Suicidal thought and behavior in individuals with restless legs syndrome

Kiran Sai Para, Christopher A. Chow, Keerthana Nalamada, Vikramjeet M. Kakade, Priyanka Chilakamarri, Elan D. Louis, Brian B. Koo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is associated with an unrelenting urge to move at night, which can cause chronic sleeplessness, depression, and despondency; thus increasing risk of suicide. We aimed to determine frequency of suicidal ideation and behavior in RLS. Methods: RLS and control participants were recruited through community and RLS Foundation advertisements. RLS diagnosis was confirmed using the Cambridge–Hopkins RLS Questionnaire and severity was assessed using the International RLS Study Group Severity Scale (IRLSS). Lifetime suicidal ideation (plan) and behavior (attempt) was assessed using the Suicidal Behavior Questionnaire-revised. The Brief Lifetime Depression Scale evaluated lifetime depression history. Forward stepwise logistic regression determined the odds of suicidal ideation or behavior. Results: In this study, 192 RLS and 158 control participants were comparable for age, sex, race, and other potential demographic confounders. In general, RLS was moderate-to-severe (mean IRLSS 26.4 ± 7.5). Significantly more RLS than control participants had lifetime suicidal ideation or behavior (27.1% vs. 7.0%; p < 0.00001) or lifetime depression history (65.6%% vs. 22.8%; p < 0.00001). The odds of having a lifetime suicidal ideation or behavior was higher in those with RLS [2.80 (1.29,6.11)], even after accounting for depression and other confounders. In RLS, the odds of lifetime suicidal ideation or behavior was increased if there was lifetime depression [7.37 (2.65,20.47)] or if RLS in the past was severe or very severe [2.36 (1.03,5.40)]. Conclusions: Lifetime suicidal ideation or behavior is prevalent in RLS sufferers, and its likelihood is dependent on RLS severity and depression history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalSleep Medicine
StatePublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Depression
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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