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Open Access

Document Type


Degree Program

Public Health

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, Bone Mineral Density, Bone Mineral Content, Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry, Premenopausal


Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Bone mineral Density in a Population of U.S. Premenopausal Women

May 2011

M.S., UNIVERSITY of Massachusetts Amherst

Directed by: Professor Elizabeth R. Bertone-Johnson

Low bone mineral density (BMD) in post-menopausal women is a risk factor for bone fractures and osteoporosis development. Prior studies in post-menopausal women have shown the use of antidepressant medications, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to be inversely related to BMD. However, the association has not been studied in pre-menopausal women. Current SSRI use is widespread with 8% of U.S. women age 18-44 reporting use. We evaluated the association between SSRIs and BMD and bone mineral content (BMC) cross-sectionally using data from the University of Massachusetts Vitamin D Status Study. SSRI use, diet, and lifestyle factors were assessed by questionnaire. BMD and BMC were measured using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). The study included 256 women aged 18-30 (mean=21.6 years, SD=4.3 years). In this population, SSRI use was 5%, BMD values ranged from 0.97-1.38 g/cm2 (mean 1.16, SD 0.08), and BMC values ranged from 1833g to 3682g (mean 2541.5, SD=349.2). After adjustment for age, body mass index, and physical activity, mean BMD in the 13 users of SSRIs was 1.15g/cm2 (SD=0.06) compared to 1.16g/cm2 (SD=0.77) in the 243 non-users (p =0.66). After the same adjustments, mean BMC in the 13 users was 2467.1g (SD=285.0) compared to 2547.6g (SD=352.6) in the 243 non-users (p=0.94). Our findings do not support an inverse association between SSRI use and BMD or BMC. However, given the prevalence of SSRI use in young women and the potential for adverse effects on bone health, further study of this association is warranted.


First Advisor

Elizabeth R. Bertone-Johnson

Included in

Epidemiology Commons