- Recent research suggests a potential correlation between the use of antidepressants and an increased risk of bone fractures, especially spine fractures, in older adults.
- Everyday users of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may have double the risk of bone fracture compared to those not on the drug according to one study, hinting at a possible link between SSRIs and bone density.
- No direct cause-and-effect relationship between antidepressant use and fractures has been confirmed, though some drugs list osteoporosis as a potential side effect.
- People taking SSRIs are encouraged to consult with their physician regarding potential osteoporosis and consider a bone density test.
- To reduce the likelihood of bone loss, regular exercise, sufficient intake of vitamin D and calcium, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol, and including soy in the diet are recommended.
A growing body of research is coming to light, revealing an intriguing correlation between the usage of antidepressants and elevated risk of bone fractures, particularly in older adults. A recent study illuminates that older adults who have been prescribed antidepressants may experience not only an essential lift in mood but also a heightened danger of bone fractures.
Antidepressants and Increased Risk of Fractures in Postmenopausal Women
In one particularly compelling study, a team led by a researcher from a Seattle-based health service explored the association between the use of antidepressants in postmenopausal women (averaging 64 years of age) and increased risk of fractures on the spine and other areas. This research revealed an intriguing nuance: no substantial direct links between antidepressants and fractures of the wrist or hip were found. However, an association with spine fracture was discovered. Specifically, women taking antidepressants were seen to have a 30 percent increased risk of spine fracture and a 20 percent increased risk of any kind of fracture.
The team unveiled these facts after reviewing data from over 93,000 women enrolled in the comprehensive Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. They first examined antidepressant use before analyzing the incidence of fractures. Their findings were later published in a journal dedicated to general internal medicine.
SSRIs and Their Relationship with Bone Density
In an earlier piece of research, the director of the Bone and Periodontal Research Center at a university in Montreal scrutinized data from an osteoporosis study handling over 5,000 randomly selected individuals. This group included 137 people who took daily selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Seemingly, everyday SSRI users had double the risk of bone fracture compared to those not on the medication. The same study also unveiled a relationship between depression itself and increased risk of fractures.
Interestingly, serotonin – the neurotransmitter that SSRIs target – plays an integral role not only in depression but also in the physiology of bone. Alterations to the serotonin system could lead to lower bone density and increase the risk of fractures. The findings have led the researchers to explore whether there is a genetic propensity for osteoporosis in teenagers taking SSRIs.
Understanding the Link but Not Inferring Causality
However, it’s important to underscore that while these studies suggest an association between antidepressant use and fractures, no research has ascertained a direct cause-and-effect relationship. A spokesperson from a company that manufactures a popular SSRI echoed this sentiment, adding that the current data is inconclusive in determining a significant contribution of their SSRI to the risk of osteoporosis and fractures in treated patients. Yet, the label of the SSRI lists osteoporosis as a rare side effect observed in clinical trials.
The Interim Advisory and Suggestions to Boost Bone Health
While the research further unfolds, experts are urging individuals on SSRIs to continue their medication if they are being taken for valid reasons. However, they are also recommending these individuals to consider consulting with their physician regarding possible osteoporosis and undergoing a bone density test.
To assist individuals in reducing the probability of bone loss, whether you are on antidepressants or not, experts from the Mayo Clinic propose the following:
- Increase your calcium intake. Both men and women over 65 should attempt to consume 1,500 milligrams of elemental calcium each day.
- Ensure a sufficient daily intake of vitamin D. Men and women should aim for at least 800 international units daily.
- Regularly exercise. Combine strength-building with weight-bearing exercises, like walking, stair climbing, and skipping rope.
- Try to include soy in your diet. The plant estrogens found in soy aid in maintaining bone density and might help reduce the risk of fractures.
- Avoid smoking as it leads to bone loss.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption as it can hinder bone formation and the body’s calcium uptake.
More Information on Osteoporosis
To find more information on osteoporosis, visit the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.