Somatization and Alexithymia in Young Adult Finnish Population

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. Jul-Aug 2005;27(4):244-9. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2005.04.005.


Background: We assessed alexithymia and alexithymic features among young adult subjects with and without somatization symptoms in an epidemiological setting with a sample of young adults.

Methods: The sample consisted of urban 31-year-old subjects (N=1002). Data on somatization were gathered from a review of all public health outpatient records. Subjects with four or more somatization symptoms according to the DSM-III-R criteria were considered somatizers. The 20-item version of the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) was used to measure alexithymia. Subjects with a total TAS score over 60 were considered as being alexithymic, and those with a score under 52 were considered nonalexithymic. Subjects with a total TAS score from 52 to 60 were considered as having alexithymic features.

Results: The prevalence of alexithymia was 6.0% among somatizers and 4.8% among subjects without somatization symptoms, and the prevalence of alexithymic features was 7.5% and 12.6%, respectively.

Conclusions: No association was found between alexithymia and somatization in young adult general population. The earlier theory of the association between alexithymia and somatization may be questionable.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / diagnosis*
  • Affective Symptoms / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Audit
  • Prevalence
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Somatoform Disorders / epidemiology
  • Urban Population