A 16-year prospective study of a general population sample indicates that those who had reported a depression and/or anxiety disorder at baseline experienced 1.5 times the number of deaths expected on the basis of rates for a large reference population. As part of the Stirling County Study (Canada), the information was gathered from 1003 adults through structured interviews and was analyzed by means of a diagnostic computer program. The risk for mortality was assessed using external and internal standards, controlling for the effects of age and sex as well as for the presence of self-reported physical disorders at baseline. Increased risk was found to be significantly associated with affective but not physical disorders and with depression but not generalized anxiety. When this evidence about mortality was combined with information about subsequent psychiatric morbidity among survivors, 82% of those who were depressed at baseline had a poor outcome.
BACKGROUND: In many biomedical disorders, early age at onset (AAO) is an index of high liability to illness which is manifest by an increased risk of illness in relatives. Most but not all prior studies report such a pattern for major depression (MD). METHOD: Lifetime MD and AAO were assessed at personal interview using modified DSM-III-R criteria in 13864 twin pairs, including 4229 onsets of MD, from the Swedish National Twin Registry. Analyses were conducted using Cox proportional hazards models. RESULTS: Controlling for year of birth, gender, zygosity, co-twin history of MD and the interaction of zygosity and co-twin history, the best-fit model showed a significant main effect and a quadratic effect of AAO of MD in the co-twin on the log hazard ratio for MD in the index twin. When examined together, these effects predicted that from the ages of 15 to approximately 35 years, AAO of MD is moderately negatively related to risk of illness in relatives. However, past age 35, the function flattens out, with little change of risk in relatives with further increases of AAO. Even when the co-twin had a late AAO, the risk in the index twin substantially exceeded that seen when the co-twin had no history of MD. CONCLUSION: In this large sample, AAO is a meaningful, albeit modest, index of familial liability to MD. The relationship is nonlinear and results largely from an increased liability in individuals with an early AAO. These results should be interpreted in the context of the limitations of long-term recall.
AIMS: To assess suicide risk associated with alcohol use disorder in elderly men and women, and to examine the role of social stressors in elderly suicides with and without alcohol use disorders. METHODS: This retrospective case-control study included 85 suicide cases aged 65 years and above (46 men, 39 women) and 153 randomly selected population controls (84 men, 69 women). Interviews were carried out with control persons and with informants for the suicide cases. Mental disorders were diagnosed in accordance to DSM-IV. RESULTS: A history of alcohol dependence or misuse was observed in 35% of the elderly men who died by suicide and in 18% of the women. This disorder was uncommon among persons in the control group (2% of the men and 1% of the women). Alcohol use disorder remained an independent predictor of suicide risk in the regression models for both sexes. Among suicide cases, those with alcohol use disorders were younger and less likely to be suffering from severe physical illness (35 vs 63%) than those without this disorder. CONCLUSION: Alcohol use disorder is associated with suicide in elderly men and women. Prevention programmes need to target this important subgroup.
Even though the association between alexithymia and somatization seems plausible according to several studies with selected populations, it has not been verified in carefully controlled and nationally representative population studies. We conducted such a study to find out whether alexithymia is associated with somatization at population level.
This study was a part of the Finnish Health 2000 Study. The nationally representative sample comprised 5129 subjects aged 30 to 97 years. Alexithymia was measured with the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) and somatic symptom reporting with the 12-item somatization scale derived from the Hopkins Symptom Checklist. Sociodemographic and health-related variables, including depressive and anxiety disorders, and physician verified somatic diagnoses, were treated as confounders in multivariate analyses.
Alexithymia was associated with somatization independently of somatic diseases, depression and anxiety and confounding sociodemographic variables. The TAS-20 factor scale "Difficulties Identifying Feelings" was the strongest common denominator between alexithymia and somatization.
This was the first time the independent association between alexithymia and somatization was established in a large, nationally representative nonclinical sample of both young and old adults with and without mental disorders and somatic diseases.
The objective of the present study was to assess alexithymia by means of the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) and The Emotion Protocol (EP) in a group of refugees. Eighty-six subjects were willing to participate. At last follow-up, 33 non-PTSD and 22 PTSD subjects had complete data. Subjects with PTSD had higher scores on the TAS-20 (F = 4.314, df = 77, p = 0.041), but on the subscale level, this was significant only with regard to Factor I, difficulties identifying feelings (F = 5.316, df = 77, p = 0.024). TAS Factor I and to a lower extent TAS Factor II (difficulties naming feelings) were significantly associated with the self-rated presence of dysphoric affects. At follow-up, an increase in TAS Factor I score was associated with increased prevalence of self-rated symptoms of PTSD, but not depression. Decrease in prolactin was associated with significant increase of TAS Factor I (rho = -0.396, n = 54, p = 0.003). The present study indicates that alexithymia as measured by TAS-20 is indeed associated with symptoms of PTSD. This association is almost exclusively explained by the TAS Factor I subscale and is in turn associated with a high level of self-reported dysphoric affect. The longitudinal inverse correlation with prolactin points to the possibility of an underlying disturbance in serotonergic and/or dopaminergic systems. The results thus indicate that secondary, or post-traumatic, alexithymia is a measure of suppressed or warded-off negative affects.
Alexithymia is a personality trait associated with difficulties in identifying feelings, difficulties in describing feelings to other people, constricted imaginal processes, and an externally oriented cognitive style. It has been found to be associated with personality features that may cause interpersonally avoidant behavior and other interpersonal problems. The present study explored, in a sample of primary care patients (N = 491), whether alexithymia is associated with mobile phone usage, and whether the perceived quality and quantity of human relationships mediate its effect. Even controlling for sociodemographic variables and symptoms of depression, mania and psychoses, alexithymia, measured by the 20-Item Toronto Alexithymia Scale, was associated with less frequent mobile phone use. Not having enough relationships or a close friend, and relationships being less satisfactory mediated the effect of alexithymia on less frequent mobile phone use. The results support the findings of earlier studies that have linked interpersonal problems with alexithymia.