Major Depression Is a Risk Factor for Low Bone Mineral Density: A Meta-Analysis

Raz Yirmiya*, Itai Bab

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Background: The role of depression as a risk factor for low bone mineral density (BMD) and osteoporosis is not fully acknowledged, mainly because the relevant literature is inconsistent and because information on the mechanisms mediating brain-to-bone signals is rather scanty. Methods: Searching databases and reviewing citations in relevant articles, we identified 23 studies that quantitatively address the relationship between depression and skeletal status, comparing 2327 depressed with 21,141 nondepressed individuals. We subjected these studies to meta-analysis, assessing the association between depression and BMD as well as between depression and bone turnover markers. Results: Overall, depressed individuals displayed lower BMD than nondepressed subjects, with a composite weighted mean effect size (d) of -.23 (95% confidence interval: -.33 to -.13; p < .001). The association between depression and BMD was similar in the spine, hip, and forearm. It was stronger in women (d = -.24) than men (d = -.12) and in premenopausal (d = -.31) than postmenopausal (d = -.12) women. Only women individually diagnosed for major depression by a psychiatrist with DSM criteria displayed significantly low BMD (d = -.36); women diagnosed by self-rating questionnaires did not (d = -.06). Depressed subjects had increased urinary levels of bone resorption markers (d = .52). Conclusions: The present findings portray depression as a significant risk factor for low BMD. Premenopausal women who are psychiatrically diagnosed with major depression are particularly at high-risk for depression-associated low BMD. Hence, periodic BMD measurements and antiosteoporotic prophylactic and curative measures are strongly advocated for these patients.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)423-432
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant Number 107/06). Both authors had full access to all of the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.


  • Bone mineral density
  • major depression
  • meta-analysis
  • osteoporosis


Dive into the research topics of 'Major Depression Is a Risk Factor for Low Bone Mineral Density: A Meta-Analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this