Syncope is a common condition affecting almost one-third of the general population. The present study measures the prevalence of psychiatric traits in patients presenting with syncope (unexplained and vasovagal) and whether recurrent attacks have an impact on psychiatric profiles.
This is a case-control study in a tertiary hospital enrolling all patients aged ≥12 years with single or recurrent syncopal attacks. A self-reporting psychometric questionnaire (The Symptoms Checklist-90-Revised) was used to screen for depression, anxiety, somatization disorder, and phobia. Crude comparisons of average scores were done. Further, multiple logistic regression analyses were carried out to measure the impact of syncope on each psychiatric domain. The control group were matched for age, gender, and chronic illnesses with a ratio of 1:3.
There were 43 cases and 129 control subjects, with predominance of females (67.4%) and an average age of 33.8 years (standard deviation = 16). There were no significant differences in average scores of depression (13 vs 14.53,P= 0.31), anxiety (11.3 vs 10.4,P= 0.51), or phobia (5.4 vs 5.2,P= 0.88). However, the syncope group had a higher average score for somatization disorder (18.53 vs 13.66,P= 0.002). Binary logistic regression model showed that the association between syncope and somatization disorder was independent of competing confounders (odds ratio = 3.75, 95% confidence interval: 1.72, 8.15,P= 0.001). A sub-analysis of the case group showed that patients with multiple syncopal attacks (six or more) had higher average scores of depression, anxiety, phobia, and somatization disorder compared to those who had less than six attacks.
Syncope was independently associated with somatization disorder traits. Further, recurrent syncope resulted in greater deterioration of patients' psychiatric profiles. Thus, taking into account the psychiatric status in the management of such patients is crucial.