Restless legs syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a disorder that results in a strong urge to move your leg. It triggers a list of sensations that can be described as itching, creeping, crawling, pulling, burning, tugging, gnawing, and throbbing. Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is attributed to genetic causes and is also associated with numerous diseases, conditions and medications. According to an estimate nearly 10 percent of the population of the United States suffers from RLS.
RLS is considered to be a genetic illness as approximately 92% of the patients inherits this disease from their parents or close relatives. However, there are other reasons which can also play a significant role in contributing towards the disorder such as:
- Uremia (a condition associated with worsening kidney function)
- Low levels of iron (iron deficiency)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Kidney disease
- Peripheral neuropathy
Medications such as allergy drugs, antidepressants and anti-nausea medications can also compound the risk for RLS. On the other hand, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine can also make symptoms worse.
So, is depression a key contributor to this syndrome?
Numerous studies have tried to establish a link between RLS and cognitive mood and function. A study on this was presented last month at the International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders (MDS) Virtual Congress 2021. It revealed that Depression, memory recall and impaired attention are the common signs in patients with restless legs syndrome (RLS) compared with healthy control individuals. It was observed that differences in cognitive function are majorly due to reduced and poor sleep quality.
The study majorly focused on determining the widespread presence of cognitive dysfunction in connection to depression in patients with RLS and to further measure its severity.
The study included data of approximately 520 control participants and 161 patients with RLS. The participants were gauged on a slew of parameters including depression questionnaires, sleep, cognitive testing and movement examination.
Patients suffering from RLS were divided into three categories based on their severity. After getting examined on different parameters it was found that depression is more prevalent in RLS patients, while there were no significant results for mood disorder with increase in severity of RLS. However, sleep quality played a major role in determining the severity of RLS. The researchers concluded that depression is found predominantly in patients with RLS but the severity of depression did not increase with severity of RLS.
How is Restless Leg Syndrome treated?
RLS is treated according to its severity. The medication for RLS include iron supplement, prescription medications including dopamine to control the urge to move, antiseizure medication to relieve pain, Benzodiazepines and opioids to relieve symptoms of RLS.
While other non medication treatment includes:
- Practicing relaxation techniques such as exercise, yoga and meditation
- Incorporating healthy life style such as eating good food and following routine
- Induce good sleeping habits because less sleep worsens symptoms of RLS
- Applying cold compress or heating pad
- Trying magnesium supplements
- Reduce and manage stress in life
- Massage and acupressure for relieving pain
- Can treating depression relieve symptoms of Restlessness Leg Syndrome?
Acute sleep regression due to the onset of RLS symptoms is a primary complaint of patients with severe or moderate RLS and may significantly contribute to the emergence of depressive symptoms. It is difficult to diagnose depressive disorder in patients with RLS due to overlap of symptoms in the two disorders as sleep regression or insomnia occurs frequently in both depression and RLS.
How we can help
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