Original Investigation

Alexithymia in Fibromyalgia Patients and Its Impact on the Quality of Life


  • Yeşim Garip
  • Dilek Öztaş
  • Özgül Bozkurt Tuncer
  • Şükran Telci

Received Date: 25.06.2015 Accepted Date: 21.10.2015 İstanbul Med J 2015;16(4):137-140


Alexithymia, a personal trait characterized by difficulty in identifying feelings, is common among chronic pain patients. In our study, we aimed to assess alexithymia in patients with fibromyalgia (FM), to determine its association with clinical parameters and depression, and to analyze its impact on the quality of life.


A total of 70 patients with FM and 40 age- and sex-matched healthy controls were included in the study. Alexithymia was assessed using the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20). The Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) was used for measuring disease severity. The quality of life was evaluated using the Nottingham Health Profile (NHP) and depression by the Beck Depression Scale (BDS). The Visual Analog Scale (VAS) was used for determining pain severity.


The prevalence of alexithymia was 24.29% in FM patients and 7.5% in controls. It was higher in patients with FM than in controls [Odds ratio (OR)=3.96, confidence interval (CI) 95% (1.08–14.48)] (p=0.028). FM patients scored significantly higher in TAS-20 than the controls (p<0.01). TAS-20 was found to be correlated with FIQ, BDS, and pain, sleep, social isolation, and emotional reaction subgroups of NHP (r: 0.257, 0.503, 0.276, 0.260, 0.649, and 0.303 r espectively) (p<0.05).


Alexithymia is common among FM patients and associated with disease severity, depression, and poor quality of life with respect to pain, sleep, and emotional and social functions. The assessment of the presence of alexithymia will help us find new treatment strategies in FM patients who are nonresponsive to conventional therapies.

Keywords: Alexithymia, fibromyalgia, pain, quality of life