Testosterone Replacement and Improving Mood
Medical professionals and researchers have known for a while now that men (and women!) with low testosterone can suffer from depression and other mood disorders. We have also seen how testosterone replacement therapy can improve those moods. But up until recently, we weren’t really sure why.
Now, new research seems to have found the connection between testosterone and mood. It seems that testosterone influences the production, release, and particularly the absorption of serotonin, one of the brains so-called “feel good” chemicals.
A recent study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry by a group of researchers from Vienna, concluded that that testosterone appears to increase the number of proteins that transport serotonin into the brain. These proteins, known as serotonin reuptake transporters or SERTs, are what allow serotonin to get into brain cells. By increasing SERTs in the blood stream, testosterone allows the brain cells to absorb more serotonin, and therefore make us feel “happier.”
The Vienna researchers looked at a transgender population undergoing sexual reassignment. Those transitioning from female to male, therefore experiencing an increase in testosterone, saw a significant increase in SERT binding sites. Those going male to female, on the other hand, saw a decrease in SERT expression.
The team of researchers believes that establishing this apparent link between testosterone and serotonin reuptake, offers insight into not only why and how testosterone optimization improves mood, but also why statistically, depression occurs more often in women than men, and more often in elderly males than their younger counter parts.
Testosterone, Depression, and Antidepressants
The Vienna research would also seem to verify something that has been speculated about in the past. The belief that testosterone supplementation can make the most common form of antidepressants – Selective Serotine Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs – more effective. In fact, most people prescribed SSRIs are found to have low testosterone. This is one of those areas of correlation, but not necessarily causation, or a kind of chicken and the egg scenario. We cannot really say if people prescribed SSRIs had low testosterone to begin with, which caused their depression, or if taking the SSRIs led to decreased testosterone. But we do know that depression and mood swings are a sign of low T, and now that we may know why, lends greater support for supplemental testosterone to be used in conjunction with antidepressants, or even as an antidepressant.
As far back as the 1940s, it was proven that depression in men could be relieved by injecting testosterone into those with lower than normal levels of testosterone. Much more recently, in the early 2000s, Harvard researcher Harrison Pope demonstrated how testosterone patches improved the moods of men with depression and low-T who were not being helped by antidepressants or other treatments. Certainly more research is needed in this area.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy
If you are depressed or moody, low testosterone could be the cause, particularly if you are experiencing some of the other symptoms of low-T such as fatigue, weight gain, and sexual wellness issues.
But the only way to truly determine if you have low testosterone, is to have yourself tested by a trusted physician. Particularly if you have been prescribed an antidepressant, it is a very good idea to get your testosterone level checked. If you are found to have low testosterone, it could very well be the root cause of your depression, or your depression could be causing your levels of testosterone to drop in a kind of vicious cycle.
Either way, increasing your testosterone levels, through testosterone optimization therapies, could increase the release and uptake of serotonin as suggested by the Vienna researchers, which could be just the boost you need to get yourself back to being your best!
Have you or anyone you know tried any testosterone replacement or other hormone optimization therapies? What were the results?
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