An Unrecognized Suicide Risk Factor

Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH


June 27, 2018

Hello. I'm Dr Arefa Cassoobhoy, a practicing internist, Medscape advisor, and senior medical director for WebMD. Welcome to Morning Report, our 1-minute news story for primary care.

The relatively common neurologic movement disorder known as restless leg syndrome is poorly understood.

Patients describe uncomfortable sensations in their legs that often are worse at night, having a huge impact on their ability to sleep and overall quality of life.

It now appears that severe restless leg syndrome is a risk factor for suicidal ideation and attempts. The risk correlates with history of depression, and it is independent of the severity of restless leg symptoms and demographic factors.

Is this related to chronic sleep deprivation, stress, or pain? Experts speculate that patients with restless leg syndrome, like those with unrelieved chronic pain, might feel hopeless, leading to suicidal thoughts and actions.

Although evaluating restless leg syndrome and finding effective treatments is challenging, this study suggests that it's important to assess not only the impact of restless leg syndrome on the patient's life, but also the presence of suicidal thoughts.

Follow Dr Cassoobhoy on Twitter at @ArefaMD


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