Facebook Pixel

Depression and Bone Health: How Your Mental State Can Impact the Strength of Your Bones

Rate This
Bones & Joints related image Photo: Getty Images

My grandma, 106, is somewhat hunched over. That’s to be expected at her age, but this feisty “young woman” has a secret about that hump: all of her worries, frustrations, anxieties, and depressive thoughts just roll right off of it! That is actually one of her many secrets to aging gracefully and having nary a physical complaint, short of the typical, “I’m hungry. When’s lunch?”

Grandma has always embraced optimism. Show her a dark cloud, and she will produce its silver lining. Toss a stumbling block into her path, and she will turn it over into a stepping stone. That’s just the way she confidently rolls. As such, I believe this gives testament to her continued good health, especially when it comes to her bones.

In fact, the only time Grandma has ever broken a bone was back in the late 1960s. Fresh off a graceful glide down a snow-covered mountain top on brand new skis, Grandma raised her arms, ski poles in hand, triumphantly above her head only to be struck from behind seconds later by an overly-zealous and under-accomplished fellow skier. Both were injured. Grandma broke her leg. That was the one and only time she has fractured a bone in her life, despite falling a few times in the past couple of years. I am convinced she is made of steel.

I am also convinced that her upbeat and spirited attitude, trumping anxiety and depression along the way, have kept bone injuries and other bone maladies at bay. Just to substantiate my musings, I did a bit of research into the subject matter, and the results were revealing, but not necessarily shockingly so.

If you have been diagnosed with depression, it is just as important to keep a watchful eye on your mental health as it is on your bone health. Studies have shown that depression can adversely affect bone density. While the psychological effects of depression are fairly established: sadness, lack of motivation, low energy reserves, and difficulties in sleeping, there are physical consequences as well.

The biochemical changes that occur with depression can have dramatic effects on many systems in the body, including the health of your bones. Published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 133 premenopausal women were a part of a recent study. Some of the participants had been diagnosed with depression and others had not. Those who were clinically depressed presented with lower bone density than their non-depressed counterparts. The depressed women also had higher levels of several inflammatory markers in their bloodstreams.

The elevated inflammatory markers are considered to be the main culprit in this scenario, as inflammation has also been linked to a significant role in other diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Individuals who are depressed have higher levels of a hormone known as cortisol which plays a huge role in firing up an inflammatory response. Additionally, if you are under constant stress, full of anxiety, and rarely relaxed, your body will continue to release higher levels of cortisol which can negatively impact your bone health over time.

To add insult to injury, some anti-depressants, known as SSRIs, have been shown to increase the risk of bone fractures by decreasing bone density. Such medications affect serotonin levels which play a role in bone health. This does suggest that taking SSRIs for depression could be an additional risk factor for developing osteoporosis.

If you are one of many who suffer from depression and have concerns about your bone health, please consult your physician who can arrange a bone density test for you. Do not discontinue taking any anti-depressant medication without contacting your doctor first, as this can greatly affect your mental health.

In the interim, the best measures you can take are to exercise more, change your diet to include calcium-rich foods, and grab a few minutes of sunshine to get a boost of vitamin D.

(Information for this article was found at http://www.ehow.com/how_4709250_how-depression-affects-bone-density.html and at http://www.kcbd.com/story/7412190/a-new-warning-about-depression-and-bone-health.)

Low Bone Mass in Premenopausal Women With Depression

Reviewed May 31, 2011
Edited by Alison Stanton

Add a Comment1 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Depression is mental disease. To avoid this do exercise, yoga and spend time with other and share your thinking. It will help to stay healthy and fit.

June 5, 2011 - 11:19pm
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.