Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and alexithymia: a pilot study

Abstract

Although the relationship between alexithymia and psychopathology has been studied extensively in adults, research is lacking on alexithymia in childhood psychopathology. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between alexithymia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The Italian version of the Alexithymia Questionnaire for Children was administered to a sample of 50 children with a DSM-IV diagnosis of ADHD, as assessed by means of the K-SADS PL, and to 100 healthy, age- and sex-matched children without ADHD. The total alexithymia score as well as the difficulty in identifying feelings (DIF) and externally oriented thinking factors were significantly associated with ADHD. The total alexithymia score, the DIF, and the difficulty in describing feelings factors were also significantly associated with symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity. No significant relationship between alexithymia and inattentiveness symptoms emerged. Results provide preliminary data on the relationship between alexithymia and ADHD. Findings point to an association between difficulty in identifying emotions and hyperactivity/impulsivity. Future studies conducted on larger patient samples, as well as longitudinal designs, are warranted to confirm our findings.

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Correspondence to Michela Di Trani.

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Donfrancesco, R., Di Trani, M., Gregori, P. et al. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and alexithymia: a pilot study. ADHD Atten Def Hyp Disord 5, 361–367 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12402-013-0115-9

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Keywords

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Alexithymia
  • Children