Prevalence of alexithymia and its association with anxiety and depression in a sample of Greek chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) outpatients

Article (PDF Available)inAnnals of General Psychiatry 9(1):16 · April 2010with35 Reads
DOI: 10.1186/1744-859X-9-16 · Source: PubMed
Abstract
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major health problem, especially in adults over 40 years of age, and has a great social and economic impact. The psychological morbidity of COPD patients with regard to anxiety and depressive symptoms has been extensively studied in the past. However, few studies have investigated the prevalence of alexithymia in these patients, as well as its association with this comorbidity. Based on this fact, we studied the prevalence of alexithymia and its association with anxiety and depressive symptoms in COPD outpatients. The present study included 167, randomly selected, outpatients diagnosed with COPD. Alexithymia, anxiety and depression were assessed using the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), Spielberger Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), respectively. The mean BDI score was 12.88 (SD: 7.7), mean STAI score 41.8 (SD: 11.0) and mean TAS-20 score 48.2 (SD: 11.5). No differences were observed between genders regarding age and alexithymia (t test P > 0.05), while female patients presented higher depression and trait anxiety scores than males (t test P < 0.05). Clinically significant levels of anxiety were present in 37.1% of men, and in 45.7% of women. The mean depression score was also higher than the corresponding mean score in the general population (one-sample t test P < 0.01), while 27.7% and 30.5% of the sample presented mild and moderate to severe depression, respectively. Finally, a strong correlation was observed between alexithymia, depression and anxiety. This study confirms the high prevalence of anxiety and depression symptoms in Greek outpatients with COPD. The prevalence of alexithymia in COPD patients, contrary to what has been observed in patients with other chronic respiratory diseases, seem to be lower. However, we observed a strong association between alexithymia, depression and anxiety levels. This observation suggests that alexithymia should be taken into consideration when drafting specific psychotherapeutic interventions for these patients.
Tselebis et al. Annals of General Psychiatry 2010, 9:16
http://www.annals-general-psychiatry.com/content/9/1/16
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PRIMARY RESEARCH
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Primary research
Prevalence of alexithymia and its association with
anxiety and depression in a sample of Greek
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
outpatients
Athanasios Tselebis*
1
, Epaminondas Kosmas
2
, Dionisios Bratis
1
, Georgios Moussas
1
, Athanasios Karkanias
1
,
Ioannis Ilias
3
, Nikolaos Siafakas
4
, Alexandros Vgontzas
5
and Nikolaos Tzanakis
4,6
Abstract
Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major health problem, especially in adults over 40
years of age, and has a great social and economic impact. The psychological morbidity of COPD patients with regard to
anxiety and depressive symptoms has been extensively studied in the past. However, few studies have investigated the
prevalence of alexithymia in these patients, as well as its association with this comorbidity. Based on this fact, we
studied the prevalence of alexithymia and its association with anxiety and depressive symptoms in COPD outpatients.
Methods: The present study included 167, randomly selected, outpatients diagnosed with COPD. Alexithymia, anxiety
and depression were assessed using the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), Spielberger Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI),
and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), respectively.
Results: The mean BDI score was 12.88 (SD: 7.7), mean STAI score 41.8 (SD: 11.0) and mean TAS-20 score 48.2 (SD: 11.5).
No differences were observed between genders regarding age and alexithymia (t test P > 0.05), while female patients
presented higher depression and trait anxiety scores than males (t test P < 0.05). Clinically significant levels of anxiety
were present in 37.1% of men, and in 45.7% of women. The mean depression score was also higher than the
corresponding mean score in the general population (one-sample t test P < 0.01), while 27.7% and 30.5% of the sample
presented mild and moderate to severe depression, respectively. Finally, a strong correlation was observed between
alexithymia, depression and anxiety.
Conclusions: This study confirms the high prevalence of anxiety and depression symptoms in Greek outpatients with
COPD. The prevalence of alexithymia in COPD patients, contrary to what has been observed in patients with other
chronic respiratory diseases, seem to be lower. However, we observed a strong association between alexithymia,
depression and anxiety levels. This observation suggests that alexithymia should be taken into consideration when
drafting specific psychotherapeutic interventions for these patients.
