Depression, Anti-Depressants, and Low Testosterone Levels

Hormone deficiency is common in many middle age and older men.  It is of interest that many men using anti-depressants also are found to have low testosterone levels.

Many people that take antidepressants, specifically SSRI’s (selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors), find out that they have low testosterone.  We are not certain about the mechanism of action of SSRI’s and low T levels but the effect is certainly prevalent.

Many men with depression tend to have lower than average sex drives. It is the depression that is thought to lead to disinterest in pleasurable activities like sex. Men may be so depressed and have a decreased libido, that they don’t feel like having sex.

If your testosterone level were to be lowered, the natural result would be a reduced sex drive. This reduced sex drive could be linked to depression – therefore testosterone could play a role.

Individuals with lower than average levels of testosterone could be experiencing depressive symptoms as a result of their low T. Studies have found that among men with abnormally low levels of T, testosterone therapy helped reduce symptoms of depression.

It is well documented that antidepressants can affect hormones. Therefore some hypothesize that hormonal changes can influence our sex drive. It is not known whether antidepressants are the culprit behind lowering levels of testosterone. Many men that have taken SSRI’s believe that the drugs they took lowered their testosterone.

On average, men tend to naturally experience lower levels of testosterone by the time they reach age 50. By age 60 it is estimated that 1 in 5 men have problems with their testosterone. In cases where men experienced a reduction in their level of testosterone and simultaneously became depressed, increasing testosterone levels can be therapeutic.

In older men, testosterone therapy may prove to yield antidepressant effects. Most medical research demonstrates that testosterone can have positive effects on mood. It seems as though testosterone treatment tends to be most beneficial for men who are experiencing depression as a result of testosterone decline.

Bottom Line:  Many middle age men have been placed on SSRI’s for depression.  This can result in a decrease in the testosterone level.  If you are experiencing a decrease in your libido, have decreased energy, and loss of muscle mass, you may have low T levels.  The diagnosis is easily made with a blood test and treatment consists of testosterone replacement therapy.

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