Alexithymia and Its Associations With Depression, Suicidality, and Aggression: An Overview of the Literature

Conclusion It is clear that clinically, there is still much to be learnt about alexithymia and its relationship with a range of related phenomena. Firstly, is alexithymia a continuous and stable trait independent of psychological or somatic symptomology that is developed during childhood? Or is it instead a reactive state induced by trauma and distress at any age, which serves to defend against intense and upsetting emotions? This impacts on treatment options. For example, should we be focussing on early childhood interventions which target the child's emotional environment and parenting to encourage emotional expression? Or should we instead be treating alexithymia after it has occurred—perhaps through teaching elements of emotional intelligence following the experience of a traumatic event? Given this inconclusive evidence on the etiology of alexithymia, it is important for future research to explore this issue in greater detail. Such research would benefit from a longitudinal prospective design which aims to test the stability of alexithymia over a long period of time, and also measure concomitant psychopathology. Analysis should aim to investigate the interplay between psychopathology symptoms and alexithymia symptoms. Second, we need to learn more about how alexithymia relates to other constructs. Alexithymia is thought to be closely and intrinsically related to depression, suicide and aggression. The relationships between these phenomena also have impli...
Source: Frontiers in Psychiatry - Category: Psychiatry Source Type: research

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