Background
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of
the leading causes of mortality and morbidity worldwide.
The disease is very common especially in smoker adults
over 40 years of age and has a considerable social and
economic impact [1]. In the USA it is the fourth highest
ranked condition leading to chronic morbidity and mor-
tality and, according to the World Health Organization
(WHO), it is expected to rank fifth in the year 2020 for
burden of disease worldwide [2,3]. The disease is charac-
terised by airflow obstruction that is not fully reversible;
this airflow limitation is usually progressive and is associ-
ated with an abnormal inflammatory response of the
lungs to noxious particles or gases, primarily caused by
cigarette smoking [1].
* Correspondence: atselebis@yahoo.gr
1
Psychiatric Department, Sotiria General Hospital of Chest Diseases, Athens,
Greece
Full list of author information is available at the end of the article
Tselebis et al. Annals of General Psychiatry 2010, 9:16
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Page 2 of 7
With regard to Greece, studies from the 1980s pointed
to this disease being a public health problem [4]. At the
same time, COPD's effect on the psychological status of
patients was recognised [5].
However, the relevant psychological status studies have
mainly been focused on the prevalence of anxiety [6-10]
and depression, which often appear together in these
patients [11-15]. The prevalence of depression among
outpatients with COPD is substantially greater than life-
time rates in the general population (ranging between
10% and 42% in the former, compared to approximately
5% in the latter). Correspondingly, the prevalence of anxi-
ety varies from 10% to 19% [15], a percentage that is
higher than the 15% that is reported in the general popu-
lation [16,17]. Regarding patients who have recently
recovered from an acute exacerbation of COPD, the prev-
alence of depression is even higher and ranges between
19.4% and 50% [15]. The same is true concerning anxiety,
with the percentage ranges between 9.3% and 58% [15].
Both depression and anxiety are significantly associated
with decreased functional status and worse health status
when compared to those of patients without psychologi-
cal symptoms, even after controlling for the effects of
overall health status [13,17-19]. Higher predominance of
depression and anxiety was observed in patients with
COPD compared to patients that suffered from other
chronic respiratory disorders, such as bronchial asthma
and tuberculosis [17].
Alexithymia indicates 'lack of words for emotions' [20].
This term was first used in the 1970s, when Nemiah and
Sifneos, evaluating psychiatric interviews of patients with
classic psychosomatic ailments, found that most of these
patients had great difficulty in describing their feelings
verbally as well as limited capacity to fantasise [21]. Sif-
neos [20], in an effort to describe these symptoms under
a coherent term coined the phrase alexithymia (loosely
based on ancient Greek, from αλέξε = deflect + θυμικο =
the emotional moiety of the soul); thus it literally implies
a deflection of emotions. In general, subjects with alexi-
thymia usually complain of somatic symptoms, regardless
of their somatic ailment. At the same time they have great
difficulty in recognising and describing their emotions
[20-22]. Although the role of alexithymia and its associa-
tion with levels of anxiety and depression has already
been recognised in other respiratory diseases, such as
bronchial asthma [23], few studies have investigated the
possibility that alexithymia may also be prevalent in
patients suffering from COPD [24-26].
Taking into account the high prevalence of anxiety and
depression in patients with COPD [15], as well the
reported associations among depression, anxiety, somatic
symptoms and alexithymia [27], we studied the preva-
lence of alexithymia and its association with anxiety and
depression in a sample of Greek COPD outpatients.
Methods
Sample
From the outpatients list of scheduled appointments at
our hospital's clinics (among the largest respiratory dis-
ease hospitals in Europe) we selected those to be included
in the study with randomisation using a Microsoft Excel
(Microsoft, Redmond, WA, USA) algorithm (167 COPD
outpatients). No patient refused to participate in the
study. Subjects over the age of 80 years and patients diag-
nosed with other major somatic disorders (such as heart
failure, myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular disease,
cancer, or severe orthopaedic disorders) or major mental
disorders (such as schizophrenia or sentimental disorder)
were excluded from the study. The relevant information
was obtained from the subjects' medical history and med-
ical record. Age, gender, family status and education years
were noted.
