Electrodermal hyporeactivity as a trait marker for suicidal propensity in uni- and bipolar depression

J Psychiatr Res. 2013 Dec;47(12):1925-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2013.08.017. Epub 2013 Sep 5.


Background: A meta-analysis of studies investigating electrodermal activity in depressed patients, suggested that electrodermal hyporeactivity is sensitive and specific for suicide.

Aims: To confirm this finding and to study electrodermal hyporeactivity relative to type and severity of depression, trait anxiety, its stability and independence of depressive state.

Method: Depressed inpatients (n = 783) were tested for habituation of electrodermal responses and clinically assessed using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the STAI-Trait scale for trait anxiety.

Results: The high sensitivity and raw specificity of electrodermal hyporeactivity for suicide were confirmed. Its prevalence was highest in bipolar disorders and was independent of severity of depression, trait anxiety, gender and age. Hyporeactivity was stable, while reactivity changed into hyporeactivity in a later depressive episode.

Conclusions: The findings support the hypothesis that electrodermal hyporeactivity is a trait marker for suicidal propensity in depression.

Keywords: Depression; Electrodermal hyporeactivity; Sensitivity; Specificity; Stability; Suicidal behaviour.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bipolar Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response / physiology*
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Suicide*
  • Young Adult