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Article Summaries for June 2022 Psychosomatic Medicine, Volume 84, Issue 5

doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000001096
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Mindfulness-based interventions during pregnancy can reduce levels of perceived stress and depression and improve glucose tolerance. Noroña-Zhou et al. investigated whether the infants of women who participated in a mindfulness-based intervention differed on health-relevant biobehavioral measures compared to infants of women who did not receive this intervention. Results showed that infants of mindfulness group participants displayed potentially healthier autonomic nervous system (pre-ejection period and heart rate variability) and behavioral responses to and recovery from a “still face” challenge compared to infants of women not assigned to the intervention. These findings highlight potential long-term, intergenerational health benefits of psychosocial interventions during pregnancy.

Pages 525–535;

Metabolomic profiles may provide insights into biological mechanisms underlying the link between adverse childhood experiences and cardiometabolic disorders in later life. Huang et al. examined associations between early abuse experiences with midlife metabolomic measures using liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry. Physical and sexual abuse before age 18 was retrospectively assessed by validated questions integrating type and frequency of abuse. Early abuse was associated with distinct metabolomic profiles of multiple amino acids and lipids in middle-aged women, which was partly mediated by body mass index in adulthood and psychosocial distress.

Pages 536–546;

Approximately 30 percent of people with long-term physical health conditions (LTCs) experience comorbid anxiety and depression. Carroll et al. present a transdiagnostic theoretical model of adjustment to LTCs (TMA-LTC), demonstrating the application of this model in clinical practice. The authors highlight the distinguishing features of treating LTC-related distress compared to treating primary anxiety and/or depression. The TMA-LTC model is intended to be a useful guide for assessment and treatment in the context of psychological adjustment to LTCs.

Pages 547–559;

In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Chernoff et al. evaluated the power of psychosocial interventions to reduce depression and anxiety, improve quality of life, and reduce hospitalization and mortality rates in patients with heart failure. Interventions consisted of either cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or stress management. CBT and stress management interventions reduced depression and anxiety compared to control conditions. CBT significantly improved quality of life compared to controls, but stress management did not. Longer treatment duration appeared to be an important factor related to treatment success in patients with heart failure.

Pages 560–580;

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental disorder associated with a premature risk of midlife cardiovascular disease. Engemann et al. examined women with BPD free of clinical cardiovascular disease for myocardial deformation using echocardiography. The role of potential risk factors was also explored, including maladaptive stress responsivity, childhood trauma, and current stress exposure. Women with BPD displayed myocardial deformation (increased global longitudinal left ventricular strain), which was associated with measures of allostatic load. Accordingly, primary prevention of somatic consequences of maladaptive stress responsivity is warranted in individuals with BPD and possibly other psychiatric disorders.

Pages 581–587;

Negative emotional states, such as anger and anxiety, can trigger acute coronary syndromes and myocardial ischemia. Bekendam et al. examined whether facial emotion expression (digitally analyzed for anger, anxiety, sadness, and happiness from video recordings) prior to clinically indicated cardiac stress testing was associated with the inducibility of myocardial ischemia following exercise or adenosine administration. Emotional states immediately before cardiac stress testing and psychological background assessment were not associated with the inducibility of ischemia. This suggests that the well-documented association of negative emotions with acute coronary syndromes requires an explanation other than a reduced threshold for inducible ischemia.

Pages 588–596;

Studies report a biological link between obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and systemic autoimmune disease (SAID). Liou et al. examined records of patients with OCD and their unaffected siblings for later development of SAID. Patients with OCD and their unaffected siblings were more likely to develop any form of SAID during follow-up than the non-OCD reference group. Support for the opposite pathway was found as well: patients with SAID and their unaffected siblings were more likely to later develop OCD than the non-SAID reference group. The findings may indicate a familial coaggregation of these two conditions including both genetic and environmental factors.

Pages 597–602;

Many adults have latent infections that might affect age-related changes in central nervous system functioning. Segerstrom et al. tested the relationship of two latent infections—cytomegalovirus and Toxoplasma gondii—on longitudinal neuropsychological function and self-reported problems with self-regulation in men and women with a mean age of 75 years. Executive functions and estimated IQ were unrelated to latent infection. However, participants with cytomegalovirus reported more self-regulation problems than those without. Furthermore, women with T. gondii reported more self-regulation problems than those without whereas the opposite was found for men.

Pages 603–611;

Koffer et. al. examined long-term longitudinal changes in stress-related reactivity of blood pressure and negative affect in the natural environment. Aging was associated with increased diastolic blood pressure reactivity to social conflict and task demand and increases in systolic blood pressure reactivity to task-based stress experiences. In addition, aging was associated with increases in negative affect reactivity to social conflict and task strain. Overall, the findings suggest an age-based increased vulnerability to momentary stressors. Although mean levels of affect may improve with increasing age, these benefits may not translate into improvements in negative affect or diastolic blood pressure reactivity to environmental challenges.

Pages 612–620;

Autonomic neural controls in sleep regulation have been previously demonstrated; however, whether these alternations can be observed by different sleep staging approaches remains unclear. Tsai et al. employed two established methods for sleep staging—standardized visual scoring and the cardiopulmonary coupling (CPC) analysis based on the electrocardiogram—to explore the cardiovascular profiles of sleep. The autonomic nervous system is evidently associated with stable sleep, as indicated by the similar findings obtained from sleep stages categorized by standardized visual scoring or CPC analysis. The associations between cardiovascular neural activity and sleep electroencephalograms can be observed regardless of the sleep staging approach that is used.

Pages 621–631;

Anxiety often contributes to sleep disturbances. Mindfulness training delivered in person has been shown to help anxiety and sleep. The efficacy or mechanism of app-based mindfulness training programs for sleep have not been rigorously evaluated. In a randomized controlled trial, Gao et al. tested whether an app that aims to reduce anxiety levels is effective in people with worry-related sleep disturbance compared to treatment as usual alone. The app-based intervention improved reduced sleep time and sleep-related worry. Findings suggest that targeting worry using app-based mindfulness training may be an effective and scalable way to reduce worry-related sleep disturbances.

Pages 632–642;

Stress is a ubiquitous term that has little research value when used without contextualization. Crosswell et al. summarizes recommendations from the National Institute on Aging–funded Stress Measurement Network regarding specific language to use when describing the unique constructs and specific dimensions when studying psychological stress in humans. Improving the language specificity when researching the various types and dimensions of stress is expected to accelerate the building of a cumulative science unpacking how psychological stress affects health and well-being.

Pages 643–644;

The articles published in this issue of Psychosomatic Medicine were reviewed, edited, and accepted during the editorship of Willem J. Kop, who is now Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Psychosomatic Medicine. He also edited the Article Summaries.

Copyright © 2022 by the American Psychosomatic Society