RLS and Comorbid Conditions

If you have restless legs syndrome (RLS), you know how annoying — and sometimes painful — the condition can be. 

You may feel a strong urge to move your legs, especially when you’re lying down or sitting for long periods of time. The sensation is often described as tingling, crawling, pulling, or itching.

RLS can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. The condition is also associated with other health problems, including anxiety and depression.

In this article from New Exodus Health, we’ll explore the link between RLS and psychiatric comorbidities. We’ll also look at potential causes and triggers of RLS, common symptoms, and typical treatment options.

What Is RLS?

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder that causes a strong urge to move the legs in an attempt to quell the feelings of restless energy that run up and down them. 

RLS typically worsens during periods of rest or inactivity and improves with movement. As a result, the condition can make the sleeping process and times of rest extremely uncomfortable, giving the sufferer of RLS feelings of restless hopelessness.

RLS is a chronic condition that affects between 4% and 29% of adults in the Western world. The condition is more common in women than men and usually begins after age 40 — although, this condition can affect anyone at any age.

What Causes RLS?

The exact cause of RLS is unknown, but there are several theories. One theory suggests that RLS is caused by a problem with the brain chemical dopamine, which helps control muscle movement.

Other potential causes of RLS include:

  • Chronic diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and kidney failure
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain medications, including anti-nausea drugs and anti-seizure medications
  • Iron deficiency anemia or other nutritional deficiencies
  • Hormonal changes in women due to menstruation or menopause

Symptoms of RLS can vary from person to person. Some people may experience mild symptoms that come and go without treatment, while others may have more severe symptoms that require medical intervention. 

Common symptoms include:

  • Restless legs that become worse at night
  • An urge to move your legs when they’re at rest or during inactivity
  • Sensations that feel like tingling, itching, crawling, burning, or throbbing in the legs
  • Pain or discomfort in the legs
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep

RLS can also cause daytime fatigue, moodiness, and irritability. In severe cases, the condition can interfere with work and other aspects of daily life.

Diagnosing RLS

If you think you may have RLS, see your doctor for an evaluation. Your doctor will ask about your medical history and symptoms. He or she may also order blood tests to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, such as iron deficiency anemia.

There is no single test that can diagnose RLS. Instead, the diagnosis is made based on a combination of factors, including:

  • Your medical history
  • A physical examination
  • Blood tests to rule out other conditions
  • A sleep study to rule out other sleep disorders

Treating RLS

There is no cure for RLS, but there are treatments that can help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. Treatment options include lifestyle changes, traditional medications, and alternative methods — such as ketamine therapy.

Lifestyle Changes

Making certain lifestyle changes can help relieve symptoms of RLS. These changes include: 

  • Exercising regularly 
  • Taking breaks during extended periods of sitting or standing 
  • Stretching your legs before bedtime 
  • Massaging your legs 
  • Taking a hot bath 
  • Adjusting your sleeping environment (e.g., using a supportive mattress) 


There are several medications that can be used to treat RLS, including dopaminergic drugs, iron supplements, and anticonvulsants. However, many of the typical medications prescribed and used to treat conditions like RLS often cause unwanted or uncomfortable side effects.

Alternative Therapies

Some people with RLS find relief from naturopathic, holistic therapies, such as acupuncture or massage. These therapies are not a cure for RLS, but they may help reduce symptoms.

Also, another breakthrough treatment option showing considerable promise is the use of ketamine therapy for RLS. 

This therapy uses a medication that is typically used as an anesthetic. However, the use of ketamine has recently been found to be effective in treating RLS symptoms and has shown promise in helping people overcome depression and insomnia.

Psychiatric Comorbidities of RLS

RLS is a chronic condition that can cause significant distress and disruption in one’s life. The condition is also associated with other health problems, including anxiety and depression.

It’s estimated that nearly half of all people with RLS also have a psychiatric or mood disorder. The most common comorbidities are anxiety and depression, but RLS is also associated with other mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

RLS can also worsen the symptoms of anxiety and depression. For example, as mentioned above, the condition can cause insomnia, which can lead to fatigue and irritability. The condition can also interfere with work and other aspects of daily life, which can lead to social isolation and further distress.

Get the Treatment You Need at New Exodus Health

If you are struggling with RLS, or if you suspect that you may be suffering from a comorbid condition like anxiety or depression, New Exodus Health can help. We offer a comprehensive approach to mental health care, including ketamine therapy, for a variety of conditions.

Our team of medical providers has extensive experience helping people overcome the symptoms of psychiatric disorders and other chronic health issues.

We believe in treating the whole person, not just the symptoms. Our goal in treating the root cause of your conditions is to help you find relief from most — if not all — of your symptoms and improve your quality of life. 

