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Be Well
Dr. Jamie Fettig

Why Trust me, Dr. Jamie?

Is Your Doctor Increasing Your Risk of Osteoporosis?

Anti-Aging Tip: Is Your Doctor Increasing Your Risk of Osteoporosis?

By Al Sears, MD

If you go to a doctor for anxiety or depression, chances are he'll hand you a prescription for an antidepressant drug, like Zoloft or Prozac. As popular as these drugs are, they have dozens of unfortunate side effects, including impotence, weight gain, and low blood pressure.

Now there's another one: osteoporosis. Researchers in Canada recently discovered that people over 50 who take antidepressants have double the risk of this bone-loss condition. The study - published in the Archives of Internal Medicine - found that the pills may have a direct effect on bone cells, decreasing bone size and strength. The result is an increased risk for broken bones and further loss of bone density.

Fortunately for you and your bones, you don't need a prescription to get relief from depression. There's a natural option called SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine), which is present in every cell in your body. Scientists have been studying SAM-e for decades. In most cases, it is as effective as antidepressant drugs - and it doesn't have the side effects.

A few years ago, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study that compared SAM-e and a popular antidepressant for six weeks. All the participants showed positive improvement, but those taking the SAM-e reported almost no side effects. (On rare occasions, SAM-e will upset your stomach - or, very rarely, may cause a skin rash. But these symptoms disappear when you stop taking it.) At the end of the study, SAM-e had performed just as well as the prescription drug and was better tolerated.

SAM-e is widely available. You can find it in health food stores, drugstores, and on the Internet. I recommend starting with 200 mg of SAM-e per day. If my patients see little improvement after two weeks, I increase the dose to 400 mg once a day.

If your depression or anxiety persists, contact your doctor. But be sure to discuss your non-prescription treatment options before you start taking antidepressant drugs.

[Ed. Note: Dr. Sears, a practicing physician and the author of The Doctor's Heart Cure , is a leading authority on longevity, physical fitness, and heart health.]


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