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Depressive and anxiety symptoms reduce bone mineral density

14 April 2011

A new study has found a link between depressive and anxiety symptoms and a reduction in bone mineral density.

The study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, was undertaken by researchers from Deakin University, located at Barwon Health, and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Researchers analysed data collected from over 8,000 men and women from central Norway who had participated in the internationally-renowned Nord-Trondelag Health Study.

Participants underwent forearm bone mineral density scans, as well as completing a questionnaire regarding current depressive and anxiety symptoms. Other factors that may be associated with both psychiatric symptoms and bone, such as body weight and height, as well as physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, medication use, calcium and caffeine intake and current medical conditions were also examined in the study.

Deakin University researcher Dr Lana Williams said they found depressive symptoms, as well as anxiety symptoms in men, were associated with lower bone mineral density.

“Even after taking into account other medical and lifestyle factors, this finding persisted,” Dr Williams said.

“There are several known risk factors for low bone mineral density, such as advanced age, gender (women are at greater risk than men), familial predisposition, low levels of sex hormones, inadequate calcium intake and vitamin D deficiency,” Dr Williams said, “It is possible that poor mental health could be another one of these risk factors”.

Recently the possible association between psychiatric illness - particularly depression - and osteoporosis has been the subject of a growing body of research. However, this is the first study to examine anxiety symptoms in relation to bone mineral density.

Dr Williams is currently investigating the mechanisms that may cause this relationship, and whether medications used to treat these disorders are contributing to this reduction in bone mineral density, in a study funded by the National Health Medical Research Council.

“These findings may be of clinical relevance considering the significant costs of fracture in the community and suggest that monitoring bone health in individuals diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder may be advisable,” Dr Williams said.

News facts
  • Link found between depression and anxiety and reduced bone mineral density
  • Researchers now looking at mechanisms that may cause this association

Media contact

Mandi O'Garretty
Deakin Media Relations
03 5227 2776; 0418 361 890
mandi.ogarretty@deakin.edu.au

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22nd September 2011