Physical measures
In order to determine the COPD severity of our sample, a
spirometric evaluation before and after bronchodilation
(200 μg salbutamol) was performed. We followed the
Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease
(GOLD) diagnostic criteria, which classify COPD sever-
ity (in relation to forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV
1
)
percentage of predicted) into four stages. Stage I (mild
COPD): FEV
1
> 80% predicted; stage II (moderate
COPD): FEV
1
50% to 80% predicted; stage III (severe
COPD): FEV
1
30% to 50% predicted; and stage IV (very
severe COPD): FEV
1
< 30% predicted [3].
Psychological measures
Depression was assessed with the Beck Depression
Inventory (BDI) [28], which includes 21 items graded
from 0 to 3. A high total score in the questionnaire corre-
sponds to the presence of elevated depressive symptoma-
tology [16,17,23,29]. The inventory has been standardised
and used in Greek population. The inner coherence reli-
ability (α = 0.84) is high and the retest reliability ranges
from 0.48 to 0.86 for clinical groups and 0.60 to 0.90 for
non-clinical populations. Its validity in relation to an
external criterion for depression (that is, a clinical diag-
nosis) is considered to be satisfactory [30].
Anxiety was assessed with the Spielberger State Trait
Anxiety Inventory (STAI), a widely used anxiety rating
scale [31]. It consists of 40 items, each graded from 1 to 4.
The scale differentiates anxiety into (a) anxiety caused by
a specific condition (state subscale) and (b) anxiety as a
more permanent characteristic of personality (trait sub-
scale). The Greek validation of the trait subscale was used
in our study, which is considered as having a high inner
coherence reliability (α = 0.89) and validity compared to
clinical diagnosis [32,33].
Tselebis et al. Annals of General Psychiatry 2010, 9:16
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Alexithymia was assessed with the Toronto Alexithy-
mia Scale (TAS-20), which includes 20 items, graded
from 1 to 5. A high score (> 60) on the scale is consistent
with increased presence of alexithymic characteristics
[34]. The TAS-20 has been adapted into the Greek lan-
guage and its reliability is considered to be satisfactory (α
= 0.80) [35].
Before replying to the questionnaires used in this study,
all the subjects were evaluated by two clinical psycholo-
gists in 60 min person-to-person sessions.
Statistical analysis was performed with analysis of vari-
ance (ANOVA) and Tukey's post hoc tests, Student t test
and stepwise multiple linear regression. Statistical signifi-
cance was set at P < 0.05 (corrected where applicable).
The hospital ethics committee approved the study and
all participants provided written informed consent. No
financial support was necessary.
Results
The sample included 132 men and 35 women. The mean
age of the participants was 65.5 ± 8.2 (men: 65.4 ± 8.1 and
women 65.7 ± 8.5), while the mean FEV
1
percentage of
predicted was 41.5 ± 18.7 (Table 1). There were no differ-
ences between genders, regarding age, years of education,
and FEV
1
percentage of predicted (ANOVA P > 0.05,
Table 1). The family status of the study's subjects (77.7%
were married, 4.6% were single, 7.7% were widowed and
10% were divorced) was not found to be associated with
the studied parameters (one-way ANOVA P > 0.005).
With regard to the severity of COPD according to the
GOLD classification scheme, 10 patients had mild dis-
ease, 30 moderate disease, 75 severe disease and 52 were
at a very severe stage of the disease.
Mean BDI score was 12.88 ± 7.7, mean STAI score was
41.8 ± 11.0 and mean TAS-20 score was 48.2 ± 11.5. No
differences were observed between genders, regarding
age and alexithymia (TAS-20) (ANOVA P > 0.05, Table
2), while female patients presented higher depression
(BDI) and trait anxiety (STAI) scores than males
(ANOVA P < 0.05, Table 2).
Patients with COPD presented the same mean alexithy-
mia score (48.2) as the general population's mean score
(49.5) [35] (one-sample t test P > 0.05). However, 12% of
our sample presented with a score > 60 (Table 3).
