Alexithymia, suicidal ideation, and serum lipid levels among drug-naive outpatients with obsessive-compulsive disorder

Domenico De Berardis*, Nicola Serroni, Stefano Marini, Gabriella Rapini, Alessandro Carano, Alessandro Valchera, Felice Iasevoli, Monica Mazza, Maria Signorelli, Eugenio Aguglia, Giampaolo Perna, Giovanni Martinotti, Paola A. Varasano, Gabriella Lucidi Pressanti, Massimo Di Giannantonio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Objective: As obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a relatively common psychiatric disorder with a significant suicide risk, the individuation of potential biomarkers of suicidality, such as cholesterol levels, may enable recognition of at-risk subjects. Therefore, the aims of this study were to: 1) evaluate potential differences in clinical and laboratory parameters between patients with and without alexithymia and compare them with healthy controls; and 2) investigate which clinical and laboratory variables were associated with suicidal ideation. Methods: 79 drug-naive adult outpatients with a DSM-IV diagnosis of OCD were recruited. Alexithymia was measured with the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), suicidal ideation was assessed with the Scale for Suicide Ideation, and depressive symptoms were evaluated with the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). Serum lipid levels of 40 healthy controls were also evaluated. Results: Alexithymic patients had altered serum lipid levels in comparison with non-alexithymics and healthy controls. Using a linear regression model, the presence of symmetry/ordering obsessions and compulsions, lower HDL-C levels, and difficulty in identifying feelings dimension of the TAS-20 were associated with higher suicidal ideation. Conclusions: Alexithymic individuals with OCD may exhibit dysregulation of the cholesterol balance, which in turn may be linked to suicidal ideation. Further prospective studies are required to elucidate this potential association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-130
JournalRevista Brasileira de Psiquiatria
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Alexithymia
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • suicide ideation
  • serum lipid levels
  • drug-naive

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