Tingling, tingling, contractures or itching, but also burning sensations or sudden electric shock in the legs … Here are the symptoms with which must live the 2 to 8% of the French population suffering from restless legs syndrome , also known as Willis-Ekbom disease.
A new study, conducted by Penn State University in the United States, and published in JAMA Open Network, shows that these uncomfortable, even painful, symptoms do not only affect the quality of sleep: they also degrade the quality of life and can, in the most serious cases, lead to suicide or self-harm.
"Our study suggests that restless legs syndrome is not only related to physical conditions, but also to mental health," says Xiang Gao, associate professor of nutrition science and director of Nutritional Epidemiology Lab at Penn State. . "And since restless legs syndrome is under-diagnosed and suicide rates are rising, this link will become increasingly important.Clinicians should be cautious when examining patients for restless legs syndrome and risk of suicide. "
Risk 2.7 times above average
If until now, researchers had noted that restless legs syndrome was associated with a higher risk of death, they still did not know why. Using data from the Truven Health MarketScan, the authors of the study were able to establish a link between the risk of suicide and self-injury with the syndrome. In total, they reviewed data from nearly 200,000 people between 2006 and 2014. Of these, 24,179 were diagnosed with restless legs syndrome.
After analyzing the data, the researchers found that people with restless legs syndrome were 270% more likely to commit suicide or self-harm than those who did not. The risk did not decrease even when researchers controlled factors such as depression, sleep disorders and common chronic diseases.
"After considering these factors, we still have not seen the association decrease, which means that restless legs syndrome could still be an independent variable contributing to suicide and self-injury," says Muzi Na , Broadhurst Career Development Professor for Penn State's Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Study. "We still do not know the exact reason, but our findings can help shape future research to find out more on the mechanism. "
The researchers will therefore conduct further studies to confirm or not these results.