To examine the influence of anxiety sensitivity (AS) and alexithymia as potential mediators for the development of psychological distress and postconcussion syndrome after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).
Sixty-one patients with mTBI assessed at a mean of 2.38 weeks after injury and demographically matched healthy controls (n = 61).
Twenty-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale, Anxiety Sensitivity Index, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and Rivermead Post Concussion Questionnaire.
The mTBI group reported significantly higher levels of AS, alexithymia, psychological distress, and postconcussion (PC) symptom scores than controls. High AS and alexithymia in the mTBI group were associated with a greater number of PC symptoms and higher levels of psychological distress than patients scoring low on these measures and controls. In the mTBI group, a combination of AS and low mood explained 52.6% of the variance in PC symptom reporting. A combination of trait-anxiety, alexithymia, and PC symptoms explained 77.2% of the variance in levels of mood.
A combination of low mood and high AS may act as a psychological diathesis for the development of persisting PC symptoms. Early identification could provide a focus for early intervention to prevent the development of postconcussion syndrome after mTBI.