Too Little Testosterone Can Lead to Depression

MONDAY, Feb. 2 (HealthDayNews) -- Men who have low testosterone levels are more likely to suffer depression, says an article in the February issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Researchers examined the clinical records of 278 men, 45 years or older. Over a two-year period, 21.7 percent of the men with testosterone deficiency (hypogonadism) were diagnosed with depression, compared with 7.1 percent of men with normal testosterone levels.

When they adjusted for age, alcohol use and other factors, the researchers concluded that men with hypogonadism were 4.2 times more likely to be diagnosed with depression.

"Hypgonadal men showed an increased incidence of depressive illness and a shorter time to diagnosis of depression. Further prospective studies are needed to confirm these preliminary findings and to clarify the role of testosterone in the treatment of depressive illness in older men," the study authors write.

Testosterone levels peak in early adulthood and then decline about 1 percent per year after age 40. Hypogonadism occurs in 30 percent of men older than 55. Symptoms include decreased muscle mass and strength, diminished appetite and libido, fatigue and irritability, and decreased bone mineral density.

--Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Feb. 2, 2004

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