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Restless Legs Syndrome Linked to Suicide, Self-Harm

MONDAY, Aug. 26, 2019 -- Individuals with restless legs syndrome (RLS) have an increased risk for suicide and self-harm, according to a study published online Aug. 23 in JAMA Network Open.

Sheng Zhuang, M.D., from The Second Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University in Suzhou, China, and colleagues conducted a cohort study involving data for 24,179 nonpregnant participants with RLS and 145,194 age- and sex-matched participants without RLS to examine the correlation between RLS and the risk for suicide and self-harm.

The researchers identified 119 incident suicide and self-harm cases during a mean follow-up of 5.2 years. Compared with those without RLS, individuals with RLS had an increased risk for suicide or self-harm (adjusted hazard ratio, 2.66) after adjustment for lifestyle factors, presence of chronic diseases, and medication use. The significant association persisted after excluding those with depression, insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, and other common chronic conditions (adjusted hazard ratio, 4.14).

"Given the high prevalence of RLS and increasing incidence of suicide in the United States, it may be critical to consider assessment for suicide risk factors and suicidal ideation, as well as potential psychological interventions and suicidal management in the treatment of individuals with RLS," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical technology industries.

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Posted: August 2019