Alexithymia in Parkinson's disease is related to severity of depressive symptoms

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The authors investigated the possible relationship between depression and alexithymia in a population of hospitalized patients suffering from Parkinson's disease (PD). Fifty-eight PD patients without dementia participated in the study. Alexithymia was screened using the 20 item version of the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS 20). Depression was diagnosed using a Structured Clinical Interview (SCID I) for DSM-IV. Severity of depression was evaluated with the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). The prevalence of Alexithymia was about 21%. PD patients with major depression were significantly more alexithymic (TAS 20 average score = 61.4) than PD patients without depression (TAS 20 average score = 47.4) and, also, tended to be more alexithymic than PD patients with minor depression (MiD; TAS 20 average score = 50.6), whereas no difference was found between PD patients with MiD and PD patients without depression. Moreover, high scores obtained on the BDI were found to strongly predict high level of alexithymia in these patients. These results extend to a cohort of PD patients previous data from the literature evidencing a strong association between alexithymia and severity of depressive symptoms.

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