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Psychiatric Comorbidities in RLS

Do you suffer from anxious legs? Bouncing them around while sitting, laying down, or standing? Or the feeling that you just can’t keep them still? If so, you’re not alone.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common condition, and while it can be annoying and disruptive, for some people, it can be downright debilitating. 

In this blog post, we will discuss what RLS is, how it can manifest, how it’s linked to psychiatric comorbidities, and how to get treatment for both conditions.

What Is RLS?

RLS is a condition that causes an irresistible urge to move one’s legs. This urge is usually accompanied by a tingling, prickling, or crawling sensation. 

The sensations often occur in the evening or nighttime hours when a person is trying to relax or sleep. Moving the legs relieves the discomfort temporarily, but the symptoms return as soon as the person stops moving.

RLS can leave patients with serious issues, especially related to sleep. 

Since the condition is often worse at night, it can cause insomnia, which leads to sleep deprivation. This can then lead to fatigue during the day, anxiousness, and even depression.

RLS affects both men and women of all ages, and it is estimated that RLS affects about 5% of the entire U.S. population, with 10% of U.S. adults over 65 suffering from it.

RLS is also linked to certain psychiatric disorders. Studies have shown that people with RLS are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression than those without RLS.

What Causes RLS?

The exact cause of RLS is unknown, but there are certain risk factors that are associated with the condition. These include:

Family History

If you have a family member with RLS, you’re more likely to develop the condition.


RLS is more common in adults over the age of 65.

Iron Deficiency

People with low iron levels in their blood are at a higher risk of developing RLS.

Chronic Diseases

Conditions like Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and kidney failure can increase your risk of RLS.


Pregnancy can also trigger RLS symptoms. Up to 20% of pregnant women will experience RLS during their pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester.

What Are Comorbidities?

Comorbidity is the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions in a patient. These conditions can range from physical to psychological. 

Comorbidities are quite common, especially in patients with chronic illnesses. While any chronic illness can lead to comorbidities, there are certain disorders that are more likely to cause them. 

The most common physical comorbidities include:

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease

Psychiatric comorbidity is where the patient is diagnosed with at least one psychological condition that affects the person’s mind. 

These include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Substance abuse

Psychiatric comorbidities can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. They can also complicate treatment and make it more challenging to manage the underlying condition.

In the case of RLS, this would be the presence of RLS and a psychiatric disorder, such as anxiety or depression.

Comorbidities are also associated with an increased risk of mortality. This is especially true for comorbidities that involve mental health disorders.

How Do Psychiatric Comorbidities Link With RLS?

There are several theories about why RLS is linked to psychiatric disorders. One suggests that the chronic stress of living with a medical condition like RLS can lead to anxiety and depression. 

Another theory suggests that there may be a genetic link between RLS and psychiatric disorders. 

There is also evidence that RLS and psychiatric disorders share common risk factors, such as those mentioned above. 

Whatever the cause, the link between RLS and psychiatric comorbidities is clear. You’re more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders if you have RLS.

What Treatments Are Available?

The good news is that there are treatments available for both conditions.

While RLS doesn’t have a cure, many treatments can help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.

Treatments for RLS typically focus on relieving the symptoms of the condition. These include:

  • Medications
  • Exercise
  • Massage
  • Yoga

These symptoms need to be specifically diagnosed by your healthcare professional. Depending on the diagnosis, there are a number of treatment options available for different comorbidities.

For comorbidities like anxiety, depression, or substance abuse, treatments typically involve:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication management
  • Pharmacogenomics
  • Ketamine infusions
  • Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP)

If you suffer from RLS, it’s essential to be aware of the increased risk of psychiatric comorbidities.

Vitality Psychiatric Can Help

At Vitality Psychiatric, we care about getting the treatment for the comorbidities you or a loved one are suffering from. We offer a range of therapies to help you manage your RLS and any associated comorbidities.

Our team addresses these conditions with personalized mental health care and treatments. 

We start with a comprehensive assessment to develop a detailed treatment plan. We also provide ongoing support and care to ensure that you can manage your RLS and comorbidities effectively.

Compassion and empathy are how we approach treatment for all our patients, no matter how pronounced the comorbidities are or which ones you suffer from.

We work with our partners at West Texas Ketamine to offer ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP), which has shown to be an effective treatment for RLS and comorbidities like anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

If you want to learn more about our services, including how ketamine treatment works, what new patients can expect, or just want general information on treatments we have available, you can book a free consultation with our team anytime.

We understand how difficult it can be to live with RLS and any associated comorbidities. 

Our goal is to help you or your loved one manage these conditions effectively so that you can enjoy your life to the fullest.

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