Scientific article

Autonomic functioning in mothers with interpersonal violence-related posttraumatic stress disorder in response to separation-reunion

Published inDevelopmental psychobiology, vol. 56, no. 4, p. 748-760
Publication date2014

This study characterizes autonomic nervous system activity reactive to separation-reunion among mothers with Interpersonal Violence-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (IPV-PTSD). Heart-rate (HR) and high frequency heart-rate-variability (HF-HRV) were measured in 17 IPV-PTSD-mothers, 22 sub-threshold-mothers, and 15 non-PTSD mother-controls while interacting with their toddlers (12-48 months). Analyses showed IPV-PTSD-mothers having generally lower HR than other groups. All groups showed negative correlations between changes in HR and HF-HRV from sitting- to standing-baseline. During initial separation, controls no longer showed a negative relationship between HR and HF-HRV. But by the second reunion, the negative relationship reappeared. IPV-PTSD- and sub-threshold-mothers retained negative HR/HF-HRV correlations during the initial separation, but stopped showing them by the second reunion. Results support that mother-controls showed a pattern of autonomic regulation suggestive of hypervigilance during initial separation that resolved by the time of re-exposure. PTSD-mothers showed delayed onset of this pattern only upon re-exposure, and were perhaps exhibiting defensive avoidance or numbing during the initial separation/reunion.

  • Adult
  • Autonomic Nervous System/physiopathology
  • Female
  • Heart Rate/physiology
  • Humans
  • Mothers
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic/physiopathology
  • Stress, Psychological/physiopathology
  • Violence
Citation (ISO format)
SCHECHTER, Daniel et al. Autonomic functioning in mothers with interpersonal violence-related posttraumatic stress disorder in response to separation-reunion. In: Developmental psychobiology, 2014, vol. 56, n° 4, p. 748–760. doi: 10.1002/dev.21144
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0012-1630

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