Processing Emotions and Anxiety

Health Writer

Alexithymia, or the inability to express emotions in words, may increase the risk of developing panic disorder.   A study completed this past June at the University of Naples found a correlation between alexithymia and the incidence of panic disorder.

Alexithymia is when someone is unable to describe his or her emotions in words. It is thought that they are also unaware of what their emotions are. In short, people with alexithymia have difficulty identifying, understanding or describing their emotions and feelings.

According to the site, there are a number of signs of alexithymia:

*find it difficult to talk about your own emotions

*be perceived by others as excessively logical, or unsentimental without being unfriendly

*be perplexed by other people's emotional reactions

*give pedantic and long-winded answers to practical questions

*rarely daydream or fantasize about personal prospects

*have a subdued reaction to art, literature or music

*make personal decisions according to principles rather than feelings

*suffer occasional inexplicable physiological disturbances such as palpitations, stomach ache, or hot flushes

Although people with alexithymia have difficulty understanding or expressing their emotions, it is not true they do not have emotions. It is thought that because they lack the ability to categorize and understand these emotions, they experience anxiety or depression.

Alexithymia is a relatively new term and has only been introduced since 1972. It is not well known and many psychiatrists and doctors may not view this as a disorder, but as a character trait.

The study completed at the University of Naples showed that people with panic disorder, that are not taking medication, has a higher prevalence rate of alexithymia and a higher degree of difficulty in processing emotional situations.

For more information on Alexithymia:

The Alexithymia FAQ