A recent study has shown that men with low testosterone (or “low T”) are 50% more likely to suffer from depression.
HCPLive.com reports that information on over 200 men, ages 20 to 77, was evaluated by researchers from George Washington University’s Center for Andrology. These men had testosterone levels between 200 and 350 ng/dl, which is considered lower than average for adult males. The research team noted their demographic information, medical history, and prescribed medications, and then re-checked the patients for signs of low T. In addition, they look at their scores for the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9), which evaluates a patient’s mental health.
The team presented their findings to The Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in San Diego last month: 56% of those surveyed either received a clinical diagnosis of depression, were taking antidepressants, or scored a 10 or above on the PHQ-9. They found that men with low T are much more likely to have depression than the general American population, as well as demographically similar men.
The researchers, however, concluded that the main issue is not so much that men with testosterone deficiency are depressed; it’s that many of them fail to recognize or report the problem. Dozens of men in the study who exhibited depression symptoms, for example, denied feeling depressed when asked directly.
“This study underscores the utility of a validated instrument to screen for depression, especially as some subjects may deny signs and symptoms during the interview,” the team’s report states. “Appropriate referrals should be made for formal evaluation and treatment of depression.”
In addition to depression, many of the men in the study had other medical issues. Forty percent were obese and another 39% were overweight. Seventy-eight percent suffered from erectile dysfunction, 69% from low libido, and 52% from chronic fatigue. Forty-two percent of patients claimed to have problems sleeping.
Tellingly, 51% of the patients stated they do not exercise at all.
The researchers stopped short, however, of recommending that low T patients with depression should seek testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), a popular treatment.
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Past studies offer contradictory evidence regarding TRT’s effect on depression. Some have suggested that TRT can improve a patient’s mood, while others have not found such evidence.
However, several studies have shown that TRT can improve other symptoms of low T,including erectile dysfunction, low libido, and excessive fat.
The researchers didn’t touch upon the effects of TRT itself, although they did claim that their findings provide valuable insight into the relationship between low T and depression, which they also claim has received little attention.
Regardless of depression symptoms, patients with low T are encouraged to seek treatment. Low T can cause a variety of symptoms, including increasing the risk of death in the subsequent 18 years of a patient’s life by as much as 33%.