How are the youth? A brief-longitudinal study on symptoms, alexithymia and expressive suppression among Italian adolescents during COVID-19 pandemic

Int J Psychol. 2022 Dec;57(6):700-708. doi: 10.1002/ijop.12866. Epub 2022 Jun 21.


Studies documented the negative consequences on adolescents' mental health of the stay-at-home measures adopted in reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, few contributions focused on the psychopathological trajectories after the end of these stressful measures or investigated the moderating role of this context in the relationship linking psychological symptoms with emotion regulation. This brief longitudinal study was performed with two measurement times: during the severe lockdown (T1), and when the restrictive measures were relaxed (T2). Ninety-three community adolescents (45% boys; Mage = 14.94 years, SD = 1.64) completed the Youth Self Report, the Social Media Disorder Scale, the Binge Eating Scale, the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire and the Toronto Alexithymia Scale 20 items. Except for binge eating and externalising symptoms, all variables significantly decreased between T1 and T2. The relationship between expressive suppression and binge eating scores significantly decreased across time whereas the link between alexithymia and internalising symptoms increased with time. The study supported the idea that low-risk adolescents experienced psychological relief from the relaxation of stay-at-home measures. Results suggest the importance of considering contextual factors when explaining the role of expressive suppression and alexithymia in binge eating and internalising symptoms among adolescents.

Keywords: Alexithymia; Binge eating; COVID-19; Expressive suppression; Internalizing and externalizing symptoms; Social media addiction.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Affective Symptoms* / epidemiology
  • Affective Symptoms* / psychology
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Pandemics