Alexithymia Is Associated with Reduced Quality of Life and Increased Caregiver Burden in Parkinson's Disease.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most frequent neurodegenerative disease of people who are beyond 50 years of age. People with PD (PwP) suffer from a large variety of motor and non-motor symptoms resulting in reduced health-related quality of life (HR-QoL). In the last two decades, alexithymia was identified as an additional non-motor symptom in PD. Alexithymia is defined as a cognitive affective disturbance resulting in difficulty to identify and distinguish feelings from bodily sensations of emotional arousal. In PD, the frequency of patients suffering of alexithymia is increased compared to healthy controls. The aim of the present study was to determine the relationship of alexithymia to HR-QoL of the PwP and caregiver burden of the corresponding caregiver. This cross-sectional questionnaire-based study used disease specific questionnaires for HR-QoL and caregiver burden. In total 119 PwP and their corresponding caregivers were included in the study. HR-QoL of the PwP correlated significantly with alexithymia (p < 0.001), especially the sub-components "identifying feelings" (p < 0.001) and "difficulties describing feelings" (p = 0.001). Caregiver burden also correlated significantly with PwP alexithymia (p < 0.001). However, caregiver burden was associated with sub-components "identifying feelings" (p < 0.008) and "external oriented thinking" (p < 0.004). These data support the importance of alexithymia as a non-motor symptom in PD.