Men with borderline testosterone levels have higher rates of depression and depressive symptoms than the general population, according to US researchers.
They advised clinicians to be aware of the link in male patients who may potentially be affected, noting that the number of men having their testosterone levels checked has increased dramatically in recent years.
The researchers studied 200 men, aged between 20 and 77, whose testosterone levels were considered borderline – between 200 and 350 nanograms per deciliter.
“Over half of men referred for borderline testosterone levels have depression”
They collected information on the men’s demographics, medical history, medication use, and signs and symptoms of hypogonadism.
They also re-measured the men’s total testosterone and assessed for depression using the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9).
Using a score of 10 or higher on the PHQ-9, the researchers found 56% of the study participants had been diagnosed with depression and were potentially using an antidepressant.
Rates of depressive symptoms were markedly higher than the 15-22% found among a control sample of the general public.
The study population also had a high prevalence of being overweight (39%) and being obese (40%). In addition, other than walking, 51% of the men did not engage in regular exercise.
The most common symptoms reported were erectile dysfunction (78%), low libido (69%) and low energy (52%).
Study author Michael Irwig, associate professor of medicine from George Washington University in Washington DC, said: “We found that men seeking management for borderline testosterone have a very high rate of depression, depressive symptoms, obesity and physical inactivity.
“Clinicians need to be aware of the clinical characteristics of this sample population and manage their comorbidities such as depression and obesity,” he said.
“Appropriate referrals should be made for formal evaluation and treatment of depression,” he added.
The study results were presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Diego.