The Role of Alexithymia in the Incidence of Poststroke Depression

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Poststroke depression (PSD) is the most frequent neuropsychiatric consequence of stroke, and alexithymia is a construct characterized by the inability to identify and describe emotions. Our study aimed to determine whether alexithymia is a risk factor for the development of PSD. Patients with ischemic stroke admitted to a general teaching hospital were enrolled in this 6-month study. The patients were evaluated with the Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 (TAS-20), Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHHS), and Mini-Mental Status Examination at baseline and then followed up each month for detection of PSD using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies of Depression scale. In all, 285 patients with ischemic stroke were enrolled, and 93.3% completed the 6-month study. The overall incidence of PSD within 6 months was 16.5%. In multivariate regression analyses, the incidence of PSD was significantly associated with higher BAI, higher NIHSS, and higher TAS-20 scores. In conclusion, our study highlights the importance of alexithymic symptoms as a risk factor for PSD.

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