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Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2012 Nov-Dec;30(6 Suppl 74):70-7. Epub 2012 Dec 14.

Alexithymia and psychological distress in fibromyalgia: prevalence and relation with quality of life.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Turin, Via Po 14, 10123, Turin, Italy.



Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic syndrome characterised by widespread musculoskeletal pain associated with other symptoms like fatigue, stiffness, non-restorative sleep and psychological distress that strongly affects the quality of life in FM patients. While the psychological distress has been widely explored in FM, only a few studies investigated alexithymia, an emotional dysregulation trait.


Evaluate the prevalence of alexithymia and psychological distress and their impact on patients quality of life.


A battery of tests assessing alexithymia, depression, anxiety, emotional distress symptoms and the health related quality of life (HRQoL) was filled out by 55 female FM patients. After having analysed their prevalence, two regression analyses were performed in order to evaluate the role that alexithymia, depression, anxiety, emotional distress and pain characteristics have on quality of life of FM patients.


Results showed that a clinically relevant level of psychological distress was present in more than half of our sample, whereas alexithymic traits were present in 20% of the patients. Regression analyses showed that pain intensity, depression and current pain were the variables that best contribute to explain the physical component of the HRQoL while anxiety, depression and pain intensity were the variables that mainly contributed to explain the mental component of quality of life.


These results underline the high prevalence of alexithymia in FM patients and the great impact of psychological symptoms on FM patients HRQoL. Wholistic care of FM patients which addresses both physical and psychological symptoms is needed.

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