The connection between your physical health and your mental health should never be overlooked. Your physical health can have a serious impact on your emotional state, and mental health issues can lead to a decline in physical health. In older adults, there seems to be a strong link between depression and osteoporosis. If you suffer from one or both conditions, you should understand how they may be connected.
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes tissue loss in your bones, which results in your bones becoming brittle and prone to fracture. Your body is always breaking down and replacing your bone tissue, but osteoporosis prevents your body from replenishing the tissue at an adequate rate. In severe cases, your bones can become so weak that even simple movements may cause them to break.
Osteoporosis can affect anyone. It may be caused by hormone imbalances or by certain nutrient deficiencies. However, osteoporosis is most common in older women. Lifestyle factors can play a role in the development of osteoporosis, too. For example, people who lead a sedentary lifestyle may be at an increased risk.
The Connection Between Depression and Osteoporosis
Depression and osteoporosis may sound like completely separate conditions, but researchers have identified a link between the two. People with osteoporosis are more likely to be diagnosed with depression than the general population. One research review of several scientific studies found that people with depression have a 6% to 15% lower bone density on average than people without depression. Another study found a connection between depression and bone density in the hip. Although experts have several suggestions, the exact reason for the connection between depression and osteoporosis is unclear.
The research suggests that depression can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. Depression and other mental health issues increase inflammation, which can cause your bone cells to break down without being replenished. People with depression also struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Staying active, eating healthy foods, and going to the doctor regularly can feel impossible when you have no energy or motivation. Poor physical health overall can lead to osteoporosis, which may explain why seniors with depression have a much higher risk.
In certain cases, medications explain the connection between depression and osteoporosis. Some antidepressants are known to affect bone density and create a risk of fractures. SSRI medications interact with the serotonin transporter to alter the levels of serotonin in your brain. Your bone cells also contain serotonin transporters, so the medication may have a direct effect on your bones. However, this does not mean that you should stop taking your antidepressant medication to prevent osteoporosis. If you’re concerned about depression and osteoporosis, you should consult with your doctor about how to reduce your risk.
Depression may increase the risk of osteoporosis, but osteoporosis may also increase the risk of depression. While you may have little or no symptoms in the early stages of osteoporosis, the condition can take a toll on your quality of life if it progresses. You might be scared to move when you know how easy it is for your bones to fracture. Even getting dressed and walking out of the house could cause anxiety. Spending more time at home and being sedentary can have serious mental health consequences, though.
Some seniors struggle with depression and osteoporosis because of the visible effects of osteoporosis on the body. Osteoporosis can cause hunched posture, changes in your face, and other noticeable differences. Seeing your body change can be emotionally painful, and you may withdraw and isolate as a result.
Managing Depression and Osteoporosis
Managing depression and osteoporosis can be difficult, but you can continue to live a healthy life with support from your healthcare providers. If you’re an aging adult with depression, you should watch out for the signs and symptoms of osteoporosis. If you have osteoporosis, you should regularly check in with your mental health.
The most important thing you can do to manage depression and osteoporosis is to follow your doctor’s recommendations. Medications, hormone therapies, and other treatments can help to increase your bone density and reduce your risk of injury. Keeping up with medical appointments and sticking to your treatment plan is essential.
Lifestyle changes are another great way to keep your depression and osteoporosis under control. Many lifestyle factors are linked to both depression and osteoporosis, so focusing on following an overall healthy lifestyle can be hugely beneficial to your quality of life. Completely transforming your life when you have depression may feel impossible. Instead, try to focus on small and sustainable changes, like adding more healthy foods to your diet or taking a short daily walk. Reducing your stress with deep breathing, mindfulness, or other relaxing exercises is helpful for both your body and mind, too.
If you’re concerned about the impact depression and osteoporosis are having on your mental health, psychotherapy can help. Senior counseling for depression is highly effective for most individuals. During psychotherapy, you can explore the root causes of your depression and process how you feel about your osteoporosis. As you learn to let go of the negative thoughts that are weighing you down, you may find it easier to manage your osteoporosis and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
In addition to senior counseling, support groups are a valuable mental health resource. Osteoporosis can be an isolating condition. Speaking with other people who understand your stress and exhaustion can help you feel less alone. You may also learn some useful tips for managing the condition and improving your outlook.
Depression and osteoporosis are both extremely challenging conditions, especially when they occur alongside one another. Support for your mental and physical health is available, though. By working closely with your doctors and seeking psychotherapy or other mental health support, you can keep your symptoms under control.
Blue Moon Senior Counseling offers psychotherapy for older adults with mental health disorders, chronic health conditions, and other concerns. Contact us today to learn more about senior counseling for depression.