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Restless legs syndrome is a distressing movement disorder that, as the name implies, causes uneasiness or twitching in the legs after going to bed. It's a common cause of insomnia, and the mental well-being of people with the disorder is often impaired.
A study from Turkey has now shown that people with restless legs syndrome do indeed have relatively high levels of anxiety and depression.

As described in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, Dr. Serhan Sevim and colleagues from Mersin University, in Turkey, identified 103 people with restless legs syndrome. They were assessed for symptoms of anxiety and depression and compared with 103 unaffected control subjects.

Compared with controls, RLS patients had significantly greater anxiety and depression symptoms. The average anxiety score was 8.03 in the restless legs patients, compared with 5.91 in the controls; the corresponding average depression scores were 9.27 and 5.88, respectively.

Also, the greater the severity of the restless legs syndrome, the more severe were the anxiety and depression symptoms, the researchers report.

"We conclude that assessment of the psychiatric status of restless legs syndrome patients can be helpful and sometimes necessary to determine additional features and treatment strategies of this troublesome condition," Dr. Sevim and colleagues note.

They add that it would be necessary to follow people with restless legs syndrome for a considerable time to establish for sure that anxiety or depression are a consequence of the disorder.

SOURCE: Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry - February 2004.