When you think of testosterone, you likely think of sexual function, libido, and muscle mass — things that define men in many ways. What you may not realize is that testosterone also plays a role in your mental health, which can be made abundantly clear when your levels are low.
At our Houston practice, Dr. Robert J. Cornell is a leading urologist who specializes in men’s health. As such, Dr. Cornell understands better than most the incredibly widespread effect that low testosterone levels can have on your health — both mental and physical.
Here’s a look at how low testosterone (low T) can directly and indirectly affect your mental and emotional health.
Your testosterone hormones are mainly produced by your testicles, which means they play a significant role in your reproductive health. Your libido and sexual function rely on testosterone to function properly, so when levels dip, your sexual health can be greatly affected.
But these tiny little chemical messengers play a far bigger role in your body, regulating everything from lean muscle mass to hair growth. In fact, testosterone is considered the “male” hormone, fueling your more male characteristics.
But one area that isn’t as readily obvious is the effect that testosterone has in your brain and on your mental health.
The first thing to understand about the relationship between testosterone and your mental health is the fact that the cells in your brain are equipped with testosterone receptors. When you have lower-than-normal testosterone levels, these receptors are, quite literally, left high and dry, which can lead to:
In fact, many of these symptoms fall under what’s called “andropause,” which is the male equivalent of menopause in women. While women experience a precipitous drop in their female hormones as they pass through menopause, the decline in testosterone among men is typically far more gradual. If you have low T, however, the effect may be more acute, and it can happen at any age.
The result when it comes to your mental health can be as life-altering as the physical effects of low T. For example, if you’re experiencing depression that resists medications, the problem may lie in low testosterone levels. As well, if you’re unaccountably irritable or stressed with no obvious reason for the mood changes, it’s worth exploring with Dr. Cornell to see if low T may be to blame.
While the effects of low T can have a direct effect on your brain, your mental and emotional health can also be indirectly influenced by waning hormones.
For example, if low T is wreaking havoc on your sexual health, causing a loss of sexual desire or erectile dysfunction, this can lead to anxiety and stress. As well, low T can affect how you sleep, which can then create further problems with moodiness out of sheer fatigue.
In order to get to the bottom of your altered mental health, we encourage you to have us test your testosterone levels to see if they play a role. To get started, simply contact us at 281-607-5300 or book your appointment online.