Depression, Antidepressants Linked to Bone Loss
> 10/31/2006 11:11:13 AM

Two recent studies have connected depression to loss of bone mass, and have shown that antidepressants may help even those who are not suffering from depression to strengthen their bones. Last week, researchers at Boston's Forsyth Institute released results from a study that showed that the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor fluoxetine not only induced the formation of new bone under normal conditions but also reversed total bone loss that is often associated with inflammation or estrogen loss.

This week, Israeli scientists have announced that their research goes even further, showing how depression itself can lead to a weakening of bones. They also found that antidepressants were effective in reversing this trend. Rueters reports:

Depression activates the "sympathetic nervous system", which responds to impending danger or stress, causing the release of a chemical compound called noradrenaline that harms bone-building cells, the study showed.

This new link between the mental health disorder depression and a physical ailment, in this case loss of bone mass, points to even more evidence that preventative care is the best strategy. If depression is caught early and treated effectively, this research shows that the effect on the skeletal system should be minimal. The converse, however, is also true, and if depression is not diagnosed and treated effectively, mental health problems can balloon into extremely costly (both financially and personally) physical ailments.

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