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Does Low Testosterone Cause Depression

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The Connection Between Low Testosterone And Depression Opens Up Treatment Options For Men

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Most people know that testosterone is a critical part of physical wellbeing. However, a growing body of research suggests that this multifaceted hormone can also play a role in mental health in men. For example, a 2016 study on older men found that low serum testosterone was associated with an 86% increased hazard of depression. This study echoed earlier research, which has consistently found a strong correlation between the two, indicating a likely causal relationship. In fact, even borderline testosterone levels are associated with significantly higher rates of depression and/or depressive symptoms. This is significant not only because it may help some men uncover the roots of their depression, but because it offers a potential solution: testosterone replacement therapy . Indeed, a 2019 review and meta-analysis of 27 randomized controlled trials found that testosterone treatment appears to be effective and efficacious in reducing depressive symptoms in men.

If youre struggling with depression, seek help from a qualified psychiatrist or psychologist as a first line of defense. But if youre also experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, you may want to speak with your mental health team about the possibility of starting testosterone replacement therapy. TRT could be instrumental in your treatment plan and help you regain a sense of vitality and wellbeing.

Testosterone Levels And Mental Health

Fair question. When your testosterone levels are low, it can cause a bunch of emotional and physical symptoms which include depression. In case you are not in the loop, low levels of testosterone in men can point to a disorder called hypogonadism.

This happens when a males reproductive system is not able to produce enough testosterone for their body. Men who have had an injury to their reproductive system that may have whats called primary hypogonadism. But have no fear this only occurs in males who have had higher than normal levels of iron in their blood or mumps.

On the other hand, there is also a secondary hypogonadism. This can affect men whose pituitary gland doesnt get the signal to produce the right amount of testosterone. If you are feeling super curious, secondary hypogonadism can happen if you are:

  • Taking opioid medications
  • Aging normally

Does this sound familiar?

If yes, you might want to try hormone placement therapy. Heres the kicker your treatment plan may be different depending on the particular cause of your low T condition.

But what are the symptoms of low testosterone?

Four Ways Low Testosterone Can Affect Your Mood

Lets be honestyouve probably thought about the ways testosterone changes might be affecting performance, and even how they may be influencing certain aspects of your appearance .

After all, things like that are tough to ignore when when your sex drive isnt quite what it used to be or when your jeans start feeling just a little bit too tight.

For better or worse, these blunt external markers make it easy to recognize just how crucial testosterone is to your health, contributing to important physical developments such as body composition and physique, bone density, and even energy levels.

But what’s tougher to see out-of-the-gate is that healthy testosterone levels are also essential to keeping your mental health in good standing. Here are some of the most common ways low testosterone can trigger changes in your mood and mental health:

Lack of Focus

Everyone struggles with maintaining concentration from time to time, especially when digital distractions are at an all-time high. But low testosterone can amplify this problem. Namely, testosterone plays a pivotal role in supporting cognitive and organizational tasks. This means that low testosterone levels can make it harder to keep your mind concentrated and focused.


Its not uncommon for men with low testosterone to experience significant mood swings. When testosterone levels are low and cortisol levels are comparably high, resulting behaviors can include anger, hostility, anxiety, and overall irritability.

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Signs Of Low Testosterone

Low levels of testosterone in the body cause a number of symptoms including low sex drive, hair loss, fatigue, weakness, poor erection, loss of muscle mass, decreased bone mass, and infertility. However, low T can also cause emotional symptoms including depression, irritability, anxiety, mood changes, and sleep difficulty. Studies have shown, however, that depression does not affect only men. One study found that low T in women can also lead to depression. However, this is more common in post-menopausal women or women who are approaching the age of menopause.

How Testosterone Affects The Body And Mind

Does low testosterone cause depression?

Testosterone is an androgen and is primarily associated with your testicles and your pituitary gland. This hormone is responsible for a lot of good things in both men and womenand for men in particular, is the source for many of the things that define our masculinity, such as:

  • Muscle tone and strength

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Treatment & Support For Low Testosterone

Question: can low testosterone cause anxiety?

The short answer is yes. Luckily for you, there are a lot of different options in terms of treatment support for low testosterone levels. Hormone replacement therapy is a great option that will help you to balance and restore regular levels of testosterone.

Crazily enough, there are several forms of synthetic testosterone available on the market. In case youre curious, some of the most popular choices are:

  • Intravenous injections into your bloodstream
  • Dermal patches that you apply to your skin
  • Topical gels that are absorbed through your skin

However, its ultimately between you and your physician to figure out which method of delivery is right for your life, insurance, and health. Thats not all.

