Alexithymia is a non motornon-motor symptom of essential tremor regardless of the presence of depression and anxiety

Yildizhan Sengul, Hakan Serdar Sengul, Elif Gokcal, Ismet Ustun, Ahmet Ozturk, Onur Yilmaz, Gulsen B. Yildiz, Elan D. Louis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: Essential tremor (ET) is one of the most common movement disorders. Aside from tremor, patients may exhibit other motor features as well as non-motor features, including neuropsychiatric symptoms. The cerebellum and cerebellar connections are thought to play a key role in the pathophysiology of ET. Cognitive and affective disturbances can occur in the context of cerebellar disease. Our aim was to study the prevalence and clinical correlates of alexithymia and its relationship to depression and anxiety in ET patients and control subjects (CS). Method: We enrolled 100 ET patients and 100 age- and gender-matched CS. The Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 (TAS-20), the Beck depression inventory-II and the Beck anxiety inventory were administered. Results: Alexithymia levels were significantly higher in ET patients than CS (respective mean TAS-20 scores = 50.63 ± 9.79 vs. 44.05 ± 12.51, p < 0.001).  There were robust associations between alexithymia, depressive symptoms, and anxiety but, after excluding the ET patients and the CS who had moderate or severe depression or who had moderate or severe anxiety, the total alexithymia score remained significantly higher in the ET than the CS group (46.78 ± 9.19 vs. 41.18 ± 11.79, p ≤ 0.01). Conclusion: This study suggests that prevalence of alexithymia is significantly higher in ET patients. Alexithymia might be another non-motor neuropsychiatric symptom of the disease.  Further studies are needed to confirm and expand upon our findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)946-951
Number of pages6
JournalNeurological Research
StatePublished - 2020


  • Essential tremor
  • alexithymia
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • non-motor symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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