Men presented higher mean trait anxiety levels
(ANOVA P < 0.01) than the corresponding level (34.54)
in the general Greek male population [32]. The same was
also observed in women COPD patients compared to the
mean corresponding score (37.47) in the general Greek
population of women (one-sample t test P < 0.01) [29].
Clinically significant levels of anxiety (score ≥ 44 for men
and ≥ 46 for women) were present in 37.1% of men, and
in 45.7% of women. The mean depression score was also
higher than the corresponding mean score in the general
population (5.86 one-sample t test P < 0.01) [30], while
24% and 35.3% of the sample presented mild (BDI score
10 to 14) and moderate to severe (BDI score ≥ 15) depres-
sion, respectively (Table 3).
Mean FEV
1
percentage of predicted, age and years of
education showed no correlation with alexithymia, anxi-
ety or depression score, while strong positive correlations
were noted with alexithymia, anxiety and depression
(Table 4).
To further assess factors that influence the depression
score, we used stepwise multiple regression (Table 5).
The trait anxiety score was responsible for 50.9% of varia-
tion in depression (F1
,165
= 170.74, P < 0.001) and the
alexithymia score for an additional 6.3% (F1
,164
= 24.06, P
< 0.01).
Discussion
The present study confirms the presence of a higher pro-
portion of anxiety (approximately 37.1% for male and
45.7% for female) and depression (approximately 35.3%)
Table 1: Demographics and baseline characteristics.
Characteristic Value
Male/female 132/35
Age, years (± SD)
Male 65 ± 8
Female 66 ± 9
Education, years (± SD)
Male 11 ± 4
Female 11 ± 5
FEV
1
(percentage of
predicted) (± SD)
Male 41 ± 19
Female 46 ± 17
Severity (GOLD)
Mild/moderate/severe/very
severe
10/30/75/52
FEV
1
= forced expiratory volume in 1 s; GOLD = Global Initiative
for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease.
Tselebis et al. Annals of General Psychiatry 2010, 9:16
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in Greek outpatients with COPD than those in the gen-
eral population. However, the lack of a control group may
limit the generalisability of these results. The female pop-
ulation with COPD is differentiated from males by higher
levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms. These find-
ings are in accordance with previous studies that indi-
cated a higher prevalence of overall anxiety and
depressive symptoms among women with COPD [15,36].
Independently of gender, there are many mechanisms
that could be involved in this comorbidity. Patients with
COPD have poor physical functioning, a condition which
has been shown to be related to higher rate of psycholog-
ical morbidity [36]. The high levels of anxiety and depres-
sive symptoms are possibly the result of pressure from
social factors, as well as from coping with daily living.
Many of these patients have had to limit their daily activi-
ties due to their lung disease. They frequently have to
change jobs or retire early. Their social interactions are
also adversely affected because they cannot maintain
pace with their peers [37]. In addition, patients with
COPD soon realise that his/her disease is irreversible and
progressive [14,37]. Furthermore, the hypoxic nature of
the disease and dyspnoea may lead to increased distress
[36,37].
However, an impressive finding of our study was that
anxiety and depression were not correlated with COPD
severity (as determined by FEV
1
percentage of predicted).
In a previous study [38] it was reported that dyspnoea
ratings were influenced by anxiety and depressive symp-
toms, whereas the physiological state (including FEV
1
percentage of predicted) scarcely influenced the anxiety
and depressive symptomatology. Although further stud-
ies are required in order to explain these findings, it is
possible that patients construe disease seriousness sub-
jectively, which contributes to the development of the
levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms.
The prevalence of alexithymia in COPD patients, con-
trary to what has been observed in patients with other
chronic respiratory diseases, seems to be lower. However,
a positive correlation was observed between alexithymia,
anxiety and depressive symptoms. Previous studies based
on both clinical and healthy populations have reported a
connection between depressive symptomatology and
alexithymia, and it is well known that patients with
depressive disorders are prone to experiencing alexithy-
mic features [39,40]. Additionally, alexithymic features
have been related to higher levels of anxiety [41]. Due to
the limitations of our study, we cannot answer the ques-
tion of whether alexithymia leads to depressive and anxi-
ety symptoms or depression and anxiety symptoms lead
to alexithymia.
