The relationship between alexithymia and general symptoms of pregnant women

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Introduction. Alexithymia is related to poor emotion regulation strategies as well as higher rates of somatic disorders. The aim of the present study was to assess the relationship between alexithymia and the general symptoms experienced by the pregnant women.

Material and Methods. In a cross-sectional study, a total number of 350 pregnant women, attending the antenatal clinics, were randomly selected. A standardized Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) was used to elicit responses from participants with alexithymia. The general symptoms scores were measured using the Iranian version of the Symptom Checklist-90-Revised, 90 items. The statistical associations between alexithymia and the general symptoms were then investigated through liner regression.

Results. A total number of 186 of pregnant women with alexithymia were compared with the 164 cases without alexithymia. The high scores on Total Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 and the difficulties to identify feelings emerged as major predictors for the current psychopathology on all SCL-90-R subscales. The difficulty in describing feelings features of alexithymia is positively associated with interpersonal sensitivity and paranoid ideation, but it is inversely associated with the phobic anxiety dimension.

Conclusion. This study showed that the pregnant women with difficulty in describing feelings features of alexithymia are likely to show a broad range of psychopathology. Therefore, it is necessary to emphasize the benefits of specific psychotherapeutic techniques to improve self-differentiation so that we can reduce the likelihood of mental illnesses in pregnant women.

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