How Low Testosterone Affects Social Anxiety

On: July 8, 2019
low testosterone, mental health

Testosterone, an anabolic steroid, and the chief male sex hormone, is an essential component in both the female and male bodies. It is produced in men’s testicles and female’s ovaries, although it is produced in small amounts in the adrenaline glands.

Naturally, men produce higher levels of testosterone than women.

Research shows that testosterone plays a huge role in the behavioral characteristics of men. These characteristics include risk-taking and aggression, thus, bringing the correlation between testosterone and anxiety.

Testosterone production increases during puberty in men due to the role that the hormone plays in the transition to adulthood. Nevertheless, most men start experiencing a slow decline in testosterone levels after reaching the age of 20.

Unless the levels are extremely low, there is nothing to worry about. After 30 years of age, the levels are expected to fall at a rate of close to 1% annually.

Below is all you need to understand testosterone and anxiety.

Role Of Testosterone

Testosterone is pivotal in the transition from adolescence to adulthood and thus is involved in the changes and processes that occur in the male body. These include:

  •    Governing body fat distribution
  •    The deepening of voices
  •    Production of sperm
  •    Regulation of libido
  •    Production of body hair
  •    Regulation of mood
  •    Energy production
  •    Creation of blood cells
  •    Cognitive function
  •    Development of bone tissue
  •    The building of muscle mass

People with low testosterone will have a hard time losing weight and also building muscles. Testosterone has also been linked with the cognitive functions leading to the anxiety and testosterone relation.

Understanding Low Testosterone (Low-T)

Low Testosterone or hypogonadism (the medical term for Low-T) occurs when the levels of this hormone in the body drop below the recommended amounts.

Men are expected to have testosterone levels of between 300-1000 ng/dl.

Causes of Low Testosterone in Men

Low testosterone may be a result of the following:

  •    Diseases like hypothalamus or pituitary glands that affect organs which produce testosterone, therefore, can lead to low testosterone.
  •    Damaging the testes which may be from radiation, accident, surgery, or chemotherapy.
  •    Medical conditions that include down syndrome, obesity, Klinefelter syndrome, drug abuse and alcoholism, sickle cell, opiate pain medication use or abuse, type II diabetes, and hemochromatosis.
  •    Environmental factors include exposure to pesticides and herbicides, parabens, as well as stress and depression.

Symptoms of Low Testosterone

The symptoms of low testosterone are directly related to the roles it has in the body. If you suffer from low testosterone, some bodily processes will be hindered, leading to the following:

  •    Fatigue especially during the day
  •    Weak muscles and bone structure
  •    Weight issues
  •    Mood swings, depression
  •    Less care on well-being
  •    Reduced libido (sex drive_
  •    Sexual dysfunction (erectile dysfunction)
  •    Reduced concentration levels
  •    Low energy levels
  •    Body hair loss.
  •    Memory loss

Low Testosterone Treatment

Testosterone replacement therapy is used to treat men with abnormally low testosterone. This treatment involves the prescription of medication that is given through different means. These include:

  •    Testosterone gels: to be applied on clean, dry skin. There some that are applied inside the nose
  •    Injections and implants: Injecting testosterone directly into muscles or having pellets implanted under the skin.
  •    Mouth patch
  •    Skin patch

Benefits Of Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Testosterone replacement therapy helps bring the testosterone levels back to normal, and thus, people with low-T will experience:

  •    Improved mood
  •    Improved cognitive abilities
  •    Improved sex drive (libido)
  •    Better muscle mass and bone strength
  •    Loss of fat

This treatment, on the other hand, may have some side effects, and thus, regular checkups are required during the process.

You should also make sure the necessary authority approves the medication, for example, FDA in the US. The side effects may include skin irritation, oily skin, or breast enlargement.

Hormones and social anxiety disorder 

Excess or fewer hormone levels affect neurotransmitters causing issues like heightened anxiety.

The three types of hormones that affect social anxiety include sex hormones, stress hormones, and thyroid hormones.

Our focus is on testosterone, which is a sex hormone.

The Connection between Testosterone and Anxiety

Have you noticed that anxiety increases when one experiences hormonal changes in the body?

For instance, anxiety peaks during puberty, and in women, it increases during the menstrual cycle and puberty. For men, less amount of testosterone increases anxiety.

Additionally, this essential hormone partially controls the release of cortisol, and therefore, when there is low testosterone, there are high chances of cortisol increasing.

Generally, anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that affects many people worldwide. Everyone gets anxious, but some people experience it at a higher frequency than others.

So, how does testosterone contribute to anxiety?

Testosterone anxiety relationship is still a matter being studied, and different outcomes have been made so far.

To further understand this topic, let us first understand what social anxiety disorder is.

Definition of Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is where people fear being judged negatively by other people.

People with this disorder tend to feel inferior, humiliated, depressed, and embarrassed. Day to day social interactions may be awkward for people with this disorder.

It is the third largest psychological disorder in the United States. Moreover, it is estimated that about 7% of the United States of America suffer from a form of social anxiety.

Difference between Healthy Individuals and those with Social Anxiety Disorder 

Social anxiety patients have less testosterone in their bodies when compared to healthy individuals.

They tend to avoid social gatherings, unlike those with an adequate supply of this hormone, which facilitates socialization due to its anxiety-suppressing effect.

How Does Testosterone Reduce Social Anxiety? 

In contrast, the same way low testosterone increases social anxiety, increasing the level of testosterone can aid in reducing this condition.

