A research study appearing in a recent edition of Biological Psychiatry strengthens the link between testosterone and depression. Testosterone is primarily thought of as the sex hormone in men, which is its primary function. But research is showing how the presence of the hormone also can work to combat depression.
It has been known for some time, through research, that women suffer more often with depression than do men. Women are actually two times more likely than men to develop the mood-related condition.
However, men with low levels of testosterone also tend to be more vulnerable to the condition. When these men are given testosterone therapy however, their mood shows measurable improvements.
Scientists at Florida State University (FSU) conducted research to try and find out how testosterone works to affect a person’s mood and improve their outlook. The scientists conducted batteries of experiments using neutered male rats.
As the rats displayed behavioral symptoms of depression, the rats were treated with testosterone and the symptoms were reversed. Among other findings, the scientists were able to identify a pathway within the brain’s region that is responsible for memory and reaction to stress (the hippocampus). They believe this may hold the answer to testosterone’s affect on depression.
Testosterone therapy that improved mood in the rats worked in an entirely different way than do current anti-depressants which largely work to boost neuron production. Understanding how this hippocampus pathway mediates testosterone could potentially be useful in designing new anti-depression therapies.