Objective: 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).
Participants: Sixty-one patients with mTBI assessed at a mean of 2.38 weeks after injury and demographically matched healthy controls (n = 61).
Measures: Twenty-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale, Anxiety Sensitivity Index, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and Rivermead Post Concussion Questionnaire.
Results: 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.
Conclusion: 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.