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Keywords:

  • alexithymia;
  • depression;
  • fatigue;
  • multiple sclerosis

Objective –  The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of alexithymia in a sample of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and to further evaluate the association between alexithymia and the occurrence of common disabling MS-related symptoms such as fatigue and depression.

Methods –  Fifty-eight relapsing–remitting MS patients treated with interferon (IFN)-beta-1a underwent a complete neurological evaluation, including Expanded Disability Status Scale score assessment. Alexithymia, depressive symptoms and fatigue were assessed using the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale, Beck Depression Inventory and Fatigue Severity Scale.

Results –  Prevalence of alexithymia was 13.8%, with 27.6% of patients presenting borderline alexithymia. Sixty-seven per cent of the patients complained of fatigue while 29.3% of them were depressed. Higher levels of fatigue and depression were found in alexithymic patients when compared with non-alexithymic patients. Results from logistic regressions showed that alexithymia significantly contributes to the severity of fatigue and depression.

Conclusions –  Alexithymia was associated with increased severity of fatigue and depression.