Discipline: Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
Subcategory: Social Sciences/Psychology/Economics
Nika Mclean - Virginia State University
Major Depression is a mental disorder characterized by long term intense sadness, low self- esteem and a lack of interest in enjoying life (NIMH, 2015). Major depression typically interferes with day-to-day functioning. On the other hand, mood state depression is defined as a temporary state of sadness that does not interfere with one’s daily functioning. Although temporary in nature, mood state depression may have an effect on the functioning of the cardiovascular system. Understanding how age mediates the relationship between depression and cardiovascular activity is imperative, therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the ability of depression and age to predict cardiovascular reactivity to a math stressor. It was hypothesized that age would significantly predict cardiovascular activity indicating a positive association between the two variables. It was also hypothesized that depression would significantly predict cardiovascular activity showing that participants with high levels of depression would have greater cardiovascular activity than those with low levels of depression. Ninety one African American college students, between the ages of 18-31, served as participants in the study. A Hypertension Diagnostics Pulse Wave cardiovascular profiling instrument was used to measure heart rate and systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Cardiovascular activity was measured as the particpants mentally completed a mental arithmentic test. Cardiovascular measures were taken prior to the test (pre stressor period), during the test (stressor period), and while the participant recovered from the test (recovery period). Each period lasted three minutes and measurements were taken 80 seconds into the period. The Profile of Mood State (POMS) questionnaire was used to measure the depression mood state. A Multiple Regression analysis revealed that age significantly predicted systolic blood pressure during the recovery period. Age also predicted diastolic blood pressure during the pre-stressor and recovery periods. The positive association between age and blood pressure indicates that, as hypothesized, older participants had higher blood pressures than their younger counterparts. Depression did not significantly predict any cardiovascular index. The significant findings between age and blood pressure may be due to the increase in responsibilities and stress as one ages. Future research should examine the effects of age and stressful responsibilities on cardiovascular activity.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): The research was funded by Virginia State University HBCU-UP grant.
Faculty Advisor: Vernessa R. Clark, N/A