To clarify the distinction between anxiety and depression, the tripartite model was introduced. According to this model, physiological hyperarousal (PH, i.e. autonomic hyperactivity) is specific for anxiety and not depression. Research on the relation between anxiety, depression and physiological measures representing arousal is lacking. To study this topic, parent- and self-reported anxiety and depressive problems were assessed using the CBCL and RCADS. Heart rate (HR), heart rate variability in the low frequency (HRV LF) and respiratory sinus arrythmia (RSA) were used as indices for autonomic arousal. Parent-reported anxiety was associated with low RSA in supine posture. This association was also found for self-reported anxiety problems, but only in boys. These findings point towards high arousal in anxiety. Self-reported depressive problems were associated with low HRV LF in standing posture and high RSA in supine posture in boys, pointing towards low arousal in depression. However, self-reported depressive problems were also associated with high HR in standing posture and with low HRV LF in supine posture in girls, suggesting high arousal in depression. Thus, some evidence was found for hyperarousal in anxiety, but also for hyperarousal in depression. Apparently, the idea of hyperarousal in anxiety and not in depression is too simple to reflect the more complex reality.
This study investigates associations between depressive problems and classroom social status in a large population cohort of Dutch early adolescents (N = 1046, age 13.52 0.51, 52.4% girls). Depressive problems were assessed by parent and self-reports, classroom status by peer nominations. We assessed peer status with respect to both achievement-related (being a good learner, being good at sports, being good-looking) and affection-related (being liked, being disliked, being best friend) areas. In boys, depressive problems were most strongly associated with not being good at sports, while in girls the association was strongest for not being liked. The risk of a low status in one area could largely be compensated by a high status in another area.