Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

In the United States, restless leg syndrome or RLS has become somewhat of a joking matter. This seems most apparent from the video clip from MAD TV that was shown in this week’s lecture. With the exaggerated images of this syndrome in the media and the lack of biomedical proof, it is clear how people who claim to be suffering from this illness might not be taken as seriously as they would like to be. It is also hard to legitimize this syndrome because the symptoms are so subjective as seen in the video in this week’s lecture from health.com in which the women describes her symptoms as an “electrical surge of energy” not only in her legs, but also her arms in which the only alleviation is moving.

Unfortunately, the only way I see this syndrome being taken seriously in the American culture is if there is some sort of well-proven biomedical evidence that seems to be responsible for causing the associated symptoms. Since the individuals might not be taken as seriously as they should be by other individuals whether it be friends or family they may never even seek professional help by their healthcare provider, and thus will continue to suffer from this syndrome. If they do seek professional care via their healthcare provider they may become frustrated due to the lack of science/treatment for this syndrome.

Lastly, I think one of the most underestimated remedies that exist today is hope. To be hopeful means you are thinking positively about yourself and your surroundings. The power of belief or hope is easily portrayed by the placebo effect. One thing I think most people can agree with is that disease can be accelerated by distressing or worrying. Or if you aren’t suffering from a disease, your own state of biological/psychological/physical health can suffer due to stressing too much. Therefore any removal of stress or introduction of positivity seems to benefit the individual or patient. There definitely seems to be some sort of biochemical event that occurs when a patient believes in the effect of an administered placebo.

In the video, “Placebo: Cracking the Code,” scans taken from the brain of a woman who had received a fake anti-depressant ,or placebo, showed that there was a real physical change occurring in the brain. The brain was more active in the areas that controlled mood, and less active in other areas of the brain. Although the placebo effect is still not completely understood, it would be hard to argue that this effect isn’t attributed to something occurring within an individual’s biology as a result of the introduction of hope. As far as my own experience goes, taking a sleeping aid at night, such as melatonin, tends to help me sleep. Now that I think about it, I’m not too sure how much of the assistance actually comes from the pill compared to my belief that by taking this pill I will be able to sleep.

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