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Need to Take Heart? Talk to Your Psychiatrist for 20 Minutes.

A powerful correlation exists between the equilibrium of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and heart rate variability (HRV). Thus, HRV is useful as a physiological index of both physical and emotional health; autonomic nervous system dysregulation, with a sympathetic predominance and a low HRV, has been associated with a variety of physical (cardiovascular, neurological) and psychiatric disorders. We used a validated algorithm of measuring the HRV (noninvasive, 2-minute approach) in new psychiatric outpatients in first author's private practice. The subjects had an initial measurement, followed by a 20-minute consultation with minimal supportive psychotherapy, followed by an exit measurement. The initial study spanned the "COVID months"; to control for this variable, an identical study was performed in 2023. There was a highly significant decrease in the sympathetic predominance in the test groups; no such trend was found in the control groups. A short psychiatry consultation may be sufficient to decrease patients' sympathetic hyperactivity and improve their well-being.

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