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Antidepressants And Women’s Bones

Certain antidepressants used to relieve hot flashes, night sweats and other menopausal symptoms appear to increase the risk of bone fractures. The class of drugs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), include Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Luvox, Paxil and Zoloft, and are now considered effective alternatives to hormone replacement therapy. Investigators from Boston’s Northeastern University used a pharmaceutical database to identify more than 137,000 women age 40 through 64 who began taking SSRIs for menopausal symptoms between 1998 and 2010 and compared them with some 236,000 women taking prescription drugs for indigestion. After one year, the fracture risk among the women on the SSRIs was 76 percent higher than it was in the women on the indigestion drugs, 73 percent higher after two years and 67 percent higher after three years. The database review didn’t prove that the SSRIs caused the increased risk, but earlier investigations have indicated that bone thinning is a possible side effect of SSRIs. The researchers suggested that, given these findings, women may want to consider taking the drugs for the shortest possible time and that research to determine whether the bone-thinning effect occurs at lower doses of SSRIs should be initiated.