Table 2: Mean (± SD) scores for Beck Depression Inventory
(BDI), Spielberger Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and
Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20).
Category Value
Depression
Male (N = 132) 12.2 ± 7.6
Female (N = 35) 15.3 ± 7.9
Total (N = 167) 12.9 ± 7.7
Anxiety
Male (N = 132) 41.1 ± 10.4
Female (N = 35) 44.7 ± 10.6
Total (N = 167) 41.8 ± 10.5
Alexithymia
Male (N = 132) 48.0 ± 11.2
Female (N = 35) 49.2 ± 12.8
Total (N = 167) 48.2 ± 11.2
Females had higher trait anxiety and depression scores than males (t
test P < 0.05, for all comparisons).
Table 3: Prevalence of anxiety, alexithymia and depressive symptoms in relation to gender.
Anxiety (STAI) Alexithymia (TAS-20) Mild depression (BDI
10-14)
Moderate to severe
depression (BDI ≥ 15)
Male 37.1% 10.6% 25% 30.3%
Female 45.7% 17.1% 20% 54.3%
Total 38.3% 12% 24% 35.3%
BDI = Beck Depression Inventory; STAI = Spielberger Trait Anxiety Inventory; TAS-20 = Toronto Alexithymia Scale.
Tselebis et al. Annals of General Psychiatry 2010, 9:16
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Compared with other psychosomatic and somatic dis-
eases, such as bronchial asthma, the prevalence of alexi-
thymia in COPD is lower. Furthermore, alexithymia may
be related to recurrent very severe asthma exacerbations
in asthmatics [42-44].
We did not study possible associations of COPD exac-
erbations with any of the other parameters studied. Thus,
although we cannot support a similar hypothesis for
COPD exacerbations, we believe that the correlations
that were seen among alexithymia, depression and anxi-
ety levels should be taken into consideration when draft-
ing psychotherapeutic interventions (as a part of a
pulmonary rehabilitation program) for these patients
[45]. This is more pertinent in those patients with overall
alexithymic characteristics (who often fail to recognise
their underlying psychological malaise due to a lack of
capacity for mental representation of emotions) [46,47].
These deficiencies may cause an inability to regulate
emotions and affect and, therefore, may lead to increased
somatisation and attenuated capacity to recognise the
Table 4: Correlation between forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV
1
) percentage of predicted, depression, anxiety and
alexithymia.
FEV1 percentage of predicted
BDI STAI
BDI (depression) Pearson correlation 0.085
Significance (two-tailed) 0.424
N167
STAI (anxiety) Pearson correlation 0.068 0.805*
Significance (two-tailed) 0.523 0.000
N 167 167
TAS-20 (alexithymia) Pearson correlation -0.026 0.510* 0.392*
Significance (two-tailed) 0.809 0.000 0.000
N 167 167 167
Significant values in bold.
*Pearson correlation P < 0.01.
BDI = Beck Depression Inventory; STAI = Spielberger Trait Anxiety Inventory; TAS-20 = Toronto Alexithymia Scale.
Table 5: Stepwise multiple regression (only statistically significant variables are included)*.
Variable Multiple R B Standard
error
β t Significance
STAI
(anxiety)
0.713 0.445 0.041 0.606 10.908 0.000
TAS-20
(alexithymia)
0.756 0.182 0.037 0.273 4.905 0.000
Dependent variable: BDI (depression).
*The following variables were eliminated: age, gender, education years and FEV
1
percentage of predicted.
BDI = Beck Depression Inventory; FEV
1
= forced expiratory volume in 1 s; STAI = Spielberger Trait Anxiety Inventory; TAS-20 = Toronto
Alexithymia Scale.
