Does having a low mood, in addition to low testosterone, mean you're depressed? Not always, but there's a connection you should be aware of.

Your testosterone level drops off naturally as you get older. For instance, if you're between ages 40 and 80, you have about a 30% chance of having low T. At the same time, your risk for depression increases as you get older.

One study followed 748 men older than age 50 to see who would develop depression. The men with low T were about twice as likely to become depressed as were men with normal testosterone levels.

In fact, several studies have suggested that men's chances of developing depression go up as their testosterone level goes down. The exact cause isn’t clear. But there's evidence that low T may change your brain chemicals in a way that causes depression.

Recognizing Symptoms of Depression

You need to take depression seriously. That's true whether or not you have low T. Let your health care provider know if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Low mood that doesn't go away

  • Feeling hopeless or worthless

  • Loss of interest in people and activities

  • Trouble thinking clearly

  • Changes in sleep or appetite

  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Can Testosterone Therapy Treat Depression?

If you have low T plus symptoms of depression and other low T symptoms, your health care provider might suggest testosterone therapy. If this works to improve your low T symptoms, your mood may improve simply because you feel better. However, major depression may not get better. Most studies show that testosterone alone is not a reliable treatment for major depression. Back in the 1940s, testosterone injections were sometimes tried as depression treatment. Today, antidepressants are a much better choice.

On the other hand, if you have low T and depression, and antidepressants aren't helping, adding testosterone therapy may help. This can be especially true if you're having trouble getting an erection or being interested in sex while taking an antidepressant. This can be a side effect of the medicine. About 20% of men have sexual problems because they're taking an antidepressant. Combining an antidepressant with testosterone therapy may improve sexual function.

Key Takeaways

  • There is a strong link between depression and low T.

  • As you get older, your risk for low T and depression increases.

  • Treating low T may lift your mood because you have more energy and feel better.

  • Treating major depression usually means taking an antidepressant. Adding testosterone may help if you have low T.

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