Low testosterone (or Low T) is a clinical condition in which low levels of testosterone are found in association with specific signs and symptoms. Low T can result from one (or a combination) of the following:
Chronic medical conditions
An imbalance in hormones from weight gain
Part of the body’s natural aging process
For men living with low T, the symptoms can affect more than their libido. In fact, low T can affect an individual’s mental health and wellness—causing him to experience mood changes, feel fatigued, or show signs of depression.
Depression in Men
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, men and women show signs of depression differently: “Because men who are depressed may appear to be angry or aggressive instead of sad, their families, friends, and even their doctors may not always recognize the anger or aggression as depression symptoms.”
Although depression affects a large number of men, many are unwilling to discuss their symptoms publicly or seek professional help. This may be a result of the social stigmas surrounding men and mental health, or men being taught at an early age to hide their emotions.
Either way, there is almost always an underlying condition for why men experience symptoms of depression, and Low T may be one of them.
The History of Low Testosterone & Depression
For decades, medical professionals have discussed the relationship between testosterone and depression. Studies continue to be conducted on whether testosterone therapy can help alleviate depression-like symptoms in men.
Though some research has yielded results in certain male groups, where men experienced a boost of serotonin production through therapy, other studies reveal contradictory results, leaving the question of “can low testosterone cause depression” still unanswered.
In fact, many of us are taught to believe that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, but the actual reasons for why we experience these changes in mood and energy levels are much more complex than that:
Research suggests that depression doesn’t spring from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Rather, there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems. It’s believed that several of these forces interact to bring on depression,” (Harvard Health Publishing).
When we understand what depression is and the many internal/external factors that can contribute to men developing its symptoms, we start to see common characteristics between the two conditions.
Let’s review a few!
Changes in mood or “mood swings” are common signs of low T and are often difficult to control. One moment, you may feel content and the next minute you may feel irritable or emotionally distressed. These types of changes occur for no reason at all and can negatively impact your relationship with others and cause you to feel stressed or unfocused on the task in front of you.
Mood swings are also common among men who experience depression, which causes several periods of high or low moods. Like mood swings caused by Low T, these changes are hard to control and may affect your relationships with others.
Whether or not you’re getting the recommended hours of sleep each night, fatigue is another common symptom of low T and can have a drastic impact on your physical health. Decreased energy levels and loss of motivation can cause you to become inactive, leading to rapid weight gain and decreased self-confidence.
The same can be said about men who experience depression: “Men with depression may feel very tired and lose interest in work, family, or hobbies. They may be more likely to have difficulty sleeping than women who have depression,” (NIMH).
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), stress causes your adrenal glands to produce cortisol—a hormone that is essential to the cardiovascular, circulatory, and male reproduction systems. When our bodies produce “excess” amounts of cortisol, it can affect the following areas:
Libido—creating a disinterest in sex
Sperm production—causing a low count
Possible male anatomy infection(s) to testes, prostate, and/or urethra, if stress affects immune system
Though depression and anxiety are two different conditions, they can occur simultaneously, or as a result of each other. And because excess cortisol, caused by anxiety, can affect the male reproductive system, you may also develop symptoms related to Low T (as demonstrated in the bullets above).
When we look at depression and Low T this way, we can’t help but spot a connection. Just as depression can cause men to experience symptoms of Low T, Low T can cause men to show signs of depression.
Both conditions can disrupt your sleeping patterns, eating habits, and anxiety level and also trigger other symptoms, including weight gain, decreased energy, and irritability.
Low Testosterone and Depression: Breaking the Cycle
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, consulting with a medical provider is the first step to taking control of your mental and physical health.
At EveresT Men’s Health, our dedicated team has more than 20 years combined experience in the diagnosis and treatment of low testosterone. Our services are designed to help you achieve optimal health through testosterone therapy replacement, medical weight loss plans, and other medical treatment services.
Our mission is to help every man realize his best energy and long-term health through proactive healthcare for men. If you’re ready to break the cycle of Low T and start feeling your best, we encourage you to contact one of our men’s health clinics today!