Alexithymia and fibromyalgia: a systematic review
Fibromyalgia is a chronic musculoskeletal pain syndrome characterized by the presence of painful points on digito-palpation in anatomical specific areas, called trigger points, followed by psychological disorders like sleeping problems and alexithymia. Alexithymia is a dimension defined as the absence of words for emotions. The patient does not know how to process their own emotions and fail to externalize what feels. The investigation of possible relationship between Fibromyalgia and Alexithymia can increase knowledge about the clinical features resulting from both diseases, especially because alexithymia is poorly explored and has a significant impact in patient’s life quality. Objectives: To execute a literature review searching for a clinical association between Alexithymia and Fibromyalgia (FM), highlighting psychiatric and psychological aspects. Methods: Folowing PRISMA statement the research used Scielo, Pubmed, PsychLit and ISIweb of knowledge data base between 2009 and 2014 with the key-words: “alexithymia”, “fibromyalgia”, “psychosomatics”, “chronical pain”, “psycotherapy”, “psychoanalysis”. Results: Nine studies were selected for analysis which used instruments like the Toronto Alexithymia Scale, the psychoanalysis and cognitive comportamental therapy showing that the patient with Alexithymia and FM has a worse pain interpretation, deals badly with it and suffer the consequences in their physical and mental health due to that. Conclusion: This study suggested the important impact that alexithymia has in patients with FM, since the psychiatric and psychological factors lead to a bigger decrease in life quality of people who have already worse aspects in that, which warn for the importance of this emotional state, since it is under-diagnosed. Due to the fact that there were a small number of reviewed articles, more research about the relation between FM and Alexithymia must be done.