Testosterone is crucial to a man’s life and mental health. It affects more than just libido. Having low levels of testosterone prevents men from building muscle mass, can cause an increase in weight gain, and can possibly lead to depression or anxiety.
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is the hormone and main fuel behind puberty for men, which brings about the development of muscles, sperm production, pubic and facial hair and a deeper voice. And as such, it’s also what enables man to have a desire for sex.
In adult males, the normal range of testosterone is between 270 and 1070ng/dl. Testosterone levels peak when a man is in his 20s. By the age of 40, testosterone levels decline by roughly 1% per year. A gradual decline in testosterone is a normal part of ageing, but can still leave men feeling less energetic and less focused. There are diseases and certain medications that can also hugely influence testosterone levels such as testicular cancer, radiation treatments, and thyroid diseases.
Testosterone and mental health
The connection between low testosterone and low libido is common knowledge. Yet there is a great debate among scientists as to whether low levels of testosterone can cause depression.
Some studies have shown that men with lower levels of testosterone are more likely to suffer from depression. Other studies have shown that there is no relationship between low T and a low mood. An earlier analysis showed that testosterone was a “moderate antidepressant” compared with the placebo, but that higher doses might be necessary.
Despite there being no conclusive scientific proof as to whether low levels of testosterone can directly impact mood, many men report feeling like something has been taken away from them when they are testosterone deficient. They feel like they have no energy or motivation. It impacts their intimate life, their ability to build muscles and can make them put on weight. Whether these symptoms can then cause depression, or whether low T itself causes depression is unknown.
Health care professionals do not recommend men with depression and anxiety to simply receive testosterone treatment. It’s not going to work for all men. But there are certain types of men who will benefit from testosterone therapy. It is important to get testosterone levels checked and analyzed by a doctor before undergoing any type of hormone replacement therapy. It will also largely depend on your medical history and medications you are taking.
Treating low testosterone
For those men who do suffer from abnormally low levels of testosterone, there are many treatments available which can provide effective relief.
Injections are a common treatment and are administered between every two to ten weeks. They’re quite painful but are one of the least expensive options.
Patches, gels and testosterone creams are easier to use. They allow testosterone to be directly absorbed into the blood stream. Some men might develop skin irritations as a result, and men who use them need to be careful not to let kids or their partner come into direct contact with it.
There are also 12-hour tablets that are chewed between the gums and lower lip. Yet these can taste very bitter and can irritate your gums.
Under the skin implants are now available too. They work continuously for around six months. There is a risk of infection or bleeding, though it’s not so common.
While choosing the right treatment is an important decision to make, men need to be aware that getting fit is also essential. According to scientists, the more body fat men have, the faster they will burn through testosterone. Regular exercise and eating the right foods is essential in keeping weight down and feeling happier and more energetic.
Men with depression or anxiety will likely benefit from some kind of testosterone treatment if they have lower than normal levels of testosterone. Not every man with depression will benefit as it largely depends on hormone levels and medical history.
The best thing you can do is consult with your medical practitioner who will go through your history and symptoms, and recommend the best treatment for your situation. If you think testosterone treatment will benefit your mental health, go ahead and ask your practitioner. You deserve it.