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The Depression and Testosterone Relationship

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We all know that as a ‘male’ hormone, testosterone is responsible for physical characteristics such as increased muscle mass and enhanced masculinity – it is the cornerstone of any well-built, muscular physique. But what about its relationship to more psychological traits such as mood?

In this article we’ll take a look at the link between the two and answer the following questions:

  • What is depression?
  • Are depression and testosterone levels related?
  • What can you do to boost your mood?

What is Depression?

Chronic low mood is amongst the top five leading causes of disability and disease burden throughout the world [1].

It is common in modern life to go through various moods on a day-to-day basis, sometimes you might feel a little low for even a few days at a time. Stressful events are part of life – loss, threat and defeat, and that is completely normal.

However, if you suffer from a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities for more than two weeks, you may have a mood disorder. In order to properly diagnose this illness, a clinician will typically ask you to complete a DSM-IV questionnaire that rates your mood, feelings and function, and then gives you feedback on your approach to life.

Depression works on a continuum where a full spectrum of symptoms exist based on how severe the illness is. Although the outcome is different for each individual, here are a few common symptoms:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness
  • Loss of energy and consistent tiredness
  • Loss of confidence and self-esteem, leading to isolation and loneliness
  • Avoiding others and becoming isolated and lonely
  • Poor quality or no sleep
  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Thoughts about suicide and death

Symptoms of Low T – clinically low testosterone levels, include diminished muscle mass and physical strength, as well as decreased bone mineral density. Sufferers can also be affected by decreased libido, fatigue, low energy and mood, and irritability – all symptoms of depressive illness too.

There appears to be a link between chronic low-mood and levels of male androgen hormones – but can low T cause mood disorders or vice versa? Let’s have a look at what the research says…


Low-Mood-and-T-Levels

Key Point: Depression is characterized by feelings of low mood, loss of energy, isolation and decreased interest in life.


Can Low Testosterone cause Depression?

There has been a great deal of research into male health and links to psychological illness. Here is a look at the most useful research:

#Study 1: Westley, Irwig et al [2]

A very recent study, published in 2015 by Michael Irwig MD and colleagues reported that men with low testosterone levels can often show signs of clinically low mood.

In a study of 200 volunteers they reported that as high as 56% of men have symptoms of chronic low mood, had been diagnosed, or were using anti-depressant medication. 

Just to give it some context, general population figures are as low as 9-23% so there appears to be much higher risk of mood disorder for anyone suffering with low T.

#Study 2: Shores [3]

The link between mood and circulating androgen levels was studied by Shores and colleagues in 2004. They wanted to know if men with low T were more likely to suffer with mood-related illnesses that affect their quality of life.

To do this they recruited 278 men over the age of 45 who had either normal or low T levels, but who at the time showed no mood related illness. They then tracked them for 4 years to see what happened.

The results were astonishing – they reported that at the 2-year mark, 21.7% of men with low T were diagnosed with depressive illness, as opposed to only 7.1% in those with normal T concentrations. That made them around 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with the illness.

#Study 3: Schweiger [4]

Similar results have been found in a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine as well. 22 healthy men and 15 men with a diagnosed major mood disorder volunteered to have their hormone levels tracked over a 14-hour period. When the results were analyzed, the authors of the study reported that daytime, nighttime and overall 24-hour T levels were lower in the group of 15 low mood volunteers.

On top of that, they also reported a reduced luteinizing hormone (LH) pulse in the 15 men as well – this is pulse is needed to stimulate testosterone levels. The study concluded that gonadal function may be disturbed in men with a depressive episode of moderate to high severity. 

#Study 4: Barrett-Connor et al [5]

Lastly, this study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism analyzed the T levels of 856 men, aged 50-89.

They found that testosterone levels were 17% lower in men with categorically defined low mood than levels observed in all other men, suggesting that by keeping testosterone elevated, symptoms of depression could be reduced.


exercise-andropause-treatment

Key Point: Research suggests that men are much more likely to suffer the negative effects of chronic low mood illness as testosterone levels decrease.


Summary – T Levels and Low Mood

Depression is amongst the top five leading causes of disability and disease burden throughout the world. It is characterized by persistent feelings of low mood and sadness; tiredness and lethargy; reduced sleep quality; and in severe cases, thoughts of suicide and death.

A number of symptoms coincide with low testosterone – these include feelings of irritability, decreased sex drive and reduced energy – and this may develop into low mood simply out of frustration as well as on a chemical level.

Research suggests that low T may be a contributing factor for depressive illness, with men 4 times more likely to suffer from mood-related illness as androgen levels drop to low levels.

At present there is very little evidence out there to suggest why the two illnesses are related, but there are several possible explanations. Regardless of the mechanism behind it, as a preventative measure it is important to ensure you keep your testosterone levels elevated.


What can you do to boost your T levels?

A good way to boost your testosterone levels safety and naturally is to take an anabolic support complex supplement such as TestoFuel.

It contain only safe ingredients guaranteed to support your hormones and help your body release its own testosterone.

TestoFuel contains specifically selected nutrients such as oyster extract, magnesium and zinc, which have been shown to increase testosterone release in the body. More testosterone means more growth, bigger muscles, more energy, faster recovery and a host of other benefits. It may also help to support your mood, give you more energy and increase your libido.


References

  1. Caspi, A et al. Influence of Life Stress on Depression: Moderation by a Polymorphism in the 5-HTT Gene. Science. 2003; 301
  2. Westley CJ, Amdur RL, and Irwig MS. High rates of depression and depressive symptoms among men referred for borderline testosterone levels. J Sex Med 2015; 12: 1753–1760.
  3. Shores, M et al. Increased Incidence of Diagnosed Depressive Illness in HypogonadalOlder Men. JAMA. 2004; 61(2)
  4. Schweiger, U et al. Testosterone, Gonadotropin, and Cortisol Secretion in Male Patients With Major Depression. Psychosomatic Medicine. 1999; 61:292–296
  5. Barrett-Connor, E et al. Bioavailable testosterone and depressed mood in older men: the Rancho Bernardo Study. 

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