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Research and Advances in Psychiatry

Depressive symptoms in adolescence: the role of gender and personality traits

Original Article, 9 - 16
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Objectives: aim of this study was to investigate the relationship among alexithymic traits, depressive symptoms, and temperament and character in adolescence, focusing on gender differences.
Methods: 546 high school Italian students, mean age 14.2 years, completed the following self-rating questionnaires in an anonymous way: Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI).
Results: the prevalence of alexithymia was 5.2% in total sample and did not significantly vary between sexes. Female scored significantly higher than males in Difficulty in Identifying Feelings (DIF) TAS-20 subscale, BDI total score, and four out of seven TCI subscales: Harm Avoidance (HA), Reward Dependence (RD), Cooperativeness (C) and Self-Transcendence (ST). Correlation analysis showed that in both sexes BDI correlated positively with DIF and HA, negatively with C and Self Directedness (SD), whereas a positive correlation between BDI and ST was observed in females only.
Conclusions: our results suggest that during adolescence females experience a higher rate of depressive symptoms, with respect to age-matched males. Gender-specific alexithymic, character and temperamental traits were also found and their role in the development of depressive symptoms was discussed.

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