Antidepressants during menopause connected to bone fractures

A new study is suggesting that a class of antidepressant drug called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, which are medications used for reducing menopause symptoms, might increase risk of bone fracture in women. The study has been published in the peer reviewed medical journal Injury Prevention.

During the study, researchers combed through the PharMetrics Claims Database that contain thorough information about as many as 61 million patients who are part of different managed care plans in the United States. The number of care plans covered in this database is more than 98.


The study revealed that increased risk of fracture might bother postmenopausal women for several years. The results suggest that compared to women taking indigestion drugs, the rate of fracture was 76% higher in women taking SSRIs for one year. The rate was 73% higher after taking SSRIs for two years and after five years of treatment, the rate was found to be 67% higher.

These numbers have allowed the researchers to conclude that short term treatment with SSRIs might be preferable.

Here, it must be mentioned that at present, the SSRIs are the 3rd most commonly prescribed drug type in the United States. Medical practitioners often prescribe them for non-psychiatric disorders. For instance, they are frequently used as alternatives to HRT or Hormone Replacement Therapy for managing menopause symptoms such as night sweats and hot flashes.

For this new study, researchers looked at 137,031 women who had no history of mental health disorders. All these women were between 40 and 64 years of age and started taking SSRIs between 1998 and 2010.

Researchers compared health data of these women with that of 236,294 women of same age group. This second group was treated with proton pump inhibitors or H2 antagonists, which are medications used typically for managing indigestion. The second group also began their treatment between 1998 and 2010.

The SSRIs used during the study include paroxetine hydrochloride, escitalopram oxalate, sertraline hydrochloride, citalopram, hyrdrobromide, fluvoxamine maleate, and fluoxetine hyrdrochloride.

Seeing the results of the study, the authors concluded that SSRIs seems to augment fracture risk in middle-aged females who are not suffering from any metal disorder. They added that the effects of the drugs would sustain over time and suggested that a short-term treatment might reduce them.

According to the authors, fracture risk tend to increase among menopausal women treated with SSRIs as these antidepressants are capable of altering bone turnover and transferring the balance to bone thinning from bone strengthening. This shift in balance might result in decrease of bone mineral density, which increases risk of getting fractures.


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