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J Psychosom Res. 1995 Nov;39(8):987-94.

Alexithymia in essential hypertensive and psychiatric outpatients: a comparative study.

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2nd Psychiatric Clinic, University of Bari, Italy.


The purported association between alexithymia and essential hypertension was investigated in a sample of 114 hypertensive patients using the well-validated twenty-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale. Alexithymia was also assessed in a group of 113 general psychiatric outpatients and in a group of 130 normal adults. A rate of 55.3% of alexithymia was found in the hypertensive group compared with significantly lower rates of 32.7% in the psychiatric group and 16.3% in the normal controls. The results support the view that a high prevalence of alexithymia may be found among patients with disorders that were categorized in the past as "classical" psychosomatic diseases. It is hypothesized that a deficit in the cognitive processing and modulation of emotions may leave alexithymic individuals prone to states of heightened sympathetic arousal that are conducive to the development of essential hypertension.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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