Although it has been repeatedly suggested that low bone mineral density (BMD) is disproportionately prevalent among patients with depressive disorders, so far depression has not been officially acknowledged as a risk factor for osteoporosis. In a recent meta-analysis comparing depressed with nondepressed individuals we report that BMD is lower in depressed than nondepressed subjects. The association between depression and BMD is stronger in women than men, and in premenopausal than postmenopausal women. Only women psychiatrically diagnosed for major depression display significantly low BMD; women diagnosed by self-rating questionnaires do not. Using a mouse model for depression, we demonstrate a causal relationship between depressive-like behavior and bone loss. The depression-induced bone loss is associated with increases in skeletal norepinephrine and serum corticosterone levels. Bone loss, but not the depressive behavior, could be prevented by a beta-blocker. Hence, depression appears as a significant risk factor for low BMD, causing bone loss through stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system.