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Common Antidepressants Risk Osteoporosis

Older Woman

Two new studies suggest commonly prescribed antidepressant medications up the risk of bone loss in older men and women.

The class of antidepressant medications, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, include Zoloft, Prozac and Paxil.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) treat depression by inhibiting the protein that transports serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in sleep and depression, according to background information in the articles.

This protein has recently been discovered in bone as well, raising the possibility that SSRIs may affect bone density and the risk of fracture. SSRIs account for about 62 percent of antidepressant prescriptions in the United States, and are often prescribed to the elderly.

The studies are found in the June 25 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Susan J. Diem, M.D., M.P.H., University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and colleagues studied 2,722 older women (average age 78.5 years) beginning in 1997 through 1999.

At that time and again an average of 4.9 years later, researchers measured women’s total hip bone density and also that of two subregions.

At each visit, the participants were asked to bring in all the medications they had used within the past two weeks, including SSRIs and tricyclic antidepressants, which work through a different mechanism.

A total of 198 (7.3 percent) of the women were SSRI users, 118 (4.3 percent) took tricyclic antidepressants and 2,406 (88.4 percent) took neither (those who took both were not included in the analysis).

After the researchers adjusted for other factors affecting bone density and antidepressant use, including depression severity and calcium supplement use, bone mineral density at the hip decreased 0.82 percent in SSRI users.

This compared with a decrease of 0.47 percent among those who used tricyclic antidepressants and also in those who did not take any antidepressants. Higher rates of bone loss were also observed at the two hip subregions among SSRI users.

“One potential explanation for our findings is that SSRI use may have a direct deleterious effect on bone,” the authors write. “This theory is supported by findings of in vitro and in vivo laboratory investigations.”

Some data suggest that SSRIs may interfere with the function of osteoclasts and osteoblasts, cells responsible for the regular breaking down and rebuilding of bone in the body.

“Our findings suggest that, in this cohort, use of SSRIs is associated with increased rates of hip bone loss,” the authors conclude.

Although some of this association may have occurred because women who were prescribed SSRIs were different from those who were not prescribed SSRIs, “further investigation of SSRI use and rates of change in bone mineral density in other populations with longer follow-up is warranted given the recent description of serotonin transporters in bone.”

Source: Archives of Internal Medicine

Common Antidepressants Risk Osteoporosis

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Common Antidepressants Risk Osteoporosis. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 20, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/06/26/common-antidepressants-risk-osteoporosis/918.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.