Anti-depressants increase your risk of bone fracture

Last Tuesday, I held an in-depth, 90-minute webinar on bone health and osteoporosis for members of EmpowerEd. (You can view this webinar and all previous Deep Dive webinars and Ask Robyn sessions that are part of the EmpowerEd program by joining here.)

In the webinar I traced the history of osteoporosis, from a condition that 20% of surveyed British GPs said they’d never seen a case of in 1990, to a dreaded disease that will supposedly cause fractures in 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men.

Now, as I explained in the webinar, there’s a fair bit of sleight of hand in the definition of ‘osteoporotic fracture’ that has contributed to this apparent dramatic rise (hint – 2/3 of spinal fractures don’t actually cause any symptoms, but they’re still defined as fractures when drug companies are trying to prove that their osteoporosis drugs ‘work’… oh and by the way, none of those drugs prevent the rightly-feared hip fractures), but one major factor that’s contributing to factors to the portion of the rise that is genuine is the widespread use of bone-damaging drugs.

It’s been know for a long time that steroid drugs such as prednisone, and acid-suppressing drugs such as Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid, increase the risk of osteoporotic bone fractures, but research published in the last couple of years has revealed that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (anti-depressant drugs such as Lexapro, Prozac and Luvox) raise the risk of fractures even more than these well-known bone thieves.

I’ve written previously about the ineffectiveness and dangers of SSRIs (see 5 reasons to think twice before taking antidepressants), but unfortunately there are no signs that doctors are falling out of love with SSRIs; in fact, they’re now prescribing these drugs for menopausal hot flushes and night sweats, and irritable bowel syndrome! In 2013, Australia earned the dubious distinction of ranking second in the world (behind Iceland) for antidepressant prescriptions; 89 out of every 1000 Australians are now prescribed some form of daily anti-depressant compared to around 45 per 1000 in 2003.

Worst of all, the fracture type that’s most increased by SSRIs is hip fractures, the odds of which are doubled in people who take SSRIs. Out of the 3 major fracture types associated with osteoporosis (hip, spinal and wrist), hip fractures have the most dramatic effect on long-term disability and risk of dying.

Prescribing SSRIs to women whose risk of hip fracture is already heightened by the fact that they’re going through menopause is, to put it mildly, a Really Bad Idea. Putting young people on SSRIs at a time of life when they should be building peak bone mass, and then leaving them on these dangerous and ineffective drugs for years (a situation I’ve seen in many clients) is even more insane.

To learn how to protect your bones and prevent fractures, become an EmpowerEd member and view my 90-minute, comprehensive and fully-referenced webinar ‘Strong Bones for Life’.

To learn more about how to improve mental health the drug-free way, visit my Article Library and scroll down to the ‘Mental Health’ section, or apply for a Roadmap to Optimal Health consultation.

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