In a study on osteoporosis, depression made the list of risk factors for bone loss. The study, published in 2007 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, shows that premenopausal women with even mild depression have less bone mass than do their non-depressed peers.  In fact, the level of bone loss is at least as high as that associated with recognized risk factors for osteoporosis, including smoking, low calcium intake and lack of physical activity, according to the study.  

The study, which compared the bone density of 89 depressed women and 44 non-depressed women between the ages of 21 and 45, found the hip bones – the site of frequent fractures among older people – were among those showing the most thinning in the depressed women.

There was no significant link between the degree of bone loss and the severity of depression or the cumulative number of depressive episodes, the researchers found. The depressed women had been diagnosed with mild depression and were having, or had recently had, a depressive episode.

The researchers who discovered the link between osteoporosis and depression say clinicians should be aware of depression as a major risk factor for osteoporosis when evaluating and counseling women about the disease.