Testosterone is a male hormone produced in the testes, one of many glands in the endocrine system.
Because hormones can have any impact on physical but also emotional health, there is a link between low testosterone and depression in men.
Testosterone is known in medical terms as an androgen, or a male sex hormone.
It travels through the bloodstream to numerous body parts where it encourages other cells, tissues, and organs to function properly.
Endogenous testosterone is produced and secreted within the body by the Leydig cells present in the male testes, and the Hypothalamic Pituitary Testicular Axis (HPTA) is one of the required components for this process.
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Hormone production and secretions are, for the most part, controlled by the pituitary gland, otherwise known as the master gland of the body.
The pituitary gland maintains function and sends signals to glands in the hormone system to produce and release them into the body for optimal emotional, mental, and physical health and wellness.
The hormone is mainly responsible for the development of secondary sex male characteristics, and typically begins during adolescence.
Upon adulthood, unless a medical condition affects testosterone levels, most men have an average of 300 to 1000 or so nanograms per deciliter of testosterone in their blood.
It is not just a “sex hormone” responsible for initiating libido, sexual performance, and the ability to obtain and maintain an erection.
It is also responsible for muscle building, strong bone growth, height and is required to manufacture sperm.
How does low T affect emotion or attitude? A number of studies have attempted to determine just that.
An article published in the Journal of Psychiatric practice (“Testosterone and depression: systematic review and meta-analysis“) suggests that replacement therapy may improve attitude and outlook in patients diagnosed with depression.
The conclusion of the study was that therapy provided some improvements on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, especially in patients who had been diagnosed with hypogonadism (low T levels), the elderly, as well as patients diagnosed with HIV or AIDS.
Why do hormones have an impact on emotions? They are important in influencing how we feel. A number of them have this power including:
Numerous glands that make up the endocrine system can have an effect on our perceptions of happiness, contentment, and positive attitudes.
Male and female sex glands (ovaries and testes) have a great influence over hormones that are circulated in the blood and regulate not only mental focus and acuity, but sex drive.
For men, the link between the male hormone and “manliness” or maleness are closely linked.
Low testosterone and depression, especially when sexual libido or capabilities are decreased, are closely linked in causing changes to men’s moods, attitudes, and outlook on general contentment with life.
Androgen levels have a huge impact on a man’s libido, and decreasing hormone levels can not only affect sex drive, but performance ability, and may even contribute to impotence.
However, this attitude may have more to do with mental attitudes and society’s perception of manliness rather than reality.
According to an article in Psychology Today, human sexual desire is more complex than one might think, involving environmental impacts such as stress, psychological makeup or dynamics, and a number of social factors.
In fact, according to one study at Boston University School of Medicine, “The effect of testosterone on mood and well-being in men with erectile dysfunction in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial“) males aged 40 to 70 who used topical hormones did not achieve higher levels of testosterone or an increased sense of well-being.
Decreased testosterone levels can affect men as strongly as low estrogen levels affect women during menopause.
In fact, decreased testosterone doubles in men in their 40s and 50s and beyond and is nicknamed “male menopause”.
The lack of the hormone can trigger many of the same symptoms in men that women feel due to decreases in estrogen hormone production.
Men who find their libido and ability to perform decreasing often struggle with feelings of inadequacy, lack of self-confidence and self-esteem.
Such emotions have a detrimental impact on mentality, and often contributes to depression.
One study noted in the Journal of the American Medical Association publication Psychiatry (“Increased incidence of diagnosed depressive illness in hypogonadism older men.“) determined that men diagnosed with hypogonadism were four times more likely to eventually be diagnosed with clinical depression.
In addition, it is believed that low T levels may have an impact on the chemistry of the brain.
The lower the serotonin levels (the happy hormone), the greater the risk of moodiness, depression, lack of motivation, and general feelings of blasé.
If you believe you are experiencing signs or symptoms of low testosterone and depression, anxiety or bipolar; schedule a visit with your doctor.
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