The cognitions of individuals who experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress have been well documented, but their physiological reactions have not. The present study examines the physiological reactions of individuals with elevated levels of depression, anxiety, and stress during a self-critical and self-compassionate writing exercise to see if there is a difference in comparison to healthy participants. This study is a secondary analysis of data that was collected from a randomized controlled trial where participants followed a protocol. This protocol consisted of a 5-minute baseline, a 10-minute breathing exercise or nature video, 5-minutes of a self-critical writing exercise, 5-minutes of a self-compassionate writing exercise, and a 10-minute recovery period. The individuals in the study were separated into different groups depending on their scores on a measure of depression, anxiety, and stress. The data were analyzed twice with two different grouping methods. One method compared individuals with mild to severe symptoms of depression (35 individuals), anxiety (43 individuals), and stress (33 individuals) to healthy group (26 individuals) and another method compared individuals with moderate to severe symptoms of depression (28 individuals), anxiety (36 individuals), and stress (24 individuals) to 44 healthy individuals. In both methods, the participants with symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress did not significantly differ from healthy participants on any measure of HRV (e.g., SDNN, LF HRV, HF HRV). Overall, the results of this show that college students with symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress physiologically react in a similar way to a self-critical and self-compassionate writing exercise.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Bartlett, Derek C., "The Effect of Depression, Anxiety, and Stress on Heart Rate Variability During Self-Critical and Self-Compassionate Exercises" (2021). Theses and Dissertations. 9004.
Heart Rate Variability, Depression, Anxiety, Stress, Self Compassion, Self Criticism