The relationship between alexithymia and salivary cortisol levels in somatoform disorders

Pedrosa Gil, Francisco, Bidlingmaier, Martin, Ridout, Nathan, Scheidt, Carl Eduard, Caton, Samantha, Schoechlin, Claudia and Nickel, Marius (2008). The relationship between alexithymia and salivary cortisol levels in somatoform disorders. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 62 (5), pp. 366-373.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate cortisol levels as a function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) in relation to alexithymia in patients with somatoform disorders (SFD). Diurnal salivary cortisol was sampled in 32 patients with SFD who also underwent a psychiatric examination and filled in questionnaires (Toronto Alexithymia Scale, TAS scale; Screening for Somatoform Symptoms, SOMS scale; Hamilton Depression Scale, HAMD). The mean TAS total score in the sample was 55.69.6, 32% of patients being classified as alexithymic on the basis of their TAS scores. Depression scores were moderate (HAMD=13.2, Beck Depression Inventory, BDI=16.5). The patients' alexithymia scores (TAS scale Difficulty identifying feelings) correlated significantly positively with their somatization scale scores (Symptom Checklist-90 Revised, SCL-90-R); r=0.3438 (P0.05) and their scores on the Global Severity Index (GSI) on the SCL-90-R; r=0.781 (P0.01). Regression analysis was performed with cortisol variables as the dependent variables. Cortisol levels [measured by the area under the curve-ground (AUC-G), area under the curve-increase (AUC-I) and morning cortisol (MCS)] were best predicted in a multiple linear regression model by lower depressive scores (HAMD) and more psychopathological symptoms (SCL-90-R). No significant correlations were found between the patients' alexithymia scores (TAS) and cortisol levels. The healthy control group (n=25) demonstrated significantly higher cortisol levels than did the patients with SFD; in both tests P0.001 for AUC-G and AUC-I. However, the two groups did not differ in terms of their mean morning cortisol levels (P0.05). The results suggest that pre-existing hypocortisolism might possibly be associated with SFD.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/08039480801983554
Divisions: Life & Health Sciences > Psychology
Life & Health Sciences > Clinical and Systems Neuroscience
Life & Health Sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords: alexithymia,cortisol,Somatoform disorders,Psychiatry and Mental health
Full Text Link: http://informah ... 039480801983554
Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
Published Date: 2008
Authors: Pedrosa Gil, Francisco
Bidlingmaier, Martin
Ridout, Nathan ( 0000-0002-7111-2996)
Scheidt, Carl Eduard
Caton, Samantha
Schoechlin, Claudia
Nickel, Marius

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