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Restless Legs Syndrome
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rls and other stuff

I have often wondered about the connection of rls and other psychological stuff. I am a recovering alcoholic of 14 years and started drinking at 15. my rls started when i was a kid. does anyone think like i do or have any theories about the physical link (maybe dopamine) of rls and addiction where dopamine is also involved. It makes me think of a genetic connection which comes out in us in various ways. I`ve also sometimes noticed that my rls was always worse when I was not happy with something in my life and its maybe a mental health connection to "run away"

i dont think Ive explained this very well but I hope you can understand!

Just as an aside..I stuck with my ssri`s on my docs advice. the rls got very bad , but its now settled down again. It seemed to argue with the drugs for a couple of months and now its given in.!!! I take a codeine when it gets bad and all seems bearable at the mo!

Thankyou all for listening!!

32 Replies

ha ha ...thanks for replying...have a good day!!


there was a comment before (not the anon one) but its gone !


i deleted it


Ah...ok. no problem I hope x


I think you raise a very good point! I wonder if there have been any studies, because problems with Dopamine seem to be indicated in many addictions. Well done for getting off the alcohol I am sure it was not easy, best wishes Cazx


thankyou x when i win the lottery i am going to initiate a lot of studies!!!


i have never drunk much alcohol, thank goodness, but i know a few family members who have, and seen how hard it was for one person in particular , he tried to stopped drinking, but didnt win, so thats great that you are recovering, stay that way x


Many thanks. Sorry about your relative , I've lost friends too.

I just find it interesting...the relation between various chemical imbalances and rls/addiction/depression. That's another point....do we get depressed because of our rls or can it be related to the imbalance of dopamine. Just wondered what other people thought.


speaking for myself, im usually happy and carefree, but when the rls plays up, as its doing lately, then it gets my down, it seems to set everything else of :(


If you are sleep deprived and exhausted then that can lead to depression when having RLS. When going to see a doctor, some just want to give you anti-depressants, when you describe how you are feeling... If you are sleeping at night and not sleep deprived, then you most likely will not feel depressed. But depression can hit people for various other reasons.


As far as i know, RLS and addictions are not connected... Also when we get stressed with things that are happening in ours lives, that can make the RLS worse, nothing to do with mental health that i am aware of...


No elisse I didn't really mean that rls and addiction are connected at all...I can't really get across what I do mean. Sorry.. its just based on what I've looked into regarding myself. If I have a defective dopamine gene, that goes a long way to explaining my various issues. Rls from an early age,a tendancy to depression through my life ,addiction,obsessive behavior..all these things can be traced back to dopamine regulation. Sorry I sound a real fruit loop!!! I am 54 so have had lots of history but am quite well. B Alanced now..ha ha ..honest. I just feel there is a lot I could learn and wondered if anybody has had similar thoughts.


Well, I think I kind of get what you are talking about. First, I would like to say, that in my opinion and experiences from talknig to LOTS of people over the years, the sleep deprivation comes first, and then as you try and get it treated, etc, the depression can set in, and that is physical and psychological side effect of RLS. Dopamine is a physical thing that can cause psychological like problems. For example, some people taking dopamine agonists and they develop compulsive behavior patterns, whether it be addiction to a substance, obsessive gambling, shopping, eating, etc. So, dopamine levels can alter our behaviors, but only in SOME people, not all. I personally know that when I was 14 and my RLS started after I broke my back, I was not depressed in any way. It was not severe back then. But by 1997, I was going insane with RLS progressing and that is when my doctor put me on a tricyclic antidpressant whihc kicked it into high gear. My back injury "activated" the RLS gene ( my theory, but there are studies, too) and the wrong med at the wrong time sent my RLS into a tailspin. I did not have any depression or psychological issues until I was 35 or so. I also went thru a year of painful rehab after I tore my knee out, broke 6 ribs, and my ankle falling thru a trap door. My RLS went insane after that, and that is when I found out that the pain meds were the only thing stopping my RLS when we got the dose right. I am rambling now, but I do kind of get whta you are saying. we also can have things wrong that have nothing to do with RLS itself, but I never would have a diagnosis of agoraphobic panic disorder if I had not had such pain and such sleep deprivation from the RLS< PLMD. But, I would not usually say that RLS could considered psychological in any way, but other things can make it seem like that. I do know that if I am calmer and do my deep breathing exercises, get my heart rate down, and meditate, I can cope with the RLS better, and with all the other "stuff". :)

I would also like to say well done on your sobriety. I was married to a man who went through rehab for drugs and alcohol 3 times and it never stuck. He did stop drinking, but, he just did more drugs! not productive at all! :) So, yes, dopamine can do weird things physically to our brains, thta manifest themselves as psychological, but are caused by something that is actually physical. Am I explaining that ok? LOL I have no idea!

Oh, and in some studies they have been studying the "excitbility of spinal fluid" in RLS and PLMD, with sleep studies showing that the more leg movements you have when you are sleeping, the more "excitable" the spinal fluid. I have always felt that my RLS starts in my back. I feel it there first, and then it goes quickly to my legs, one or both if I do not catch it in time. Then, all heck breaks loose with it in the arms and shoulders as well.


