Alexithymia and cognitive behaviour therapy outcome for subthreshold depression

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Spek V, Nyklíček I, Cuijpers P, Pop V. Alexithymia and cognitive behaviour therapy outcome for subthreshold depression. Objective: 

Alexithymia is hypothesized to be a stable trait that hinders favourable outcomes of psychotherapy. We tested two hypotheses: i) alexithymia is not stable but changes along with a change in depressive symptoms and ii) pretreatment alexithymia hinders gaining benefits from psychotherapy. Method: 

A total of 201 participants (mean age = 54 years, SD = 4.4) with subthreshold depression were treated with cognitive behaviour therapy. Outcome was defined as the change in depressive symptoms from pretreatment to post-treatment and to 1-year follow-up. Results: 

Changes in depressive symptoms were significantly correlated with changes in alexithymia. Baseline alexithymia scores were not correlated with treatment outcome. Conclusion: 

Alexithymia is less stable than hypothesized: changes in alexithymia were associated with change in depressive symptoms. Furthermore, alexithymia does not hinder cognitive behaviour therapy outcome.

Keywords: affective symptoms; depression; treatment outcome

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Medical Psychology, Center of Research on Psychology in Somatic diseases (CoRPS), Tilburg University, Tilburg 2: Department of Clinical Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Publication date: August 1, 2008

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