Temporal stability is a basic assumption underlying any personality trait construct. Previous research on the stability of alexithymia has led to a controversy over whether alexithymia should be viewed as a state-dependent phenomenon or as a stable personality trait. The aim of this 5-year longitudinal study was to examine the temporal stability of alexithymia in the general population in Finland.
Alexithymia was measured with the 20-Item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) at the baseline and 5 years later.
The test-retest correlations of the TAS-20 total and factor-specific scores at the baseline and at the 5-year follow-up ranged from moderate to high in both genders, reflecting a rather high relative stability of the TAS-20 scores over a period of 5 years.
The findings of our study suggest that alexithymia behaves like a stable personality trait in the general population.
Alexithymic characteristics were assessed by the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS), a self-report measure of alexithymia, in 230 consecutive outpatients referred to a psychiatric consultation-liaison service. The prevalence of alexithymia was 37.8% (50.5% in men and 28.2% in women). Alexithymia was significantly associated with the following variables: male gender, low socioeconomic status, the presence of psychiatric disorder, especially depression, with old age and with a high level of psychological distress. No significant association between alexithymia and the presence of somatic illness was found.
We investigated if alexithymia, a personality construct with difficulties in emotional processing, is stable in the general population.
Altogether 3083 unselected subjects aged 30 and older in Finland completed the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) in the longitudinal Health 2000 and Health 2011 general population surveys (BRIF8901). The stability of alexithymia at the 11-year follow-up was assessed with t-tests, correlations, and separate linear regression models with base-line and follow-up age, gender, marital status, education, and 12-month depressive and anxiety disorders as confounders.
The mean score (SD) of the TAS-20 for the whole sample was 44.2 (10.4) in 2000 and 44.2 (10.9) in 2011 (p=0.731). The mean score of the TAS-20 subscale Difficulty Identifying Feelings increased by 0.3 points, Difficulty Describing Feelings decreased by 0.6 points and Externally Oriented Thinking increased by 0.3 points. The effect sizes of the changes varied from negligible to small. Age had little effect except for the group of the oldest subjects (75-97years): the TAS-20 mean (SD) score was 49.1 (10.1) in 2000 and 53.1 (10.3) in 2011 (p
During the period 1987-1994 there has been a threefold increase in disability pensions granted to individuals with affective disorders in Finland. Possible reasons for this development include a deep economic recession, changes in the diagnostic system, and better recognition of affective disorders. Against this background, it seems relevant to ask why, over the same period, the functional capacity of depressive patients has markedly deteriorated, causing an increase in disability pensions, despite the fact that many new drugs and other treatments have become available.
The objective of the study was to investigate the prevalence of depressive symptoms and the self-reported psychiatric treatment after myocardial infarction.
Depressive symptoms and medication were studied in 85 consecutive acute myocardial infarction patients during 18 months follow-up. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI).
The proportion of patients with depressive symptoms (BDI >/= 10) was 21.2% while in hospital, 30.0% at 6 months and 33.9% at 18 months. At 18 months, none of the patients were receiving adequate antidepressive medication. There were eight patients with BDI scores corresponding to moderate/severe depression (BDI >/= 19). Six of these patients were receiving benzodiazepine medication and two of them had been treated in the mental health care system after the myocardial infarction.
There seems to be considerable problems in the diagnosis and/or treatment of depression after myocardial infarction.
The prevalence of alexithymia and its association with sociodemographic variables were studied in a sample of 1285 subjects representing the general population of Finland. Alexithymia was measured with the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20). Alexithymia was normally distributed in the population in both genders, confirming that it is a personality dimension. The prevalence of alexithymia was 13%. Men were alexithymic almost twice (17%) as often as women (10%). Multivariate analysis showed that alexithymia was associated with male gender, advanced age, low educational level, and low socioeconomic status. As to the three factors of the TAS-20, men scored higher in factors 2 (difficulty in describing feelings) and 3 (externally oriented thinking). but there was no gender difference in factor 1 (difficulty in identifying feelings). Comparative population studies in other countries are needed to find out whether there are any differences in the prevalence of alexithymia between cultures.