Heart rate variability during rest and stress in trauma patients with dissociative symptoms. An explorative study
The aim for this explorative study is to investigate the relationship between dissociation and a psychophysiological measure, namely Heart Rate Variability. Dissociation can be understood as a continuum ranging from non-pathological to pathological phenomena. In adverse circumstances, dissociation can serve as a coping strategy. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) refers to the variation in beat-to-beat intervals in the heart. As heart rate is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, HRV measurement is considered as a measure of autonomous regulation. A high HRV is associated with good physical and mental health, the opposite is true for low HRV. Method: 41 patients from Modum bad`s outpatient trauma clinic participated. They were 2 males and 39 females, ranging in age from 22 to 59 years (mean age = 35.8 years, SD=9.7). Dissociative symptoms were assessed using the Multidimensional Inventory of Dissociation (MID). HRV measurements were obtained across four conditions (rest, mild stress, stress and cool-down). Results: We found a negative relationship between dissociative symptoms and HRV. This relationship was the strongest in the rest condition. Conclusion: Our findings confirm the psychophysiological nature of dissociation. Efforts to improve health can be directed at increasing HRV or decreasing dissociative symptoms. Learning better affect regulation skills through meditation or mindfulness-based therapy may be a way to combine these approaches. More research is needed to investigate whether such treatment is appropriate for patients with dissociative symptoms.
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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