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.