Male hypogonadism, also known as low testosterone, is a condition where your body produces insufficient levels of testosterone, which can result in unpleasant symptoms. Capable of setting off additional health complications, a testosterone deficiency can contribute to various disorders, including depression — adding more symptoms to the mix for you to deal with.
According to the American Urology Association (AUA), normal levels of testosterone are above 300 ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter).
But besides the typical symptoms of low testosterone, you’re also at a higher risk for depression, gynecomastia (causing enlarged male breast tissue), and memory fog.
What Is Depression?
How can low testosterone have such a wide-ranging impact on men’s health? How can a testosterone deficiency trigger depression, in particular — and affect your mental health, mood, and energy levels?
The American Psychiatric Association defines depression as a serious, but also common disorder, that can affect your life in many ways: impacting the way you feel, think, and act.
Depression can also be the root cause of many other emotional and physical issues and adversely influence your professional performance, as well as your personal life.
Symptoms of depression persist for a period of time and are not shaken within a few days. About one in every 15 adults suffers from depression in a given year, making it about 7% of adults every year. Roughly 17% or one in every six individuals will go through depression at some point in their lives.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression comes in many shapes and colors. They may be mild, moderate, or severe and can stir up an array of symptoms. The disorder can be detected by recognizing the below symptoms:
- Low mood
- Lingering feelings of sadness
- Trouble sleeping
- Changes in weight
- Developing a skewed perception of your self-worth
- Increased fatigue
- Decrease in energy levels
- Trouble focusing on tasks
- Thoughts about harming yourself
Despite the many distressing facets of depression, the good news is that the disorder can be treated. However, it’s imperative the underlying cause of your depression is determined, so that appropriate treatment steps can be initiated.
The Connection Between Testosterone Deficiency & Depression
Testosterone is the male sex hormone and is naturally produced by your body. But just like other hormonal imbalances, a testosterone deficiency can result in a change in mental health, lead to increased fatigue, low energy levels, and depression.
There has long been a link between fluctuations in hormone levels and symptoms of depression. This includes a variety of hormonal imbalances in both men and women. Whether it’s hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, menopause, pregnancy, or low testosterone — the concept remains the same.
In many cases, when hormone levels plummet, serotonin levels decline as well. But what is serotonin?
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter transferring messages between your brain and your body; it significantly impacts your mood, sleep, and many other aspects of your health. Research findings indicate there may be a link between serotonin and your levels of testosterone — with testosterone able to enhance serotonin activity in your brain and boost your mental health.
A meta-analysis of 27 placebo-controlled studies showed that testosterone therapy played a significant role in reducing symptoms of depression in men. This review suggests that higher testosterone levels are associated with positive mental health outcomes, underlining the importance of keeping your testosterone levels within a normal range.
Due to the nature of testosterone, scientists have been investigating its impact on mood and depression for a while. Several trials suggest that both high and low levels of testosterone can impact depression and mood — with increased testosterone levels improving depressive disorders and low levels leading to depression within subpopulations.
How to Determine if Your Depression Is Caused by a Testosterone Deficiency?
There are countless factors that can lead to depression and cause you to experience frustrating symptoms, leaving you feeling sad and deprived of energy. So how can you determine if your testosterone deficiency and your depression are linked and that there’s no other reason for your decline in mental health?
Depression can be the result of traumatic events, the loss of a loved one, or a conflict that’s weighing you down. But it can also be caused by medications and substance abuse. The likelihood of developing a depressive disorder further increases the older you get, making age another important variable.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression but none of the other potential causes apply to you, it might be time to check your testosterone levels. More likely than not, you’ve noticed some changes in your body and may already be experiencing common low T symptoms.
These symptoms include:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Low libido
- Decrease in physical performance
- Decrease in muscle mass
- Decrease in bone density
- Increase in the amount of body fat you have
Seek a qualified healthcare provider for advice as some of these symptoms can also be caused by conditions like diabetes. But if your testosterone deficiency is the true culprit, your doctor will easily be able to determine your testosterone levels through a simple blood test and let you know if your hormone levels are low.
How to Treat Depression that Originates from Low Testosterone?
There are two primary options for treating common types of depressive disorder and boosting your mental health. Option one relies on antidepressants to counteract a chemical imbalance in your brain that has been triggered by your depression, while option two involves seeking a mental health professional and beginning counseling.
However, if your testosterone deficiency is the underlying reason for your depression, you should treat the root cause — meaning that you’ll have to balance out your testosterone levels first.
Once your testosterone levels are back within normal range, any symptoms you may have experienced will likely begin to cease.
Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is versatile and varies from oral testosterone to topical gels and patches to subcutaneous injections. Your doctor will determine the best treatment option for you and you should see your mental health improving very soon.
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