If you think you may benefit from our services, please contact us today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you on your journey to recovery!


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Panic Attack

How To Help Someone Having a Panic Attack

A panic attack is a feeling of sudden and intense fear. This fear can be accompanied by a number of symptoms, including a racing heart, shortness of breath, sweating, and shaking. 

Panic attacks can happen at any time, and they often come on without warning.

While panic attacks can be extremely frightening, it’s important to remember that they are not harmful to your physical health. Panic attacks are a response to stress, and they can be managed with the help of a therapist, counselor, or medical professional. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing a panic attack, there are steps you can take to help them through it. 

In this article from New Exodus Health, we’ll take an in-depth look at panic attacks, their causes, symptoms, and the mental health conditions that are often associated with them. We’ll also provide information on how to help and treat someone suffering from panic attacks — including the use of ketamine therapy. 

What Are Panic Attacks? 

Panic attacks can occur for a number of different reasons. They are often triggered by stressful or traumatic events, and they may also be caused by certain health conditions. 

Panic attacks typically last around 10 to 20 minutes, but the effects of the attack can linger for much longer. Many people who experience panic attacks become anxious about having another attack in the future, which only makes things worse. 

Some common symptoms of a panic attack include: 

  • Racing heart 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Pounding chest or feeling pressure in your chest 
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness 
  • Sweating and shaking 
  • Feeling unreal or detached from your surroundings 
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy 
  • Fear of dying 

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms frequently, it’s essential to seek help from a medical professional. Even though they’re not harmful, panic attacks can be very frightening and take their toll on your mental well-being. 

With the help of an experienced medical provider, you can learn how to manage your panic attacks and move on toward a stress-free life. 

What Causes Panic Attacks? 

While some people are more prone to panic attacks than others, there is no one cause; a number of different factors can contribute to their onset. 

The most common triggers that often lead to panic attacks include: 

  • Stressful life events or trauma 
  • Health conditions, including high blood pressure, asthma, heart disease, thyroid problems, and more 
  • Certain medications 
  • Substance abuse 
  • Mental health issues, such as anxiety disorders or depression 

It’s important to note that it’s not always clear why panic attacks happen — even to the one experiencing them. However, with the help of a medical professional or counselor, you can learn how to manage these symptoms and prevent attacks in the future. 

Mental Health Conditions Associated With Panic Attacks

Several mental health conditions are often associated with panic attacks. These conditions include: 

Anxiety Disorders: People with anxiety disorders are more likely to experience panic attacks than those without an anxiety disorder. Common anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia. 

Depression: People with depression are also more likely to experience panic attacks. Depression is a common mental health condition that can cause various symptoms, including feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and fatigue. 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a condition that can develop after exposure to a traumatic event, such as a car accident or sexual assault. People with PTSD often have intrusive thoughts and flashbacks of the event, as well as feelings of anxiety and depression. Panic attacks are also common in people with PTSD. 

Help for Someone Having a Panic Attack 

If someone you know has a panic attack, there are things you can do to help them through it. Here are some tips for helping someone during this difficult time:

  1. Remain calm and supportive. Avoid reasoning with the person or telling them that they are “overreacting.” Instead, be understanding and reassuring. 
  2. Encourage the person to take slow, deep breaths. This can help regulate their breathing and ease some of their symptoms, including chest pains and dizziness. 
  3. Get them out of stressful environments if possible. Being in a noisy or crowded place during an attack can exacerbate symptoms and make it harder for them to recover. 
  4. Take note of any other physical or emotional symptoms they may have (such as tremors). Ensure that you are comforting them during the panic attack, providing assistance, and documenting their symptoms in case medical services arrive at the scene. 
  5. Most importantly, encourage the person to seek professional help if they have frequent or severe panic attacks. A medical provider can help them identify their triggers and develop coping strategies to prevent these attacks from happening again. 

Also, as we mentioned above, please remember that panic attacks can be extremely frightening, but it’s important to remain mindful of the fact that they are not harmful. If you remain calm, it will be easier for the one having the attack to calm down as well.

Get Treatment for Panic Attacks at New Exodus Health 

If you or someone you know is struggling with panic attacks, we can help. At New Exodus Health, we offer a variety of treatment options for panic disorders, including ketamine therapy.

Ketamine is a medication that has been shown to be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of panic attacks often associated with anxiety and panic disorders. If you’re interested in learning more about ketamine therapy, contact us today to schedule a consultation. We’ll work with you to develop a treatment plan that meets your unique needs. 

Panic attacks can be very scary and overwhelming experiences. But with the proper support and treatment, it is possible to manage symptoms and live a healthy, happy, productive life. 

New Exodus Health is here to help you on your journey to recovery. Click the link below to get in touch with us and learn more about our services.

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