Alexithymia and psychopathological symptoms in adolescent outpatients and mothers suffering from migraines: a case control study

Rita Cerutti, Carmela Valastro, Samuela Tarantino, Massimiliano Valeriani, Noemi Faedda, Valentina Spensieri, Vincenzo Guidetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Headache is a common disorder affecting a growing number of children and adolescents. In recent years, there has been an increase in scientific interest in exploring the relationship between migraine and emotional regulation, and in particular, the impact of emotional dysregulation on mental and physical health. The present study aims to explore the relationship between migraine and alexithymia among adolescents and their mothers as well as the impact of this association on mental health. An additional aim is to verify whether alexithymia may be a predictor of psychopathological symptoms in adolescents and mothers with migraines. Methods: A total of 212 subjects were involved in this study. The sample was divided into (a) Experimental Group (EG) consisting of 106 subjects (53 adolescents and 53 mothers) with a diagnosis of migraine according to International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD-3) and (b) Control Group (CG) including 106 subjects (53 adolescents and 53 mothers) without a diagnosis of migraine. All participants completed the Toronto Alexithymia Scale to assess alexithymia and the Symptom Checklist-90-R to assess psychopathological symptoms. Results: Higher rates of alexithymia were found in the adolescents and mothers of the EG in comparison to the adolescents and mothers of the CG. Furthermore, adolescents and mothers experiencing both migraine and alexithymia, demonstrated a higher risk of psychopathology. Conclusions: Findings from this study provide evidence that the co-occurrence of migraine and alexithymia increases the risk of psychopathology for both adolescents and their mothers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number39
JournalJournal of Headache and Pain
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2016

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Alexithymia
  • Migraine
  • Mothers
  • Psychopathological risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology

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