Your testosterone levels are important for a number of reasons. This male hormone – also called an androgen – contributes to your body’s normal functions.
Testosterone plays a major role during puberty. It impacts body hair growth, muscle building and the deepening of the voice. But there’s more. Testosterone also contributes towards sex drive, bone density, body fat distribution and sperm production.
Although it’s a male-orientated hormone, testosterone is present in women at a much lower level. Low testosterone and depression have long been linked, alongside a number of other physical and emotional symptoms.
Understanding low testosterone
Also known as hypogonadism, low T levels can occur for a number of reasons. Primary hypogonadism is an issue associated with the tested – the organ producing testosterone.
Those who have had a testicular injury may experience primary hypogonadism, and this can be caused by:
- Cancer treatments
- Higher than usual iron levels
Secondary hypogonadism, however, is down to your pituitary gland. This occurs when the gland doesn’t receive triggers to produce testosterone. This can be caused by:
- Normal ageing
- Using opioid medications
Signs of low testosterone
There are a variety of symptoms related to low testosterone. These can quickly impact your life physically and emotionally.
One of the first symptoms many men notice is a dent in their sex drive and ability to perform. It’s not uncommon, or unusual, for men with low testosterone to notice a nosedive in their libido. This may also include difficulty in getting or maintaining a hard on. Or in some cases, infertility.
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As we already mentioned, testosterone is important for bone and muscle strength. When your T levels dip, you may notice a loss of muscle and bone mass, as well as weight gain. These effects can impact more than your hard on, increasing your risk of diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis.
Low testosterone and depression
It’s common for men with low testosterone to experience depression, anxiety, irritability and other mood changes. Although some medical experts aren’t sure what causes this overlap. However, testosterone therapy has been shown to boost the mood of men with low testosterone – particularly older men.
Does low testosterone cause depression?
Due to the overlap in symptoms between low T and depression, diagnosing accurately can be difficult. Plus, to make things a little more confusing – anxiety and depression can be considered a normal sign of ageing.
Symptoms of both low testosterone and depression include:
- Low libido
- Troubles sleeping
- Memory issues
- Trouble concentrating
Although the emotional problems between low testosterone and anxiety or depression are similar, physical symptoms differ. The question does low testosterone cause anxiety is a common one. The impact of low T may result in a decline in your mental health when these essential levels aren’t where they need to be.
Due to the impact of low T on sexual function, it comes as no surprise that low testosterone and anxiety is a common experience. The anxiety of sexual performance alone can impact many men.
People with depression with normal hormone levels typically do not experience breast swelling or a loss of muscle mass and strength. These are usually symptoms associated with low T.
If you, or someone close to you feels down, irritable or not themselves, it’s worth making an appointment with a doctor. A quick exam and blood tests can help you to uncover whether your testosterone levels are normal, or if there may be another problem.
Treatment for low testosterone
One option for treating low testosterone is hormone replacement therapy. This form of synthetic T is available in several variations. One of the most common choices for many men is injections, skin patches and a topical gel absorbed through the skin.
If you’re not sure which route to take, it’s best to discuss these options with a medical professional who can advise according to your lifestyle, health and even health insurance coverage.
Support for men with low T
It comes as no surprise that low testosterone can affect a man’s confidence and physical health. Trouble sleeping, memory issues and difficulty concentrating associated with low testosterone may be contributing factors.
Once you’ve found the treatment for you, the physical elements of low T may be resolved. However, some psychological symptoms may remain. Thankfully, there’s treatment here as well.
To help ease anxiety and insomnia, breathing exercises and meditation are commonly recommended. By taking the time to focus on your breathing, you can begin to empty your mind of anxious and negative thoughts.
Don’t feel afraid to talk about low T and depression or anxiety, or the physical effects of low testosterone. If you’re unsure about speaking to a close friend or partner right away, consider jotting down your thoughts and feelings in a notebook first.
It’s important to remember that low T affects every man differently. Something worth remembering is that you’re not alone in your experience. Low testosterone is also very common. If you are struggling with the psychological side effects of low T, it may be worth seeking the help of a therapist. They may recommend cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help overcome these problems.
If you’re living with someone who has low T, or a friend or family member is suffering from low testosterone – show support by being patient and understanding of their feelings.