Correlations between alexithymia and pain severity, depression, and anxiety among patients with chronic and episodic migraine


Irem Yalug, MD, Kocaeli Üniversitesi, Tıp Fakültesi, Psikiyatri Anabilim Dalı, 41380, Umuttepe, Kocaeli, Turkey. Email:


Aims:  Some studies have found elevated alexithymia among patients with chronic pain, but the correlations between alexithymia and the severity of pain, depression, and anxiety among migraine patients are unclear. The aims of the present study were to investigate whether individuals suffering from episodic migraine (EM) differ from those with chronic migraine (CM) in regards to depression, anxiety, and alexithymia measures and to investigate the association of alexithymia with the results of depression and anxiety test inventories and illness characteristics.

Methods:  A total of 165 subjects with EM and 135 subjects with CM were studied. The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), State–Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), and Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS) were administered to all subjects. The correlation between alexithymia and sociodemographic variables, family history of migraine and illness characteristics (pain severity, frequency of episode, duration of illness) were evaluated.

Results:  Compared with EM patients, the CM patients had significantly higher scores on measures of depression but not alexithymia and anxiety. There was a positive correlation between TAS scores and age and education in both migraine groups, but there was no correlation between TAS scores and other demographic variables. Depression and anxiety were significantly correlated with alexithymia in both migraine groups.

Conclusion:  Our results indicate that CM patients are considerably more depressive than EM patients. In this study, depression and anxiety were significantly correlated with alexithymia in both migraine groups. Our results demonstrate a positive association between depression, anxiety, and alexithymia in migraine patients.