Tselebis et al. Annals of General Psychiatry 2010, 9:16
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underlying depressive symptoms or anxiety (and lack
thereof of therapeutic intervention) [44,47]. Furthermore,
subjects with high anxiety and depressive symptoms and
concomitant alexithymia most probably have difficulty in
verbally expressing their symptoms [22]. In alexithymia,
by definition, the difficulty in expressing psychological
symptoms as such leads to their expression as somatic
(often atypical) symptoms [22]. The latter may distract
clinicians and make them miss the psychological compo-
nent that lies at the root of the problem. Given this, the
possible presence of alexithymia should be taken into
consideration when planning specialised psychothera-
peutic interventions within respiratory rehabilitation
programs.
Additionally, patients with severe depression and anxi-
ety are less likely to be compliant to treatment plans and
more likely to be hospitalised [48]. Therefore, compre-
hensive programs should incorporate individualised
depression and anxiety management techniques.
Finally, this study does have some limitations. First is
the lack of a control group; second, we did not study pos-
sible associations of COPD exacerbations with any of the
other parameters studied. These limitations should be
taken into consideration in further work.
Conclusions
This study confirms the high prevalence of anxiety and
depression symptoms in Greek outpatients with COPD, a
finding that is in accordance with relative studies world-
wide. Additionally, our results are in agreement with
other studies, which concluded that women have more
psychological comorbidity [49-55].
In our study and in the most previous studies of
patients with COPD, FEV
1
percentage of predicted
appeared to have an unfavourable effect, being a predic-
tor of anxiety and depression in [50].
The prevalence of alexithymia in COPD patients, con-
trary to what has been observed in patients with other
chronic respiratory diseases, seems to be lower. However,
we observed a strong correlation between alexithymia,
depression and anxiety levels, a finding suggesting that
this comorbidity should be taken into consideration when
drafting psychotherapeutic programs for these patients
Competing interests
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Authors' contributions
AT conceived the paper, designed the study, performed the psychological
measures, collected data, carried out the statistical analysis and drafted the
paper; EK performed the physical measures, carried out the statistical analysis
and helped draft the paper; DB performed the psychological measures, col-
lected data, gave suggestions for the concept of alexithymia and helped draft
the paper; GM and AK helped draft the paper; II carried out the statistical analy-
sis and helped draft the paper; NS and AV supervised the study; NT carried out
the statistical analysis, helped draft the paper and supervised the study. All
authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Author Details
1
Psychiatric Department, Sotiria General Hospital of Chest Diseases, Athens,
Greece,
2
Pulmonary Rehabilitation Centre, Sotiria General Hospital of Chest
Diseases, Athens, Greece,
3
Endocrine Department, Elena Venizelou Hospital,
Athens, Greece,
4
Department of Thoracic Medicine, University of Crete,
Medical School, Heraklion, Greece,
5
Psychiatric Department, University of
Crete, Medical School, Heraklion, Greece and
6
Departement of Social
Medicine, Laboratory of Epidemiology, University of Crete, Medical School,
Heraklion, Greece
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Received: 30 December 2009 Accepted: 14 April 2010
Published: 14 April 2010
This article is available from: http://www.annals-general-psychiatry.com/content/9/1/16© 2010 Tselebis et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2 .0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.Annals of Genera l Psychiat ry 2010, 9:16
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doi: 10.1186/1744-859X-9-16
Cite this article as: Tselebis et al., Prevalence of alexithymia and its associa-
tion with anxiety and depression in a sample of Greek chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease (COPD) outpatients Annals of General Psychiatry 2010,
9:16
    • "Total scores range from 20 to 100. The TAS-20 is used worldwide for measuring alexithymia, and the empirically established cut off of ≥61 (Bagdy and Taylor 1997) was used in this study as this cut-off score has been used in a previous Greek study (Tselebis et al. 2010). A validated Greek version of the TAS-20 was used (Anagnostopoulou and Kioseoglou 2002). