Absolute and relative stability of alexithymia in alcoholic inpatients undergoing alcohol withdrawal: relationship to depression and anxiety.Psychiatry Res 2008; 157(1-3):105-13PR
To evaluate whether alexithymia in alcohol-dependent patients is a personality trait or a state-dependent phenomenon related to depression and anxiety, we evaluated absolute stability (the extent to which alexithymia scores change over time) and relative stability (the extent to which relative differences among individuals remain the same over time) of alexithymia during alcohol withdrawal. Seventy alcohol-dependent inpatients were assessed for alexithymia, depression and anxiety with the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory at the onset of withdrawal, after 2 days and 2 weeks. Paired t-tests and correlational analyses were performed to evaluate absolute and relative stability of alexithymia and hierarchical regression analyses to assess whether alexithymia was related to anxiety and depression. Alexithymia decreased significantly from onset to end of withdrawal, but two of its three subfactors remained stable. Alexithymia scores at onset correlated significantly with scores at end, after partialling out the effects of depression and anxiety. In conclusion, the relative stability of alexithymia contrasting with large decreases in depression and anxiety during alcohol withdrawal supports the view that alexithymia is a stable personality trait rather than a state-dependent phenomenon.