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October 2021

Factors associated with alexithymia in patients suffering from depression

Author(s): Saarinen, P., Hintikka, J., Virtanen, V., Viinamaki, H.

Journal/Book: Psychother Psychosom. 1999; 68: Allschwilerstrasse 10, CH-4009 Basel, Switzerland. Karger. 270-275.

Abstract: Background: We studied the factors associated with alexithymia in 137 depressed outpatients. Methods: Diagnosis of depression was confirmed by means of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R. Alexithymia was screened using the 20-item version of the Toronto Alexithymia Scale. Severity of depression was assessed using the 21-item Beck Depression inventory, and other psychiatric symptoms with the help of the Symptoms Checklist (SCL-90). Life satisfaction was also assessed with a structured scale. Results: Almost half of the patients were considered alexithymic. They were significantly more often male, unmarried and had a lower education than the nonalexithymic patients, Alexithymic patients more often showed psychiatric symptoms (SCL-90) and were also more often severely depressed and dissatisfied with their life than were the other patients. Logistic regression analyses revealed that four factors were independently associated with alexithymia: male gender, a low level of education, low life satisfaction and severe depression. Sleep disturbances were independently associated with alexithymia in men and severe depression in women. Conclusions: Alexithymia is very common among patients with depressive disorder. An awareness of these risk factors would be useful in improving the efficacy of treatment.

Note: Article Honkalampi K, Kuopio Univ Hosp, Dept Psychiat, Res & Dev Unit, POB 1777, FIN-70211 Kuopio, FINLAND

Keyword(s): affective symptoms; depression; quality of life; risk factors; sleep disorder; CONSULTATION-LIAISON PATIENTS; LIFE SATISFACTION; SCALE TAS; FEATURES; VALIDITY

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