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ALEXITHYMIA AND PSYCHIATRIC SYMPTOMS IN A POPULATION OF NURSERY WORKERS: A STUDY USING THE 20-ITEM TORONTO ALEXITHYMIA SCALE

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Abstract:

This study investigated alexithymia in a sample of professional nursery workers in Huddinge community, Sweden. In a previous study in general practice it was found that alexithymia, in a mixed population seeking medical advice, was associated with higher age, male gender, low education and the personality traits suspicion and distance as well as undetected depression. The choice of a professional female population allowed alexithymia to be studied in a refined way without the impact of some of the confounding elements of previous studies. The six variables investigated apart from alexithymia were feelings of well-being, symptoms of somatic and psychic anxiety, depressive symptoms, gastro-intestinal symptoms, and level of social dysfunction. The prevalence of alexithymia was 7.9%. Fifty percent of the items assessing somatic anxiety and 28.5% of those assessing depressive symptoms were related to high TAS- 20 scores in this healthy all-female population. The feeling factors of TAS-20, difficulty in identifying and expressing feelings, accounted in this study for the majority of relations to the other variables whilst the third factor, externally oriented thinking, remained independent and mainly nonrelated to the other measured variables. It had been hypothesised that a deficit in the cognitive processing and modulation of emotions may leave alexithymic individuals prone to states of heightened sympathetic arousal. Confirmation of these theories was found in this study where subjects expressing high levels of vegetative and visceral symptoms of anxiety also scored high for alexithymia and depressive symptoms.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2001.29.5.491

Publication date: 2001-01-01

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