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Is alexithymia a personality trait increasing the risk of depression? A prospective study evaluating alexithymia before, during and after a depressive episode

  • C. Marchesi (a1), S. Bertoni (a1), A. Cantoni (a1) and C. Maggini (a1)

Abstract

Background

Whether alexithymia is a personality trait that increases the risk of major depression (MD) is still debated. In this prospective study, alexithymic levels were evaluated before, during and after a depressive episode.

Method

The alexithymic levels, the presence of MD and the severity of anxious-depressive symptoms were evaluated at intervals of about 1 month in pregnant women attending the Centers for Prenatal Care, using the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS), the Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders (PRIME-MD) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS).

Results

Sixteen women affected by MD, 21 affected by subthreshold depression and 112 non-depressed women were included in the study. Women who developed depression, compared to non-depressed women, showed similar TAS and HADS scores during the pre-morbid phase, a significant increase in the scores during depression and a significant decrease after remission, whereas no change was observed in non-depressed women.

Conclusions

Our data suggest that in pregnant women alexithymia does not represent a personality trait that increases the risk of developing a depressive episode, and they support the hypothesis that alexithymia is a state-dependent phenomenon in depressed pregnant women.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: C. Marchesi, M.D., Università di Parma, Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Sezione di Psichiatria, Strada del Quartiere 2, 43100 Parma, Italy. (Email: carlo.marchesi @unipr.it)

References

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Keywords

Is alexithymia a personality trait increasing the risk of depression? A prospective study evaluating alexithymia before, during and after a depressive episode

  • C. Marchesi (a1), S. Bertoni (a1), A. Cantoni (a1) and C. Maggini (a1)

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