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A “Stress” Fracture of a Different Kind: How Our Emotions Affect Our Bone Health

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Bones & Joints related image Photo: Getty Images

I never really gave much thought over the years as to how my emotional well-being might have affected my physical health, but it seems that in recent years, I have read so many studies on the parallel between emotional well-being and physical well-being. Stress has been related to a host of diseases and illnesses, but I was surprised to see how it can significantly impact our bone health.

When we are under stress, our bodies produce the hormone called cortisol. This hormone has a host of effects on the body, and one of those is moving the calcium through the bone and increasing its secretion through the urine. So when we become stressed, our bones begin to release minerals necessary for bone formation back into the bloodstream to aid other tissues. Since the majority of us suffer from chronic stress, that can lead to bones that are deprived of the necessary minerals they require to be strong and healthy. Sadly, most of these minerals are not often replaced by diet.

One of the leading health concerns today is depression. Studies have shown that women who have suffered from depression or are currently depressed have lower bone density than women who have never experienced this condition. Depression, much like stress, increases the production of cortisol, and depressed women are probably less likely to consume adequate nutrition for bone health. Compounding that equation, they are typically less active than their non-depressed counterparts.

Emotions obviously play a pivotal role in our bone health. While we cannot always avoid stress, we can change the way we respond to it and reduce its impact on our health. One of the best stress relievers for me is exercise. Not only does it immediately improve your mood, but it directly stimulates bone formation.

Meditation is another terrific response to combat stress, as well as engaging in deep-breathing exercises. It would also be great to get at least seven or eight hours of sleep each night, although that is not always possible. (I keep hoping that one of these days that will be a possibility for me! It sure doesn’t look promising right now, however!)

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.