Depression has long been known as a health destroyer. Studies now show that it also weakens bones and can lead to osteoporosis.
Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem say that people with major depression generally have a lower bone mass density compared to folks with normal emotional health. Low bone mass is a leading cause of osteoporosis and fractures among older people in general and among post-menopausal women in particular.
During lab tests, the researchers found that depression sets off a neural system connecting the brain to the internal organs, including the skeleton. This activation of the sympathetic nervous system releases noradrenaline and disrupts the body’s bone-building processes.
“The connection between the brain and the skeleton in general, and the influence of depression on bone mass in particular is a new area of research about which we still know very little,” says researcher Raz Yirmiya. “The new findings… point for the first time to depression as an important element in causing bone mass loss and osteoporosis.”
Similar studies have linked depression to other health problems such as chronic inflammation and a weakened immune system.