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4 October 2004
Testosterone Level Has Little Effect On Mood
by George Atkinson

Artificially-induced reductions in testosterone levels in healthy young men had little effect on mood or depressive symptoms, says an article in the The Archives of General Psychiatry. Levels of androgens (male hormones such as testosterone) decrease with age in men, sometimes leading to hypogonadism, a condition characterized by decreased testicular functioning. Hypogonadism can have negative effects on bone metabolism, muscle mass, mood and behavior. Some studies have shown that the administration of androgens causes mood changes in men but no studies have examined the relationship between mood and acute suppression of testosterone.

In this new study, Peter J. Schmidt, of the National Institute of Mental Health, and colleagues studied the effects of medication-induced hypogonadism in healthy men by administering leuprolide acetate (a drug that lowers testosterone levels). Then, in addition to leuprolide, participants received testosterone enanthate (a testosterone replacement drug) or placebo every two weeks for one month. The researchers found that the men taking leuprolide plus placebo had significantly lower blood levels of testosterone than men taking leuprolide plus testosterone, and blood levels of testosterone were higher during testosterone replacement than before beginning the study. With the exception of hot flushes, libido and feeling emotionally charged, there were no significant differences in symptoms between the leuprolide plus placebo and the leuprolide plus testosterone groups.

"Few subjects in this study developed negative mood symptoms during an otherwise dramatic albeit brief withdrawal and replacement of testosterone under double-blind conditions," said the researchers. "These data, the first to describe the effects on mood of induced hypogonadism in healthy young men, suggest that short-term hypogonadism is sufficient to precipitate depressive symptoms in only a small minority of younger men."

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