If you are a man with low levels of testosterone, you might also have issues with their physical appearance and self-confidence. Besides, concentration problems, memory loss, and insomnia negatively impact your well-being as well. But heres the catch: your mental symptoms could still remain after you decide on the proper course of treatment.

Fortunately for you, there is an answer to that as well. We suggest that you incorporate mindful meditation and breathing exercises into your daily life. Believe it or not, this can be a wonderful solution for those who have extreme anxiety and sleep problems.

Quick reminder: there is nothing wrong with jotting down your thoughts!

How To Tell If You Have Low Testosterone

Doctors will be able to determine your testosterone levels based on several factors, including a physical exam, symptom review, and blood tests.

You likely will need to undergo multiple blood tests on different days since your levels will fluctuate and need to be monitored for the most accurate assumption.

If your doctor agrees that you have low testosterone, you may need more tests before deciding on what to do next. For instance, if you have low testosterone, you may also have low bone density and the doctor will need to test for that as well.

Another concern to worry about in men is prostate cancer because testosterone can make it grow much faster in the body. If you have prostate cancer and also have low testosterone, adding more testosterone to supplement your low levels may cause cancer to become worse.

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Advanced Healthcare At Low T Center

If you think you may be suffering from low testosterone or another common mens health condition, our team at the Low T Center is here to help. We offer diagnostic and treatment services for a wide range of conditions, from low testosterone to hypothyroidism. Our team is here to help you start on the path toward better wellness. We are reinventing mens healthcare to make it as convenient, affordable, and accessible as possible so you can start feeling great again. Make an appointment today for a comprehensive health assessment to learn if you may be suffering from underlying health conditions.

Choose Bioidentical Testosterone Over Conventional

Low testosterone in men can cause depression

As you can see, testosterone replacement therapy can make a huge difference in the lives of men with low testosterone. The physical and emotional benefits of testosterone therapy can be gained by using bioidentical testosterone, which is testosterone that has been synthesized to exactly match the testosterone produced inside the body. Many natural and integrative healthcare practitioners prefer to prescribe bioidentical forms of testosterone rather than the more commonly prescribed pharmaceutical testosterone gels and injectables, which do not exactly match the bodys natural testosterone and may be associated with more side effects and long-term risks.

Read more about symptoms of low testosterone and the use of bioidentical testosterone in my previous article on testosterone therapy for depression in men, found here. If youve tried testosterone therapy, please tell us about your experiences in the comments section below.

Originally published in 2015, this post has been updated.

Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2014 Feb 26:19-32.

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Low Testosterone In Women

Testosterone is often thought of as a male hormone. However, those assigned female at birth also have testosterone in their bodies. Research shows that normal testosterone levels in females are vital to maintaining libido, cognitive function, lean muscle repair and growth, and bone strength. It may also play a role in reducing the risk of certain endocrine cancers.

It’s possible that as with males, female testosterone levels naturally decline with age, and may lead to symptoms, such as low energy and impaired muscle growth. But at this time, research into the effect of low testosterone in females is limited and there are no conclusive guidelines for what should be considered low testosterone levels in females.

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 JAMA Psychiatry journal looked at 27 different randomized clinical trials looking at testosterones effects on depression. The study found that TRT may have a positive effect for those with low testosterone and depression.

The researchers found that testosterone replacement therapy had a moderate antidepressant effect compared to 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.

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How Do I Check My Testosterone Level

Testosterone levels can be measured through a blood test but interpreting results is a bit complicated, as the range for whats normal is wide and varies for each person. Testosterone levels also change during the day and more generally decrease over time as a normal part of aging so there isnt a set number every guy should be at.

Symptoms of low testosterone include:

  • Reduced body and facial hair
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Low libido, impotence, small testicles, reduced sperm count and infertility
  • Increased breast size

What Do The Studies Say About Low Testosterone And Depression

Does low testosterone cause depression

In addition to the studies already mentioned above, a recent study published in Biological Psychiatry found that testosterone increases the number of proteins that transport serotonin into the brain. The research was done by a team from MedUni in Vienna. The study team believes this apparent link between testosterone and serotonin explains not only why testosterone supplements can boost mood but also why depression affects women more than men and older men more than younger men.

