What Are the Emotional Effects of Low T
How Does Low T Affect You Mentally?
Testosterone is a hormone largely thought to fuel sexual desires. As such, most people often think of diminishing sexual desires and physiological complications, such as erectile dysfunction, as the primary effects of low T. However, the effects of testosterone hormone in the body go beyond stimulating sexual arousal. Testosterone affects many body organs, including the brain and the general state of mind.
Low testosterone levels can cause serious mental health problems in men. Individuals with low testosterone often experience mood swings and fatigue. Below are the emotional effects of low T.
Effects of Low Testosterone on Mood
While testosterone levels start declining naturally with advancing age, some people have lower-than-normal levels. This causes undesirable symptoms, such as erectile dysfunction, weight gain, and more. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize the effects of low testosterone on mood. Some blame mood changes on normal aging and stress.
Testosterone is neuroactive, meaning it affects the functions of the central nervous system. Several studies have linked the neuroactive nature of testosterone to mood changes. Additionally, some animal studies have found that testosterone treatment can improve serotonin production. This means there’s a link between serotonin, or “the happy chemical,” and testosterone.
Several other factors associated with declining testosterone lead to mood changes. For instance, most people gain weight due to low T. Weight gain affects self-confidence, often leading to social anxiety and depression. Other low T symptoms, such as sexual dysfunction and low libido, negatively affect romantic relationships, indirectly causing mood changes.
Low Testosterone Causes Depressive Symptoms
Several studies have linked low testosterone levels with depressive disorders. For instance, low testosterone levels will most likely lead to depressive symptoms in middle-aged men than in men with normal levels. A Toronto study evaluating the link between depression and testosterone levels found that most men with low testosterone levels were depressed.
A similar study concluded that over 56% of referrals with borderline low T levels in Washington had depression. Apart from exhibiting symptoms of depression, these patients also complained of erectile dysfunction and low libido. Researchers suggested that physicians should generally screen men with low testosterone levels for signs of depression.
Additionally, an article in Psychology Today suggested that men with symptoms of depression who have no family history of depression most likely suffer from hypogonadism. These studies suggest a strong correlation between low T levels and depressive symptoms.
Link Between Low T and Stress
Stress also has some intrinsic connection with low T levels. Stress is widely associated with work and family issues, with almost 191,000 men reporting that their stress and depression are caused or worsened by the work environment. However, stress and low mood caused by andropause hit the peak in men aged between 45 and 54 years.
Apart from work, men at this age are struggling with other duties, such as caring for their aging parents, supporting teenage children, and other responsibilities that trigger stress. Stress increases the production of cortisol in the body. High cortisol levels in the body affect other important hormones, such as dopamine, serotonin, and testosterone. Therefore, stress primarily causes hormonal imbalance, which includes low testosterone levels. If left unattended, stress worsens mental health and affects physical health.
Tips for Improving Mood
Mood swings and other emotional issues caused by low T can be addressed through lifestyle changes and medication. Below are a few tips for improving mood and correcting testosterone levels:
- Evaluate your health habits – low testosterone levels are mostly linked with inactivity and obesity. If you are physically inactive and obese, you should work on your testosterone levels and lifestyle habits. Like mental health issues, you should get enough rest and sunlight. Natural sunlight alleviates seasonal mood disorders. You should also reduce the consumption of sugar and carbohydrates in your diet.
- Communicate – if relationship or family issues contribute to stress, depression, and low testosterone, you should communicate clearly. Couples should find new ways of connecting. Counseling and sex therapy can help couples express their needs in an open environment. Testosterone deficiencies affect the ability to get and maintain an erection, making open and honest communication crucial.
- Consider testosterone replacement therapy – while the interventions mentioned above can help, individuals with a significant decline in testosterone levels should consider testosterone replacement therapy. TRT, through injections and pellets, can boost testosterone levels in the body. While this therapy isn’t suitable for everyone, emotional and sexual problems resolve once T levels increase.
The Bottom Line
Testosterone levels in men decline naturally with age. However, some people have abnormally low levels due to genetic, health, or lifestyle habits. Extremely low levels of testosterone hormone cause serious issues, including physical and emotional health issues. Individuals with low libido, erectile dysfunction, and mood changes should suspect low T levels. Your healthcare provider may recommend blood tests and other tests to determine the cause of low testosterone.