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Can Low Testosterone Cause Anxiety & Depression (Explained)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Last updated: December 2, 2022

During my years as a fitness trainer, I have had countless conversations with male and female clients about low testosterone levels and how much it affects them mentally and physically.

Some report depression and anxiety and question if it is directly related to their low T-levels.

I have a pretty solid grasp of the answer, but to verify it and build upon it, I examined as many medical studies as I could find on the subject and consulted a medical colleague, so I could write this quick read about the link between low testosterone and anxiety and depression.

Quick Summary

  • Many people don’t understand the sweeping effects of low testosterone on the entire body, from weight gain and muscle loss to mood swings and symptoms of depression.
  • Some low T and depression symptoms are the same, but a few differences will help you pinpoint which could be the culprit.
  • Testosterone plays a role in levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.
Emotional individual holding himself together

The link between low testosterone and depression may be because testosterone is a neuroactive hormone affecting your central nervous system functions, establishing a direct connection to behavior and mood [1].

Additional research shows that testosterone can directly modulate serotonin production; higher testosterone equates to higher serotonin concentrations, and low testosterone means lower serotonin [2].

Serotonin is key to many body functions, including sleep, mood, wound healing, bone health, and sexual desire, and is often referred to as the body’s “feel good” chemical.

Normal levels will create happiness, calmness, and emotional stability, while low levels may lead to depression [3].

Another study of middle-aged men diagnosed with depression shows those men have low levels of bioavailable testosterone, further establishing a link between the two [4].

General Signs of Low T and Depression

Man wearing bonnet holding his head alone in a room

The effects of low testosterone can make a person emotional.

However, low T and depression share many psychological symptoms [5].

Including:

  • Irritability
  • Mood changes
  • Low libido
  • Fatigue
  • Weight fluctuations
  • Lack of motivation
  • Social withdrawal
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness

Let’s break a few of those down.

1. Weight Gain

Weight gain can create a slippery slope; researchers found a direct link between low dopamine levels and obesity.

Being overweight can lower testosterone, and low testosterone can negatively impact dopamine levels [6].

This connection puts individuals at an increased risk of depression and other symptoms.

2. Low Sex Drive

Low testosterone can impact interest in sex, and so can major depressive disorder and is just another example of symptoms that overlap between low T, anxiety, and depression.

Though testosterone is the primary male hormone, women produce some, and low T in women can cause low sex drive and symptoms of depression as well [7].

3. Infertility

Covering a male crotch

Infertility cannot directly be a symptom or a result of depression, but it can sometimes exacerbate the symptoms of depression.

Hormonal imbalance in both men and women can lead to infertility, and struggling to conceive can compound the problem of stress, anxiety, and depression.

Depression is a mental illness that affects every aspect of your life, including testosterone levels, fertility, relationships, and physical health.

“People with hypogonadism, or low testosterone, will often say they have no energy, no desire for sexual activity and that they noticed a decrease in muscle mass.”

- Lawrence Hakim, MD

There are, however, specific physical manifestations that point directly to low T and are generally not associated with depression.

They include:

  • Decrease in muscle mass
  • Increase in breast tissue
  • Decrease in muscle tone
  • Loss of strength
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Erectile dysfunction

Ways to Help Reduce Symptoms

Stretching in a room with a partner

There are a few things you can do to reduce symptoms and boost lower testosterone levels.

Let’s take a look.

1. Choosing a Healthy Lifestyle

Diet and exercise are critical in treating low testosterone.

Research suggests that exercise improves testosterone levels, though there can be many variables like how low testosterone levels have dropped, age, and weight [8].

Additionally, exercise is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and weightlifting are excellent exercises to recover lower-than-normal hormone levels.

Diet can impact T levels, and some foods may boost testosterone [9].

They include:

  • Ginger
  • Oysters
  • Pomegranate
  • Fortified plant milk
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Fatty fish and fish oil
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Onions

Avoiding processed foods is key to a healthy lifestyle and boosting testosterone levels.

2. Exploring treatment options

Having a checkup with a doctor

Speaking with your doctor about a treatment plan for depression, anxiety, and low testosterone is always advisable.

Research suggests hormone replacement therapy is an excellent treatment option for depressive symptoms.

One meta-analysis shows that men in middle age with less severe depression who received testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) treatment showed clinically significant reductions in symptoms [10].

3. Using Natural Testosterone Boosters

Natural testosterone boosters blend all-natural ingredients, like herbal extracts and nutrients, that are well-researched to prove their efficacy in supporting hormone balance.

These supplements are a great way to recoup testosterone levels and improve self-confidence, sexual dysfunction, body composition, and potential symptoms of depression caused by low T.

FAQs

How Does Low T Affect Mood?

Along with its impact on serotonin, animal studies show testosterone also plays a vital role in the signaling pathways of dopamine, the neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for feelings of pleasure.

Does Boosting Testosterone Levels Help With Anxiety?

Boosting testosterone levels can help with anxiety. In fact, researchers find that testosterone replacement therapy in hypogonadal men significantly improves anxiety symptoms [11].

Does TRT Help With Depression?

TRT can help with depression and anxiety, which are common symptoms of low testosterone in both men and women.

Testosterone therapy can get individuals back to normal testosterone levels, relieving symptoms like depression.

Can Low Testosterone Lead to Mental Health Disorders?

Low testosterone can lead to mental health disorders like anxiety and depression, possibly by decreasing the amount of serotonin in the brain.

Is Low Testosterone Causing Your Depression?

Evidence supports a bi-directional link between low testosterone and depression and one that affects both men and women.

The silver lining is that treating low testosterone can significantly improve mood, including anxiety and depression symptoms.

An all-natural testosterone booster with proven ingredients to support healthy hormone levels is a significant first step and one I strongly urge you to try.

We have tested countless T boosters to come up with these lists, so finding the most effective and safe ones is just a click away.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12510009/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5581316/
  3. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22572-serotonin
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16908107/
  5. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/low-testosterone-and-mental-health/
  6. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/02/010205075129.htm
  7. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/low-sex-drive-could-it-be-a-sign-of-depression
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7739287/
  9. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323759
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6583468/
  11. https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp.157.11.1884
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