Suffering from depression? Just go for a bone density test. Even mild depression, particularly in young women, is as potent a risk factor for osteoporosis as are low calcium intake, lack of exercise and smoking.
Researchers in the United States have carried out a study and found that mild depression is linked to bone loss in pre-menopausal women as it significantly increases their risk of developing osteoporosis, the 'WebMD' reported today.
"This study shows that even mild depression can have very real consequences for bones. Depression needs to be recognised as a risk factor for bone loss in pre-menopausal women," lead researcher Giovanni Cizza was quoted as saying.
The researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) came to the conclusion after analysing 89 women with mostly mild depression between the ages of 21 and 45, and comparing them with 44 women without depression.
Except for depression, the women in the two groups had similar risk factors for osteoporosis. Bone mineral density testing revealed that 17 per cent of the depressed women showed evidence of bone thinning at a particularly vulnerable area of the thigh bone, compared to two per cent of women who were not depressed.
Lower bone density at the lumbar spine was also seen in 20 per cent of the depressed women, compared to nine per cent of women without depression.
"Depression was associated with a two per cent reduction in bone mass at the hip - roughly seven times the expected loss for a healthy premenopausal woman and comparable to the accelerated loss seen each year in the first few years following menopause," Cizza said.
According to NIMH Deputy Director Richard Nakamura, "Because early osteoporosis is primarily a silent disease, knowing that even mild depression can lead to bone loss years before fractures occur is of major clinical importance."