The Link Between Restless Legs Syndrome and Depression

The Link Between Restless Legs Syndrome and Depression

Willis-Ekbom Disease, better known as restless legs syndrome (RLS), causes uncomfortable or unpleasant sensations in your legs. This sparks an overpowering urge to move them, hence the restlessness. Specialists estimate 7-10% of Americans have RLS. It occurs in both men and women, although women are more likely to experience the condition. 

It can be extremely difficult to fall or stay asleep if you’re living with RLS. This can cause excessive drowsiness during the day and even depression. In fact, almost 40 percent of RLS sufferers have some type of psychiatric comorbidity, including depression.

Despite this, ongoing leg discomfort shouldn’t stop you from living your life. With two offices in St. Louis, Missouri, Dr. Eric Mai at STL Vein & Cosmetics specializes in diagnosing and treating RLS. Here’s what you need to know about RLS, its link to depression, and how you can reclaim your quality of life.

Symptoms of restless legs syndrome

Restless legs syndrome is a disorder characterized by the sensation of tugging, aching, tingling, or skin-crawling, typically in the calf area. You may also encounter these uncomfortable symptoms in your feet, thighs, or even your arms. 

The primary symptom of RLS, however, is an annoying and unrelenting urge to move your legs due to the uncomfortable sensations you experience. Movement alleviates the symptoms.

Other commonly reported characteristics of RLS include:

Some severe cases of RLS can cause these symptoms to occur during the daytime, but symptoms usually occur at night when you’re most relaxed or lying down. That’s why, If you have RLS, you might find your legs kicking and twitching while you’re trying to sleep. This is called periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD), and four out of five people with RLS also have PLMD. It causes your leg muscles to jerk and contract every 20-40 seconds during sleep. Each movement can last 1-10 seconds. PLMD typically doesn’t awaken the person moving their legs, although their bed partner might notice them throughout the night.

RLS and depression

According to scientists, including researchers from the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, the link between RLS and depression is evident. A majority of RLS sufferers complain of psychological distress due to the disorder. The RLS symptoms lead to sleep deprivation, causing cognitive impairment, insomnia, and decreased wellbeing. 

Fortunately, Dr. Mai creates customized treatment plans to help you feel better and get a better night’s rest. This might include lifestyle changes to ease some of your symptoms. Additionally, medication can also provide relief from RLS. At STL Vein and Cosmetics, our team of specialists will also check for any potential underlying medical conditions, such as vein disease.

Set up an appointment today

Even though RLS does not lead to other serious conditions, symptoms can range from infrequent and minimal to daily and incapacitating. Request a consultation with Dr. Mai today to start living a healthier and more comfortable life.

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