Once again, we’re entering the realm of taboo subjects. The information I’m about to reveal today is so hush-hush that your doctor probably doesn’t even know about it.
A new study from Canada reveals something very disturbing for those over the age of 50 who take a certain class of drugs.
Antidepressants: Something to be Sad About
We are a sad nation, apparently…a sad continent, actually, given that Canada has joined the antidepressant drug craze. Data suggests that 1 in 10 Americans are on some sort of antidepressant medication, and antidepressant prescriptions have increased more than 350% in Canada between 1981 and 2000. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report1 in 2011 that showed a dramatic increase in the use of antidepressants in Americans from 2005 to 2008. The CDC report claims that 11% of Americans over the age of 12 take antidepressant medication.
In addition, women are far more likely to take antidepressant medication than men at all levels of depression severity. The CDC data also revealed that 23% of women in their 40's and 50's take an SSRI. This is higher than any other age group!
That’s what I call sobering news, especially given the effect of antidepressants on your bone density.
Antidepressants and Your Bones
The Canadian study2 revealed something alarming about a particular kind of antidepressant – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs – and the damage it does to the bones of people over the age of 50.
The patients in the study took commonly-prescribed SSRIs, including Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and Celexa, on a daily basis. Even when factors such as hip bone mineral density, age, and estrogen levels were taken into account, researchers concluded that the risk of “fragility fracture” actually doubled when these SSRIs were taken daily.
This is shocking news, considering that fragility fractures were already considered a problem among this age group.
What’s Going On?
How do SSRIs raise fracture risk? As their name implies, SSRIs inhibit the reuptake (reabsorption) of the brain chemical serotonin. According to the study,
“Functional serotonin receptors and the serotonin transporter have been localized to osteoblasts and osteocytes, and serotonin seems to modulate the skeletal effects of parathyroid hormone and mechanical stimulation.”2
In other words, SSRIs keep you from forming bone by inhibiting serotonin, which plays a role in bone formation.
And Antidepressants Don’t Even Work!
Not only are these drugs harming the bones; alarmingly, a study3 published in the New England Journal of Medicine concludes that antidepressants don’t even help depression. The study exposed Big Pharma’s brazen cover-up of actual data that shows the ineffectiveness of antidepressants. Not surprisingly, drug companies selectively published only those studies that showed the benefits of antidepressants, but suppressed almost all of the studies that showed clearly that these drugs are ineffective.
Even the studies that showed apparent benefits of antidepressants were presented inaccurately. Reviews of the actual data from those studies indicate that the antidepressants were only 20% more effective than a placebo. In other words, 80% of the participants in the studies found relief from depression with just a placebo.
And let’s not forget the side effects of antidepressants. Besides increasing fracture risk, SSRIs can have side effects that range from unpleasant (nausea, dry mouth) to unhealthy (weight gain, insomnia) all the way to life-threatening (increased risk of suicide).4
It looks like we’ve been deceived again.
Drug companies are preying on some of the most vulnerable among us. Depression clouds decision-making, and presents its own set of physical health problems as well, such as exacerbating bone loss.
Even Unmedicated Depression Hurts Your Bones
Interestingly, those who suffer depression may be more at risk for fractures even without taking medication. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine has shown that depressed menopausal women had a greater fracture risk. The study also showed less bone mass in the hips (specifically, the femoral neck) of 17% of women with depression, compared to only 2% of women without depression. And in 20% of depressed women, low bone mass was observed in the lumbar spine, compared to only 9% of non-depressed women.5
The study participants had identical risk factors, sharing similar lifestyles and habits. The only difference was depression. Researchers explain that depression leads to an overproduction of IL-6, an inflammatory body marker. As Save Our Bones readers know, chronic inflammation has a significant negative impact on your bones.
And now we find out that depressed women who take SSRIs have increased fracture risk. So depression itself harms your bones, and so do the antidepressant drugs.
Natural Ways to Fight Depression
Overcoming depression without drugs is possible. If you suffer from depression, by all means seek help. But that help does not have to involve ineffective, dangerous drugs. There are plenty of natural, drug-free things you can do to alleviate anxiety and depression – this list is only a partial one:
- Check with a qualified herbalist and explore some of nature’s antidepressants, such as St John’s Wort.
- Homeopathic remedies are also a possibility you can discuss with your herbalist or homeopathic practitioner.
- Get out in the sunshine!
- Drink plenty of water.
- Nutritional supplements such as fish oil and B-complex vitamins can help.
- Practice good nutrition and eat a healthy diet.
- Professional counseling and therapy can work wonders.
- Learn to accept yourself without judgment.
- Music therapy.
- Engage in prayer or meditation.
- Exercise regularly, including aerobic exercise.
Various studies support the role of exercise in treating and managing depression. A 2005 study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine showed a depression remission rate of 42% in those who engaged in aerobic exercise 5 times a week.6 And yet another study, this one published in Psychosomatic Medicine in 2000, showed that regular exercise prevented a relapse into depression. In fact, participants in the study who exercised were less likely to relapse than those who took antidepressants.7
The Osteoporosis Reversal Program recommends aerobic weight/bearing exercise for bone health, so improved mood is another great “side-effect” of following the Program. And to really get your bones in top shape, there’s Densercise.
The Osteoporosis Reversal Program and Densercise are uniquely designed to show you how to meet your nutritional and exercise needs, which can help you reach optimal health for your bones and your mind.
To your health and happiness!
1 Pratt, Laura A., et al. “Antidepressant Use in Persons Aged 12 and Over: United States, 2005-2008. National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief. No. 76, October 2011. www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db76.htm
2 Richards, J. Brent, et al. “Effect of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors on the Risk of Fracture.” Arch Intern Med. 2007;167:188-194.
3 Turner, Erick H., et al. “Selective Publication of Antidepressant Trials and Its Influence on Apparent Efficacy.” The New England Journal of Medicine. January 2008; 358:252-260. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa065779
4 Stone MB, Jones ML (2006-11-17). “Clinical review: relationship between antidepressant drugs and suicidal behavior in adults” (PDF). Overview for December 13 Meeting of Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee (PDAC). FDA. pp. 11–74. Retrieved 2007-09-22.
5 Farideh Eskandari, MD, MHSc, et al. “Low Bone Mass in Premenopausal Women With Depression” Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(21):2329-2336. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/91132.php
6 Dunn, AL, et al. “Exercise treatment for depression: efficacy and dose response.” American Journal of Preventative Medicine. January 2005; 28(1):1-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15626549
7 Babyak, Michael, PhD, et al. “Exercise Treatment for Major Depression: Maintenance of Therapeutic Benefit as 10 Months.” Psychosomatic Medicine. September 1, 2000. Vol. 62 no. 5; 633-638.