SSRI antidepressants are presrcibed for some women going through menopause to help ease mood swings and hot flashes. But the medications could raise women’s risk of injury.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are a class of antidepressant drugs that are given to millions of Americans each year. Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft are some of the common brand name SSRIs.

Now, a new study published in the journal Injury Prevention, reports that women who are in menopause and taking SSRIs are at a higher risk of developing bone fractures.

Results of the study show that the higher risk of developing bone fractures can stay on for several years. That has spurred the study authors to suggest doctors consider shortening the period of time they put their older female patients on the SSRIs.

More studies are needed to see if the same link is found at lower doses of the SSRI drugs, the researchers said.

The study found that compared with women treated with indigestion drugs:

  • The fracture rate was 76% higher among those prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) 1 year after starting treatment

  • 73% higher after 2 years of treatment

  • 67% higher after 5 years.

A potential causes for the increased risk, the authors wrote, is that fractures associated with SSRI use can be “at least partially attributed to antidepressant-related modulation of bone homeostasis in favor of osteoclastic activity.”

SSRI use and risk of fractures among perimenopausal women without mental disorders Yi-han Sheu, Amy Lanteigne, Til Stürmer, Virginia Pate, Deborah Azrael, Matthew Miller Inj Prev injuryprev-2014-041483  doi:10.1136/injuryprev-2014-041483

Illustration: Wellcome Images

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