Low Testosterone and Depression: Is There a Connection?
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is a male hormone called an androgen. And it contributes to bodily functions that include:
- muscle strength
- sex drive
- bone density
- body fat distribution
- sperm production
Although testosterone is categorized as a male hormone, women also produce it, but in lower concentrations than men.
Low testosterone (low T) in men and women can cause a number of physical and emotional symptoms, including depression.
Why is my testosterone low?
Low T is known as hypogonadism. Primary hypogonadism is a problem with your testicles, the organs that produce testosterone.
As men and women age beyond their 30’s, their normal testosterone production and resulting levels begin to become deficient, often exceeding 50% deficiency levels.
Men who have had a testicular injury might experience primary hypogonadism, which could be caused by:
- cancer treatments
- higher than normal levels of iron in the blood
Secondary hypogonadism occurs when your pituitary gland doesn’t receive signals to make more testosterone. Causes for this signaling failure could include:
- normal aging
- use of opioid medications
Symptoms of low testosterone
Low T can lead to several changes in your physical and emotional life. The biggest difference might be your sexual desire and function. It’s not unusual for men with low T to experience a significant drop in sex drive. You might find erections are more difficult to achieve and maintain or you may experience infertility.
Testosterone also plays a role in bone and muscle strength. When your hormone levels drop, you are likely to lose bone and muscle mass, and you might gain weight. These changes can put you at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Men of all ages can suffer from low T, but it’s more common in older adults.
Low T and depression
Depression, anxiety, irritability, and other mood changes are common in men and women with low T. However, researchers aren’t sure what causes the correlation. Testosterone therapy can boost the mood of many people with low T, particularly older adults.
Is it low T or is it depression?
The shared symptoms of low T and depression can make diagnosis tricky. To complicate matters, depression, difficulty thinking, and anxiety are also normal signs of aging.
Symptoms that are common to both low T and depression include:
- low sex drive
- memory problems
- trouble concentrating
- sleep problems
The physical symptoms of low testosterone and depression, however, tend to be different. People who have depression but have normal hormone levels generally do not experience breast swelling and decreased muscle mass and strength that are associated with low T.
The physical manifestations of depression are often centered around headaches and back pain.
If you or a loved one feels blue, irritable, or simply not yourself, make an appointment with RenewFX today. A physical exam and blood work can help determine if your testosterone levels are normal, or if you’re experiencing androgen deficiency.
Low T and women
Men are not the only ones who may show a decline in mental health when their essential hormone levels drop. One study found that women who have low T often experience depression. Female low T is diagnosed and treated primarily in women experiencing peri-menopause or are postmenopausal.
Hormone replacement therapy is a treatment option that helps restore normal testosterone levels. Bio-identical Testosterone Replacement therapy is available in several different forms. The more common choices include injections, patches that you wear on your skin, and a topical cream or gel that your body absorbs through the skin.
Your RenewFX Hormone Specialty Physician can help you decide which delivery method is best for your lifestyle and level of health.
In some men, low T may affect self-confidence and physical well-being. Insomnia, memory problems, and trouble concentrating that may accompany low T may all be contributing factors.
Low T affects everyone differently.
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