The effects of acute tryptophan depletion on impulsivity and mood in adolescents engaging in non-suicidal self-injury.
Fikke, L.~~Melinder, A.~~Landro, N.
Objective: Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is associated with impaired emotion regulation and impulsivity. Low serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) function is associated with NSSI, impaired emotion regulation and impulsivity. We investigated the effects of experimentally lowered 5-hydroxytryptamine activity, via acute tryptophan depletion (ATD), on impulsive action, reflection impulsivity and mood in female adolescents engaging in NSSI. Methods: Thirty-two female adolescents engaging in NSSI participated in a parallel group ATD study. Following ATD, impulsive action was assessed using the Continuous Performance Test, Identical Pairs Version. Reflection impulsivity was assessed using the Matching Familiar Figures Test. Mood-lowering was examined using the Profile of Mood States. Results: Following ATD, the participants showed an impulsive response style (as reflected in their low ) and increased attentional capacity (as reflected in their elevated d’). ATD did not affect reflection impulsivity or mood. Conclusions: Acute tryptophan depletion caused an impulsive response style and increased attentional capacity. Importantly, the findings suggest that low serotonin function is a vulnerability among female adolescents for engaging in NSSI when in emotional distress.