Posttraumatic Stress and Alexithymia: Symptom Associations

Andrea Putica, Meaghan L. O'Donnell, James Agathos, Kim L. Felmingham, Isabel Krug, Nicholas T. Van Dam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


There is a demonstrated association between alexithymia and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, work has largely focused on male-dominant, high-risk occupation populations. We aimed to explore the relationship between posttraumatic stress (PTS) and alexithymia among 100 trauma-exposed female university students. Participants completed a Life Events Checklist, the PTSD Checklist for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth Edition) (PCL-5), and the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20). Multiple regressions were run to examine whether alexithymia was associated with each of the PCL-5 subscales. The TAS-20 total scores were associated with total PTS scores, β = 0.47, t(99) = 5.22, p < 0.001. On a subscale level, Difficulty in Identifying Feelings (DIF) was positively associated (β = 0.50 to 0.41) with all PCL-5 subscales except for Avoidance. Our results align with research showing that for women, the DIF subscale is most strongly associated with PTS, in contrast with the literature on male samples, showing strongest associations with the Difficulties in Describing Feelings subscale, suggesting sex differences in associations between PTS and alexithymia. Our study supports the universality of the associations between alexithymia and PTS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)752-758
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Alexithymia
  • emotional clarity
  • posttraumatic stress
  • trauma


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