Alexithymia and somatisation in patients with remitted major depression and their impact on social functioning

Hakan Delibas, Asusinem A. Kirdok, Almila Erol


Objectives: The aim of the present study is to investigate the level of social functioning, alexithymia and somatisation in patients with major depressive disorder who achieved full remission and to examine the impact of alexithymia and somatisation on social functioning in patients with major depression who are in full remission.

Methods: A total of 117 outpatients with major depression and full remission and 42 healthy controls were included in the study. The participants were administrated Affect Underpinned by Severity and Social Impairment Questionnaire (AUSSI) to evaluate social functioning and depressive symptoms, Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS) to evaluate alexithymia and Somatosensory Amplification Scale (SSAS) to evaluate somatisation. Forty-one patients who scored higher or equal to the cut-off score of 5 on the social impairment subscale of AUSSI were classified as having impaired social functioning, whereas 76 patients who scored less than 5 were classified as having unimpaired social functioning.

Results: There were no significant differences between the groups for AUSSI mood symptoms subscale score. Patients with impaired social functioning scored higher than controls on TAS score. Patients with both impaired and unimpaired social functioning scored higher than controls on SSAS scores. The only significant predictor of social impairment in patients with major depression who were in full remission was AUSSI mood symptoms subscale score.

Conclusion: Patients with major depression may still have social impairment after remission. Depressive symptoms are the most important predictors of social functioning in patients with remitted depression. Maximum precautions should be taken to treat depression without leaving any residual symptoms.


depressive disorder; major; social adjustment; alexithymia; somatization

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Submitted: 16 July 2015
Published: 21 October 2016

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South African Journal of Psychiatry    |    ISSN: 1608-9685 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2078-6786 (ONLINE)