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Heart Rate Variability of Various Video-Aided Mindful Deep Breathing Durations and Its Impact on Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Symptom Severity

Abstract

Objectives

Deep breathing (DB) is known to elicit positive changes to the heart rate variability (HRV) measurement and improve the quality of well-being. However, literature reporting on the effects of the mindful DB duration is scant. This study investigated the HRV indices and its correlation with the mental health scores of three different mindful DB durations.

Methods

Fifty participants were recruited and assigned to the control (Con, n = 13), mindful DB for 5 min (DB5, n = 14), 7 min (DB7, n = 11), or 9 min (DB9, n = 12) group. The HRV was measured during the baseline, mindful DB intervention, post-intervention, and a follow-up session after 7 days of practicing the DB daily. The mental health state was screened during the baseline and follow-up session.

Results

During the intervention, all three DB groups had a significantly larger standard deviation of the normal-to-normal interval and normalized low frequency power whereas the normalized high frequency power (nHF) was significantly smaller than the control group. The depression score for the DB7 and DB9 participants was significantly smaller than the control group (p = 0.024 and p = 0.021, respectively). A significant negative correlation was obtained for the depression score and nHF of the DB9 group (r = − 0.673, p = 0.016).

Conclusions

The mindful DB duration plays a role in the shifting of the autonomic nervous system such that only the reduction in depression for the DB9 group was associated with the greater activation of the parasympathetic nervous system.

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Acknowledgments

Special thanks to ICaterpillar Sdn. Bhd. for sponsoring the HRV device. We also wish to thank all the of the study participants.

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KSC assisted in the designing of the study, executed the study, analyzed the data, and wrote the paper. PEC collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript. PFL formulated the research question, designed the study, and provided expert knowledge for the interpretation of the results. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.

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Correspondence to Poh Foong Lee.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee of University of Tunku Abdul Rahman and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Cheng, K.S., Croarkin, P.E. & Lee, P.F. Heart Rate Variability of Various Video-Aided Mindful Deep Breathing Durations and Its Impact on Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Symptom Severity. Mindfulness 10, 2082–2094 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-019-01178-8

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Keywords

  • Heart rate variability
  • Mindful deep breathing duration
  • Depression
  • High frequency power