Tens of millions of Americans are treated for depression with a dizzying array of pharmaceutical medications as well as individual and group therapies.
Meantime, researchers and healthcare providers have observed an irrefutable association between the use of antidepressants and low testosterone levels in men (Low-T). Although a cause & effect relationship between antidepressants and testosterone inhibition has not been conclusively demonstrated, physicians with expertise in treating Low-T urge other clinicians to examine the possibility that patients who are treated for depression might benefit from testosterone replacement therapy.
Ideally, a cooperative relationship should exist among healthcare providers, enabling them to benefit from the experience and knowledge of their colleagues in different medical fields, including psychiatry and men’s health optimization.
Is Low T causing depression (or, at the very least contributing to it)?
It is not always possible to definitively answer either part of this question because of the fact that depression and low-T share so many symptoms. For example, shared symptoms of the two conditions include: anxiety, irritability, mood swings, sadness, diminished sex drive, cognitive difficulties such as memory and thinking problems, as well as compromised sleep.
However, numerous studies have revealed that it is likely that diminished testosterone does have a negative impact on emotional health (particularly moods) and in some areas of cognition. Interestingly, patients who undergo androgen deprivation therapy that eliminates testosterone production are told to be aware of possible side effects that include confusion and diminished cognition.
Some healthcare practitioners believe these side effects could be at least partially due to low testosterone levels.
Quick Facts about Depression and Low T
- Clinical studies indicate that older men (55+) who have low testosterone level are particularly vulnerable to clinical depression.
- A 2015 clinical study under the auspices of George Washington University’s Center for Andrology demonstrated that more than 50% of men who had borderline low testosterone levels exhibited significant signs of clinical depression.
- More than one-third of the 200 men who participated in the study were obese and reported that they did not exercise at all.
- According to surveys published in Scientific American magazine in 2016, approximately 1 in 6 Americans take antidepressant medications and other psychiatric drugs, with antidepressants representing the vast majority.
- Regardless of the link between depression and Low T, testosterone replacement therapy will usually help improve mood, which can ameliorate many of the symptoms of clinical depression.
- Clinical depression is described by Mayo Clinic as major depression that is more severe than typical bouts of melancholia. It is distinguished from the ordinary ups and downs of life.