Low Testosterone May Affect Your Mental Health
Low testosterone can cause many different symptoms, including physical and emotional. Low testosterone often co-occurs with conditions like depression and anxiety. Therefore, testosterone may play an important role in your mental health. Many men with low testosterone levels also experience mood changes that can disrupt their daily life. Some evidence suggests that treating low T may help reduce these symptoms and help you feel like yourself again.
Low testosterone can change your mood and may lead to symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions.
More than 16 million Americans suffer from depression. This mental illness is considered by the World Health Organization to be one of the leading causes of poor health and disability worldwide. However, an estimated 30% of people with depression don’t experience long-term symptom relief even after trying multiple treatments. Researchers have started to look at testosterone replacement therapy for depression, with some encouraging results.
Low Testosterone Can Affect Your Mood
While everyone’s testosterone levels start to decrease as they age, some people end up with levels that are lower than average. This can cause a lot of unwanted symptoms, like weight gain, erectile dysfunction, and more. However, what many people don’t realize is that low testosterone can also affect your mood.
Many people experience gradual mood changes as they develop low T. Some blame these changes on stress or normal aging. However, it may be a sign to have your hormone levels checked out.
Testosterone is a neuroactive steroid. This means that the hormone can affect how your central nervous system functions. Many researchers believe this may be the key to why low testosterone can affect mood.
In addition, in some animal studies, testosterone treatment could boost serotonin production. Therefore, there may be a link between testosterone and serotonin, also known as the happy chemical.
Also, many of the other effects of low testosterone may impact your mood. For example, many men experience weight gain due to low testosterone levels. This can affect your self-confidence and may lead to symptoms of social anxiety or depression. Other symptoms, like low libido and sexual dysfunction, may also impact your romantic relationships. This could be another indirect cause of mood changes.
While experts are still studying the connection between testosterone and mood, many studies and also anecdotal evidence suggests that the association may be stronger than we previously believed.
Low Testosterone Levels Linked with Depressive Symptoms
In addition, several studies associate low testosterone with depressive disorders and symptoms. For example, middle-aged men with low testosterone are more likely to experience depressive symptoms compared to those with normal testosterone levels.
One study out of Toronto looked at testosterone levels in those who had depression. The research found that many of the men had low levels of bioavailable testosterone. This is the testosterone that your body can use. They also had lower levels of total testosterone in their blood. Therefore, research suggests a link between low testosterone and depression.
Another study found that 56% of patients referred to a physician in Washington for borderline low T levels also had depression. In addition to depression symptoms, those patients also reported symptoms like low libido and erectile dysfunction. The researchers concluded that doctors should screen men with lower testosterone levels for depression.
An article published in Psychology Today even suggested that new on-set depression that comes on gradually in men with no past or family history of depression may be due to hypogonadism. Therefore, many acknowledge low testosterone's potential effects on mood and the link between testosterone and depression.
Signs of Low T And Mental Health Issues are Often Similar
Another important thing to note is that low testosterone and mental health disorders can share a lot of the same symptoms.
Low testosterone levels can cause many different symptoms, including:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory difficulties
- Low libido
Many of these symptoms are very similar to depression and anxiety disorders, so it can make it difficult to distinguish between some mental health conditions and low testosterone.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy May Help Reduce Symptoms of Depression
While research is ongoing on the link between depression and testosterone, some studies suggest that TRT may help relieve depressive symptoms and boost mood if you have low testosterone levels.
One large study published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal looked at 27 different randomized clinical trials looking at testosterone’s effects on depression. The study found that TRT may positively affect those with low testosterone and depression.
The researchers found that testosterone replacement therapy had a moderate antidepressant effect compared to a placebo and offered clinically significant reductions in depressive symptoms. Many people in the study noticed benefits. However, testosterone was most effective for middle-aged men with low testosterone in the study. Researchers also noted that TRT may be more effective for those experiencing less severe depression.
As research continues, this may open up a positive step for those with depression and low T. This may be especially helpful for men with already low testosterone levels, as many antidepressants can lower testosterone, sometimes as much as 30-80%. Many people experience sexual dysfunction as a side effect of traditional depression treatments, which is why the potential for testosterone to help with depression is so exciting in the healthcare community.