Heart Rate and Mental Health

Amy Fleming, BBC Science Focus, reports on link between heart rate and mental health. October 2020.

Before COVID-19, loneliness was considered a national epidemic, and as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. But by the middle of June 2020, social isolation had become the ‘new normal’ for more of us, with 7.4 million British people having experienced ‘lockdown loneliness’, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The knock-on effects that stress and loneliness could be having on our physical health are potentially vast, although they can be hard to spot when we’re in the thick of challenging times. A panic attack is relatively easy to identify, but the slow and steady creep of rising blood pressure or inflammation is less obvious.

Step forward, a little-known health marker called heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is a measure of the degree of variation in time between heartbeats. Greater variation means we’re in a good place – resilient, in control of our emotions and ready for anything. Lower variation implies we need to prioritise self-care.

Read more : https://www.sciencefocus.com/the-human-body/the-stress-test-what-heart-rate-variability-can-tell-you-about-your-mental-health/

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