Hi thedragon, seems i didnt quite get what you meant... :( lol.. nightdancer has more experience with some stuff than i do, so her comments are more helpful... :)


Hi I myself have just had a period of total sleep depervision with NO sleep,

for the last few day mainly due to a huge RLS out break + with my OCD,

+Pi-Bolar all i need was sleep + marched myself of to the docotrs surgery,

+ for the forth time in 18mth's got some sleeping pills, which fainally did,

get me some very much need sleep. I'm allready on anti-deperesion pills,

+ there is NO way i would want to come off them + i know somw of them,

can caurse RLS, I'm on gapapentin+Tramadol + most of the time both,

these meds seem to help most nights???, so us RLS suffers have other,

underlying causes that lead us to RLS + onces its here it seems to like it,

+doesnt want to leave.


RLS is so screwy.. There is so much alcoholism in my family that without

taking more than 1 or 2 drinks in my entire life, I am included in that

category. (alcoholic) I grew up in Al-anon.

My life is never very happy without sleep (like it's 140 am here) I'm

sick of fighting against this disease but like all of you, I truck onward

and hope that someday someone puts two and two together and

finds the reason for RLS, a cure for all of us. =)


Well dragon, I can empathise with you. I have been sober for 8 years now, so I know where you're coming from. My RLS started after major surgery in 1984, before I hit the booze.

I can relate to the depression starting it off, as I experienced more severe symptoms when I suffered from depression after going sober. I have an extremely patient and friendly GP who has helped through it all and luckily prescribed the right medications for my RLS and depression. I still take Citalopram for the depression, but nothing like the dosage of a few years ago.


Personally, I find stress is a major cause of a worsening of my RLS, along with sleep depravation - which is a catch 22 as the worse the RLS is, the less I sleep etc etc...I also suffer from chronic pain from diabetic neuropathy. My GP has just started me on slow release morphine, which is helping me to sleep and I've noticed the RLS has been less prevalent....


I am also a recovering alcoholic (29 years) and have had rls for most of my life (now 52), and i had no symptoms for a few years when i was very happy. However if you are interested i found an article from a doctor (cant remember who) who suggested it was inflammation of the walls of the veins in the legs (weird i know) and recommended the following;

Cayenne (500mg), Curcumin (500mg), Devils Claw (2000 mg), Ginger Root (550 mg),Licorice DGL, St Johns Wart (all homeopathic meds) take twice a day.

Plus: Magnesium (500mg), Zinc (15mg) (1 hour before bed)Alternatively All of the above once a day plus pramipexole,

as i was so desperate (suicidal) i tried it and it has saved my life,

good luck, Dave


Lots of those things are anti-inflammatory (homeopathic) That

combination right there is probably as effective as a prescription

pain pill...I have known others to take that who have arthritis..

and they swear by it... St Johns Wart is in line with some of the

serotonin receptors..so ask before you take that one if you are

on any kind of anti-depressant. The mix can be very dangerous.

Zinc is a new one that I haven't heard of...will ask my doctor if and

how much I can take.

Thanks for the great tips. =)

Karen USA


hmmm, i have heard that devils claw is good for arthritus also


Thank you for all your replies...its all really interesting to hear everyone's stories and ideas and I don't feel alone anymore coping with this stuff. Everyone tries to understand and help me with my rambli.vs. ill write more soon when I get on my big machine thing x x. Love to all


I can't fix spellings on my phone if I write too much x


dont worry about the spelling...until you get as bad as me that is :)


We need a "like" button....


oo i was just thinking that myself !!!


Right..lets see if I can put my theory more clearly. we have rls/sleeplessness/depression/addiction and interestingly enough as someone else wrote..hypothyroidism. These can all be issues or their own or related to each other. Dopamine is involved (usually) in all these conditions. So if I did not have a faulty dopamine gene or incorrect dopamine workings then maybe I would not have a problem with all of the above. (believe it or not I take thyroxine and rls and thyroid problems are not linked). Ive had rls since I was a kid, But had no triggers like accidents as some people. and had tendencies all my life to depression, even as a child I was insecure and scared. I believe the addiction was an explosion waiting to happen all my life, just needed an excuse, and Ive taken thyroxine for about 25years.

I know that the rls/sleep /depression is linked for me now cos the rls has got worse with age . but as a kid it did not cause too many problems.

Its just a theory that fits me and I would love to have the cash to get proper scientists to see if its real. It would be an excellent subject for genetic fiddling.

(you can all tell me to shut up and go away if you like....I wont mind!!!! I am happy today as i got tickets for the killers and elbow!!!


Symptoms of RLS can develop as a complication of certain other conditions. For example:

Pregnancy. About 1 in 5 pregnant women develops RLS during pregnancy (especially in the later part of pregnancy). Symptoms often go after giving birth.

Lack of iron (iron deficiency) - which can cause anaemia. If this is the cause, then the symptoms of RLS usually go if you take iron tablets.

As a side-effect of some drugs. For example, it occurs in some people who take: antidepressants, antipsychotics, dopamine antagonists, antihistamines, calcium channel blockers, phenytoin, or steroids.

As a symptom of some other conditions. For example, kidney failure, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, and underactive thyroid.


i posted this as i found it this morning, so they think that rls and thyroid can be linked, !!! i didnt know this...but i do now though !!...not trying to prove anyone wrong or right, just its another medical opinion i found


so maybe there is a genetically caused rls which starts in childhhood with no specific triggers that we know about and there are certain drugs etc which trigger it and there are the lucky ones who develop it during pregnancy or from iron def or drugs where it ceases when the cause is stopped!!


as for myself, my mother had rls, i now have it, a lot worse than my mum did !!, and ive passed it on to my son :( so in my case its primary rls (inherited from family)


aha ...they are the words i was looking for...primary and secondary..so my theory is about primary?


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