) among adolescents with depression histories (n=210) and emotionally healthy peers (n=161). In our data, a mediation model best explained the association between the key constructs: Adolescents with normative RSA patterns exhibited lower levels of depression and trait maladaptive mood repair, and benefited more from instructed (state) mood repair in the laboratory. By contrast, adolescents with atypical RSA patterns exhibited higher levels of depression and dispositional maladaptive mood repair, which, in turn, mediated the relations of RSA patterns and depression symptoms. Atypical RSA patterns also predicted reduced benefits from laboratory mood repair. General Scientific Summary: Results of this study suggest that patterns of parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) activity are related to depression symptoms and the use and effectiveness of regulatory responses to dysphoric affect. We found that atypical patterns of PNS activity predict the use of ineffective affect regulatory responses that, in turn, predict depression. Atypical PNS patterns also relate to reduced ability to attenuate sadness in the laboratory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2016



  • Adolescense
  • Depression
  • Emotion regulation
  • Mood repair
  • Respiratory sinus arrhythmia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

Cite this