When testosterone is administered, social anxiety behaviors such as being fearful, submissive, and avoidant are reduced. How is this so?

Testosterone and Eye Contact in relation to Social Anxiety Disorder 

According to research, hormone therapy can help in the treatment of social anxiety. People with social anxiety feel awkward when making eye contact.

Radboud University’s scientists established that testosterone reduces the tendency of individuals with social anxiety disease to avoid the stare of others. The 2016 study showed that when a person suffering from social anxiety took testosterone, they found it easier to handle eye contact.

As we all know, eye contact a vital part of social interaction since it is an essential nonverbal tool and indicates social comfort.

Testosterone and Cognition

Other than aiding in primary and sexual characteristics development during puberty, testosterone drives aggression as earlier mentioned, as well as sexual arousal in maturity. It also controls mood and sexuality in females.

Notably, this hormone is essential in areas of the brain, which react to perceived social threats as well as emotional stimuli in some people.

Also, it is the main reason why men and women behave differently.

Testosterone also plays a big part in behavior and having a good mood; thus, it can help boost positive behavior that helps a person in social interaction.

Based on brain scans, testosterone is actively present in the brain and is vital in aspects of cognition and mood. It also enhances the activity of serotonin and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which are brain chemicals that result in social anxiety disorder.

Furthermore, testosterone also regulates the activity of the amygdala, the brain structure related to fear.

Additionally, this hormone minimizes amygdala’s activity. Simply put, the amygdala is a brain structure associated with fear and triggers the fight-or-flight response.

Therefore, when testosterone is increased, it implies that one is working with amygdala hence response like a healthy person without the social anxiety disorder.

Testosterone and Self-esteem

Nothing conclusive on whether testosterone can be directly used to treat social anxiety has been established yet, but studies are still ongoing. Additionally, testosterone supplements have not been recommended as a treatment for social anxiety.

However, research has established that this hormone makes one feel dominant, temporarily. This, therefore, boosts one’s behavior in social places.

We all understand that when one is confident, they can easily socialize with others.

Testosterone and Mental Illness 

Studies have also shown that men with low testosterone are more likely to suffer from a form of mental illness that may include depression and anxiety.

However, testosterone role in the brain cannot be overlooked. In mental health, having a good mood is a major factor, and testosterone helps with this.

Ways of Boosting Testosterone Levels in the Body to Avoid Social Disorder Anxiety 

Now that you understand the importance and benefits of adequate testosterone levels about social anxiety, you may be interested in knowing how to increase the levels of this essential hormone so that you can be as healthy as other individuals.

Natural Ways of Boosting Testosterone

Before resolving to testosterone supplements and therapy, you can try to boost the levels of this hormone naturally.

The main ways of doing this are through diet and exercise. Note that losing weight is essential, and this can be achieved through both dieting and working out.

Raising Testosterone through Diet 

Constant dieting and overeating can affect your testosterone levels. Some foods increase this essential hormone in the body, including:

  • Diet rich in protein, carbohydrates, and fat, for example, eggs and oatmeal.
  • Consuming adequate protein aids in maintaining healthy testosterone levels as well as the loss of fat that is related to body testosterone.
  • Carbohydrates, on the other hand, assist in testosterone level optimization when undertaking resistance training.
  • Lastly, if healthy fats are taken adequately, they help enhance testosterone levels.

Reducing Cortisol and Stress Levels

Typically, when testosterone levels shoot, cortisol hormone goes down, and the converse is true.

Long term stress heightens hormone cortisol levels, and unnaturally increasing cortisol speedily reduces the level of testosterone in the body. When one is stressed, they tend to take more food, which may result in weight gain.

Unhealthy body fat will be stored in the body, negatively impacting on the level of testosterone.

Reduce stress by taking whole meals, exercising regularly, sleeping well, and enjoying a balanced way of life to attain optimum testosterone levels in your body.

Exercises to Boost Testosterone

Doing resistance exercise to increase muscle mass. For instance, weight lifting is known to increase testosterone in both the short and long run.

High-intensity interval training is also known to be very effective in boosting testosterone levels.

Note that other physical training methods are effective, but the above are the most effective.

Vitamin D and Testosterone

You can bask in the sun or take supplements that will give you Vitamin D. It has been established that this essential vitamin naturally boosts testosterone levels in the body.

In a one year study whereby about 3,000 IU of Vitamin D3 was supplemented daily, it was found that there was an increase in testosterone levels by 25%.

Other vitamins and mineral supplements such as Vitamin B and zinc also boost the levels of this hormone.

Natural Testosterone Boosters 

These include herbs such as ashwagandha, ginger extracts, Mucuna pruriens, Tongkat ali, and shilajit.

Testosterone Replacement Therapy  

This is another option of enhancing your testosterone levels in the body.

Note that before undergoing this therapy, ensure that you discuss with your doctor so that you can understand the benefits and risks involved.

Testosterone and Anxiety

Anxiety testosterone is a connection that is still under study, and there is no definite conclusion. Low testosterone anxiety is another field still being investigated, and more outcomes may be determined in the future.

All in all, it is a fact that testosterone is more than just a sex hormone, and its role in both male and female body cannot be underrated. The impact it has on the cognitive function and general body health cannot be overlooked.

Besides, the correlation between testosterone and anxiety may be a key ingredient in finding future treatment methods for mental health disorders like depression and anxiety.

Make sure that the next time you visit your doctor, your testosterone levels are checked and continue doing it regularly so that you can avoid social anxiety disorder.

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