Its all about the link between testosterone levels and serotonin levels. The higher the level of testosterone in your blood, the higher the level of the feel good chemical, serotonin, in your brain. The reverse is also true. The lower your testosterone level, the lower your serotonin level, and therefore your increased risk of depression.

A 2004 study on the incidence of depression in men with low testosterone found that men with low testosterone who were studied over a two-year period were four times more likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression.

The head researcher on the projects, Molly M. Shores, MD, director of the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington in Seattle, said, “Older men would be particularly vulnerable to because serotonin receptors are already decreased from normal aging

But the most definitive study on testosterone and depression was published in 2019 in the journal JAMA Psychology.

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How Can High Testosterone Cause Depression

Depression is almost always associated with low testosterone levels. However, there have been incidences where too much testosterone has led to aggressive behavior in men and women so-called roid rage, and as a consequence may cause depression.

But this is rather uncommon and usually occurs when people abuse testosterone and is rarely if ever, a side effect of normally prescribe testosterone replacement therapy.

What Is Testosterone

Testosterone is primarily a male sex hormone. Like Ive already said, women have it as well. This statement goes both ways. Men have estrogen, which is a female sex hormone, in their bodies as well.

What separates these two groups is the level of both of those hormones. Logically, men have more testosterone and very little of estrogen and vice versa.

Of course, some men dont have enough testosterone and women who dont have enough estrogen, but we will talk about that later in the article.

Why is testosterone so important?

According to one study1, testosterone has a vital role regarding these points:

  • Bones

Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone produced in testicles. The hormone is vital for muscle mass and your bones. It also plays a role in sex drive, mood, fat distribution, production of red blood cells, erection quality, and verbal memory.

As you age, the production of testosterone starts decreasing, but different factors can accelerate the process. When this happens, men experience a plethora of signs and symptoms.

Identifying these symptoms helps you take the necessary measures to address them and improve testosterone production. Throughout this post, youre going to learn more about symptoms of low testosterone levels in men.

For example, a growing body of evidence2 confirms that the prevalence of low testosterone among men with type 2 diabetes is high.

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How Are They Linked

The link between the two isnt quite understood, even though we know its there. The two main theories are that testosterone has a direct effect on serotonin levels in the brain, and the mood changes that we know are caused by low testosterone levels, like anxiety and irritability, might eventually develop into depression.

Depression and low testosterone levels share several symptoms, so making a diagnosis based on symptoms alone can be tricky. Some of those shared symptoms are:

  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

There are physical indicators that can help clue you in to whether or not its low testosterone. If you have low testosterone levels, youll probably also see:

  • Breast enlargement or tenderness
  • Hot flashes

How To Increase Your Testosterone And Improve Your Mood

Are low testosterone and depression linked?

If you find that low testosterone is or may be responsible for your depression, then the next step is to consider what you can do to combat that low testosterone.

If you speak with your doctor then they might recommend you for hormone replacement therapy. This will involve increasing your testosterone levels simply by injecting you with more testosterone. This can be an effective way to help you quickly resolve the issue, but it can also have negative side effects. For instance, if you increase your testosterone through these unnatural means, then it can potentially cause you to stop producing as much testosterone naturally. In turn this can then cause you to have permanently lower T and that may leave you as being reliant on replacement therapy just to maintain normal levels.

Thus it is better to consider HRT as your last resort option. Meanwhile there are numerous safer and easier ways to increase your testosterone levels naturally. These include:

Exercise Especially using compound movements and HIIT .

Sleep You produce the lions share of your testosterone while you are sleeping and as such, the more you sleep, the more you will increase your T levels. Try to really prioritize higher quality sleep by going to bed at a set time, making sure your room is dark and the right temperature and avoiding caffeine before bed.

Make these changes to your diet and lifestyle and if you dont find they help your mood after a few months, consider speaking to your GP about HRT.

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The Connection Between Low T And Depression

If youre feeling down, irritable, hopeless or anxious, you could be depressed. At the same time, you could simply be experiencing some of the normal signs of aging, or you could have Low T. Getting to the source of how your body and mind are feeling is more complicated because Low T and depression share many symptoms, including:

  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Difficulty getting and maintaining an erection
  • Sadness
  • Memory problems and trouble concentrating
  • Sleep problems

However, for many people, the physical symptoms of Low T and depression are different. For example, if youre suffering from depression but have normal hormone levels, youre likely not experiencing the breast swelling and decreased muscle mass and strength associated with Low T. If your hormone levels are stable, the physical symptoms linked to your depression may surface in the form of headaches or back pain.

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