I marvel at the impatience and mood swings of toddlers when they want something. Kids and instant gratification go hand in hand, but the facts indicate we adults are not that different in wanting immediate fixes. The proof is that one in every ten Americans takes an antidepressant drug (1).
We want to feel better. And now, or better yet, 5 minutes ago. But though antidepressant drugs may temporarily improve your mood, they will give you less to smile about – when it comes to your bone health.
Antidepressant Drugs : A Chemical Balancing Act
When I was growing up, I recall happily assisting my dad in measuring the pH levels in our swimming pool. There had to be a delicate balance between the acid/alkaline levels or else the water became distressed. With too much alkalinity, the pool could resemble a swamp with algae growth… And too much acidity could lead to irritated skin.
Similar to swimming pools, our bodies thrive when the balance is right. An imbalance of neurotransmitters is a culprit in depression, so antidepressant drugs aim to correct it.
Our sleep, appetite and mood are all affected by the neurotransmitter Serotonin. For those who are depressed, SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors) are a go to drug to help restore your mood. If you are taking Paxil, Zoloft or Prozac, you are taking an SSRI. And you may find your mood improving, as they attempt to restore brackish waters back into a pool party.
The Price Of A Quick Fix
Unfortunately research shows that SSRI’s can interfere with our calcium levels, bone formation and prevent calcium absorption. According to the University of Oregon, if you are taking SSRI’s, you are more prone to experience bone loss (2). SSRI’s have been shown to prevent calcium absorption into your bones (3). Furthermore, the University of Oregon reported that bone density in males taking SSRI’s were 3.9% lower than non SSRI users (2). Serotonin also plays a part to enhance or inhibit bone formation (4).
In light of this, it is not a surprise that people 65 years and above who took SSRIs for depression reportedly had a higher risk of falling and breaking a bone compared with those not taking antidepressants (4). And daily use of SSRI’s showed a “2-fold increase in fracture risk” (5).
SSRI’s can also potentially lower your blood pressure; another compounding side effect, which can unfortunately set you up for a sudden fall (3). And without a life guard on duty, your fall could result in breaking bones .
Sinking In SSRI’S
When it comes to SSRI’s and calcium, it’s almost as if we are in a life raft with holes. SSRI’s can be our lifeline to a better mood. But as we are trying to keep ourselves afloat, we could be setting ourselves up to sink. Making matters worse is that if we take a tumble and break a bone, our mood will most definitely suffer a belly dive.
Mineral Therapy To The Rescue
While you may find SSRI’s keep you treading above water, you may want to revisit the quality of the waters you’re swimming in.
The Indian Journal of Psychiatry suggests that there is a strong connection between nutrition and depression (3). Simply skipping meals or being undiscerning about the quality of the food we consume can be the reason so many are grasping for mood swing relief.
And depression is linked with calcium deficiency(5) in our diets. Other nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, minerals and amino acids are amongst nutrients that need to be present for neurotransmitters to form (3). This brings us back to the analogy of the balanced pool. Those who are depressed often have diets high in sugar and consequently low nutritional value (4).
Elizabeth Haney, M.D suggests that people taking SSRI’s “may need additional screening or extra protection for their bones” (2). Extra protection can include a high quality nutritional supplement that makes up for our modern S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) that is woefully deplete of vitamins and minerals.