Osteoporosis Myth: Osteoporosis Doesn't Cause Any Emotional Problems
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Reality: The emotional toll of osteoporosis is very real. Having a fracture, or even seeing yourself as more "fragile" than you once thought you were, can lead to a negative body image, poor self-esteem, and a sense of limitations in activity and mobility.
Kyphosis, the "dowager's hump" that results from vertebral fractures, has been associated with significant depression in people with osteoporosis. After one fracture, many people with osteoporosis are so fearful that they may fall and injure themselves again that they don't pursue the activities they enjoy.
It is important to identify the symptoms of spinal compression fractures and notify your doctor right away. Sudden, severe back pain, especially in older women, may signal a spinal compression fracture or another serious condition.
Anyone with significant back pain -- especially a woman who is near or over age 50 -- should see a doctor. Most compression fractures in women over 50 are due to osteoporosis and treatment can help reduce the chance of further compression fractures.
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One way to cope with depression and other psychological problems related to osteoporosis is to find support from other people going through the same thing. The National Osteoporosis Foundation sponsors local support groups called Building Strength Together. Anyone can start one in their community. You can find one, join one, or start one on their web site at http://www.nof.org/patientinfo/support_groups.htm.
When you have the opportunity to share your concerns, fears, and other feelings with others like you, and learn from their experiences, it can help to ease isolation and depression.
Another important coping tool for depression is exercise. Regular exercise is proven to boost self-esteem and relieve anxiety, stress, and depression. Exercise also helps maintain bone health. If you've had a fracture, it's important to talk to your doctor about what kinds of exercise are safe for you. With your doctor's advice, you should be able to pursue activities that will keep your body strong and help beat back depression at the same time.