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The investigation of the relationship between alexithymia, the inability to identify and describe feelings and the absence of fantasies, and fertility-related distress is a relatively neglected area of research. The aims of this study were to examine: (i) the prevalence of alexithymia in a sample of infertile women, and (ii) the association between alexithymia, coping strategies and fertility-related stress. This study included 160 infertile women undergoing in vitro fertilization in a public fertility clinic from September of 2013 to December of 2013. Self-report instruments were used to measure alexithymia (TAS-20), coping (COPE) and fertility-related stress (FPI). Bivariate and multiple linear regression were used. High alexithymia score was positively associated with age, infertility duration and low educational and low economic level. Multivariate analyses showed that, controlling for demographic factors, high avoidance coping, low problem-appraisal coping and high alexithymia were positively associated with fertility-related stress (β = 0.309, p < 0.001, β = -0.203, p = 0.006, β = 0.151, p = 0.050, respectively). Results of this study indicated that alexithymia during fertility treatment was associated with maladaptive coping strategies and psychological stress. In addition, the association between alexithymia and duration of infertility may be interpreted as secondary alexithymia acts as a coping strategy in infertile women.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015
    • "Finally, the positive correlation between anxiety and depression is a common finding in both the general population [5,20] and in patients with COPD [1,6,68]. The fact that the predicted FEV 1 % and severity of COPD showed no correlation with anxiety or depression has been observed in other studies [6,68] . These observations are consistent with the hypothesis that the predicted FEV 1 % does not reflect all aspects of the dis- ease [69]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The presence of anxiety and depressive symptoms in COPD patients has been acknowledged for many years. The preponderance of recent studies supports the utility of pulmonary rehabilitation programs to reduce the levels of depression and anxiety in these patients. The aim of this study is to investigate possible changes in levels of anxiety and depression among patients enrolled in a pulmonary rehabilitation program, along with the role of disease severity in these changes. In 101 COPD patients, who attended a pulmonary rehabilitation program, levels of trait anxiety (STAI) and depressive symptoms (BDI) were assessed at the beginning and at the end of the program. Age, sex, level of education in years and stage of disease severity were recorded. Our study included 80 male and 21 female patients. Mean age and mean education level were 64.1 ± 8.1 and 11.3 ± 4.1 years, respectively. Regarding COPD staging, 11 patients suffered from mild, 16 from moderate, 47 from severe and 27 from very severe COPD. Significant decreases in anxiety (from 39.7 to 34.0, p < 0.001) and depression rates (from 10.7 to 6.3, p < 0.001) were observed. A statistically significant reduction in anxiety and depression was revealed (p < 0.05)at all stages of COPD. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs should be offered to all COPD patients irrespective of disease severity, since they all lead to improvement in anxiety and depressive symptoms.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2013
    • "Alexithymia is a personality trait that involves difficulty identifying and describing feelings, difficulty distinguishing between feelings and the bodily sensations of emotional arousal, and an externally oriented cognitive style (Sifneos, 1973; Taylor, 1984). Given the lack of introspection and difficulty in expressing emotions to others experienced by individuals with this condition, the close association between alexithymia and certain psychosomatic (Tselebis et al., 2010) and psychiatric conditions, including major depression, delinquent and impulsive behaviors, eating disorders, and substance abuse disorders is not surprising (Taylor and Bagby, 2004). A recent study conducted by Chen et al. suggested that alexithymia directly affects and is a major predictor of adjustment disorder (Chen et al., 2011). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Subpopulations of patients with adjustment disorder are at increased risk for suicide. The current study investigated whether personality traits, including alexithymia, temperament, and character, are associated with an increased risk of suicide in individuals with adjustment disorder. Age and sex-matched patients meeting the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) criteria for adjustment disorder with (n=92) and without (n=92) a history of suicide attempts were recruited for the present study. Ninety-two healthy individuals who did not meet diagnostic criteria for Axis I or II diagnoses were used as controls. The Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 (TAS-20) and the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) were used to assess personality traits. Significantly higher total and subscale scores on the TAS-20, including on the difficulty-identifying-feelings (DIF) and difficulty-describing-feelings (DDF) subscales, and lower scores on the TCI cooperativeness subscale were noted in adjustment-disorder patients with previous suicide attempts. In the multivariate regression analysis, high DDF and DIF and low cooperativeness increased the risk of suicide attempts in adjustment-disorder patients. A subsequent path analysis revealed that high DDF had a direct effect on suicide attempts, whereas high DIF had an indirect effect on suicide attempts via low cooperativeness.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012
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