Women going through menopause are often prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)—a class of antidepressants that help manage symptoms. However, new research published in the journal The BMJ, Injury Prevention shows that taking SSRIs may increase the risk of fractures among menopausal women.
Researchers used the PharMetrics Claims Database to examine detailed health information about 61 million patients in the U.S. They narrowed the participants down to 137,031 women between the ages of 40 and 64 who had no mental health issues, but who were prescribed SSRIs sometime between 1998 and 2010.
The results showed that, compared to women in the same age range who were taking a different type of drug (proton pump inhibitors, or H2 antagonists typically prescribed for indigestion), the fracture rate in the SSRIs group was 76% higher after one year of treatment, 73% higher two years into treatment, and 67% higher after five years of treatment.
This is concerning, because SSRIs are now the third most commonly prescribed category of drugs in the U.S., usually for non-psychiatric disorders. For menopausal women, they’re often used as an alternative treatment method to hormone replacement therapy, because of their ability to help manage symptoms like night sweats and hot flashes.
The researchers behind this study believe the increased risk is caused by the bone-thinning effect of SSRIs, which in turn results in reduced bone density and increased fracture risk in otherwise healthy women. They therefore suggest that when taking SSRIs for non-psychiatric and menopause-related symptoms, shorter-term treatments are preferred.
Source for Today’s Article:
MacGill, M., “‘Fracture risk’ from SSRI antidepressants used for menopause,” Medical News Today web site, June 28, 2015; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/295889.php.