Can Low Testosterone Cause Depression? Is There A Link? 


Testosterone is commonly associated with sex drive and muscle mass in men, but this key hormone has wider effects on physical and mental health. In particular, some emerging research suggests a link between low testosterone (low T) and depression.

Relationship Between Low Testosterone And Depression

While women also require balanced testosterone levels, this hormone is found in higher amounts naturally in men. When production decreases, hypogonadism or testosterone deficiency can occur and potentially impact mood regulation.

Low Testosterone And Depression

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll examine the connections between testosterone and depression found in studies, the multifaceted relationship, treatment options, and frequently asked questions on how low testosterone may contribute to depressive disorders in men.

Understanding Testosterone And Depression

Testosterone is considered a major sex hormone in men produced mainly by the testes. It plays a pivotal role in:

➔  Sex drive and function

➔  Muscle and bone mass

➔  Fat metabolism

➔  Production of red blood cells

➔  Cognitive abilities

➔  Mood regulation

When testosterone levels dip, it can lead to declines in these areas of health. Clinical depression also corresponds with dropping testosterone, particularly in middle-aged and older men.

Researchers are still working to untangle the complex interrelationship between testosterone, aging, and depression. Some key points have emerged:

➔ Men with depression often have lower testosterone levels.

➔ Men with hypogonadism are at increased risk for developing depressive disorders.

➔ Resolving low T can lift depression symptoms, either partially or completely.

➔ Testosterone replacement therapy often improves mood in hypogonadal men.

➔ Optimal testosterone may be protective against men developing depression later in life.

This suggests testosterone does play a role in men’s mental health. Let’s look closer at the hormone and mood link.

The Interplay Between Hormones And Mood

Scientists theorize there are several potential mechanisms by which low testosterone could contribute to depression:

  • Hypothalamic-pituitary effects – Low testosterone signals may dysregulate mood-influencing hormones like oxytocin.
  • Stress system imbalance – Low T disrupts the HPA axis including cortisol response.
  • Inflammation – Testosterone has anti-inflammatory effects throughout the body and brain.
  • FatigueTestosterone increases energy, muscle strength, and motivation.
  • Brain chemistry – Testosterone modulates neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
  • Brain circuits – Testosterone may have protective effects on emotion-regulating regions of the brain.
  • Anxiety – Testosterone boosts confidence and eases anxiety which can worsen depression.
  • Self-esteem – Low T can lower self-esteem related to virility and physical changes.

Research into the mechanisms continues, but it’s clear testosterone and depression have a multidirectional relationship.

Research Studies on Testosterone and Depression

Numerous studies demonstrate links between low testosterone and depression:

  • A 2013 meta-analysis of 28 studies concluded that late-onset hypogonadism increases risk of depression.
  • A 2016 review found middle-aged men with depression tend to have clinically low testosterone levels.
  • A 2021 study reported significantly lower testosterone in men over 45 with depression compared to non-depressed controls.
  • Another 2021 study found young men with treatment-resistant depression had markedly lower testosterone.
  • Multiple clinical trials indicate testosterone therapy improves mood scores in hypogonadal men with depression.
  • One study showed testosterone gel specifically improved depression symptoms compared to placebo.

Overall, research indicates testosterone deficiency either precedes or coincides with depression in men. However optimal levels may also protect mental health.

Treatment Approaches And Interventions

If low testosterone is contributing to depressive episodes, there are treatment options available:

  • Testosterone replacement – Testosterone patches, gels, pellets, or injections can raise levels. Effects on mood may be apparent in 3-6 weeks.
  • Antidepressants – SSRIs may particularly help if anxiety or low self-esteem accompany depressive symptoms.
  • Exercise – Points to resistance training to boost testosterone along with mood-lifting endorphins.
  • Healthy diet – Emphasize foods that support testosterone and brain health like shellfish, vitamin D, zinc and magnesium.
  • Stress management – Lower cortisol and balance hormones through breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation.
  • Quality sleep – Optimize nightly sleep to 7-9 hours to support hormone restoration.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – Help change thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to depressive episodes.
  • Regular screening – Monitor testosterone levels as you age and treat low T accordingly.

A combined approach focused on testosterone optimization alongside psychological and lifestyle interventions may be most effective. Work closely with your doctor to determine the best options.


While more research is still needed, evidence shows a strong link between lower testosterone levels and depression in men spanning younger through older ages. Raising low testosterone appears to alleviate depression in many hypogonadal men.

However, the relationship is complex with many contributing factors. Collaborating with your medical providers to measure testosterone and tailor appropriate treatments can help target hormone imbalance as a potential biological driver of depressive disorders in men.


1. What are the most common symptoms of low testosterone in men?

Common symptoms include low energy, reduced sex drive, erectile dysfunction, decreased muscle mass, weight gain, low mood, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.

2. Does testosterone replacement therapy completely cure depression?

It improves depressive symptoms in many cases, but testosterone alone may not fully resolve depression without other treatments like therapy and antidepressants.

3. Can low testosterone cause anxiety too?

Yes, low T is linked to higher anxiety levels, likely due to effects on brain chemistry, confidence, and energy levels. Optimizing testosterone often reduces anxiet

4. Do testosterone levels drop gradually with normal aging?

Testosterone slowly declines about 1% per year after age 30. More significant drops could indicate a hypogonadism disorder requiring treatment.

5. Should older men be screened routinely for low testosterone?

Many experts recommend men over 50 get tested periodically due to increased prevalence of age-related testosterone deficiency. Consult your doctor.

Related: Does Ashwagandha Increase Testosterone? Unlock The Secrets

Robert McNally is a dedicated and knowledgeable health professional committed to helping others achieve their weight loss goals and lead healthier, happier lives. With a strong educational background in nutrition and health sciences, Robert possesses the skills and expertise required to guide clients on their wellness journeys.

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