Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in recent research, has found a clear link between depression and a loss of bone mass. Thus, they believe that such mood disorders may lead to osteoporosis and fractures.
The study also showed that the relationship between depression and bone loss is particularly strong among young women.
Hebrew University researchers Prof. Raz Yirmiya, head of the Brain and Behavior Laboratory, and Prof. Itai Bab, head of the Bone Laboratory, assembled the data from all studies on the subject conducted to date, and analyzed them using a special statistical approach called meta-analysis.
They assessed data from 23 research projects conducted in eight countries, comparing bone density among 2,327 people suffering from depression against 21,141 non-depressed individuals.
The results showed clearly that depressed individuals have a substantially lower bone density than non-depressed people and that depression is associated with a markedly elevated activity of cells that breakdown bone (osteoclasts).
The researchers found that the association between depression and bone loss was stronger in women than men, especially young women before the end of their monthly period.
This connection was especially strong in women with clinical depression diagnosed by a psychiatrist, but not in community studies, in which women subjectively identified themselves as being depressed using self-rating questionnaires.
Yirmiya and Bab said: "All individuals psychiatrically diagnosed with major depression are at risk for developing osteoporosis, with depressed young women showing the highest risk. These patients should be periodically evaluated for progression of bone loss and signs of osteoporosis, allowing the use of anti-osteoporotic prophylactic and therapeutic treatments".
The results were recently reported in the journal Biological Psychiatry.