Periodic leg movements during sleep associated with antidepressants: A meta-analysis

Raffaele Ferri, Maria P. Mogavero, Oliviero Bruni, Daniel L. Picchietti, Lourdes M. DelRosso

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Studies explicitly reporting data concerning the evaluation of the effect of antidepressants on the periodic leg movements during sleep (PLMS) index obtained by polysomnography were reviewed and selected. A random-effects model meta-analysis was carried out. The level of evidence was also assessed for each paper. Twelve studies were included in the final meta-analysis, seven interventional and five observational. Most studies were characterized by Level III evidence (non-randomized controlled trials), with the exception of four studies, which were classified as Level IV (case series, case-control, or historically controlled studies). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were used in seven studies. The analysis of the assessments involving SSRIs or venlafaxine showed an overall large effect size, clearly much larger than that obtained with studies using other antidepressants. Heterogeneity was substantial. This meta-analysis confirms the previous reports on the increase in PLMS often associated with the use of SSRIs (and venlafaxine); however, the absent or smaller effect of the other categories of antidepressants needs to be confirmed by more numerous and better controlled studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105126
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
StatePublished - May 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Antidepressants
  • Meta-analysis
  • Periodic leg movements during sleep
  • SSRIs
  • Sleep-related movements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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