Journal published by the Hellenic
Psychiatric Association

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Over the last decade several studies have discussed the association between serum cholesterol, depressive disorders and suicide. A specific psychological variable related to affect is alexithymia. Alexithymia has been linked to depression and suicidal behaviour. Concerning lipid levels there are several studies that suggest changes in serum lipid composition maybe related to depression and suicidal behaviour. In this study we examined the possible relationship between alexithymia, depression and serum lipids in suicide attempters. We studied 50 non-violent suicide attempters (drug overdosers) with a mean age of 35.0 (±12.2) years. Alexithymia was measured using the Shalling-Sifneos Personality Scale Revised (SSPS-R) and depression using the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). Serum lipids concentrations were determined by enzymatic method within 24h of hospital admission. For the statistical evaluation Spearman’s rank correlation coefficients were used. The mean serum lipid levels were: total serum cholesterol (TC) 175.2 (±29.6) mg/dL, highdensity lipoprotein cholesterol (H-DLC) 47.08 (±13.1) mg/dL, low density lipoprotein cholesterol (L-DLC) 109.5 (±23.5) mg/dL and the mean serum triglycerides (TR) level was 89.4 (±39.1) mg/dL. The mean scores on the questionnaires were: SSPS-R 10.3 (±3.7), MADRS 33.5 (±5.9). There were significant correlations between: (a) SSPS-R score and MADRS score (r=0.439, p<0.001), (b) SSPS-R score and TR level (r=0.323, p<0.05). There were no significant correlations between MADRS score and any of the lipid fractions measured. To our knowledge, only few studies have examined the association between alexithymia and clinical-psychopathological parameters in suicide attempters. There are no previous studies comparing serum lipid profile with alexithymia in suicide attempters. This is the first study to compare at the same time serum lipids, alexithymia and depression in suicide attempters. The results suggest that although there was a strong relationship between alexithymia and depression in suicide attempters only alexithymia was correlated to Serum triglyceride levels.

Key words: Alexithymia, depression, serum lipids, suicide attempt, drug overdose.

K. Paplos, B.J. Havaki-Kontaxaki, P. Ferentinos, M. Dasopoulou, V.P Kontaxakis (page 149) - Full article