Can Testosterone Be Used to Treat Depression?

When my partner casually mentioned to me the other night that he’d heard of instances where testosterone has been used, successfully, to treat depression, my ears perked up.

Depression is a pretty sneaky demon. Did you know: scientists haven’t actually yet nailed down why people get depressed.

I’ve always been one to believe that depression is multi-causational. I’m not of the opinion that any one thing causes depression. I’ve come to think of it like this: depression is really just your body’s way of screaming “SOMETHING IS WRONG!”

What if for some people that ‘thing’ happens to be low testosterone?

Once you realize how low testosterone can effect a person, you realize how reasonable an idea this idea really is. In fact, one of the main symptoms of of low testosterone is depressed mood, and some other symptoms that could look like, well, depression.

 

Take a look:

Symptoms of (1)

 

What I was really interested in finding after our conversation was some anecdotal evidence. That’s when I came across this article by Jon Nelson documenting his journey with depression, which (spoiler alert) lead him to begin taking testosterone illegally to treat it. And guess what? It’s worked for him.

Anecdotal evidence aside, where is the science at? One study on middle aged men, with similar depression and testosterone levels, showed that between a control and treatment group, the treatment group showed significant improvement in their depressive symptoms.

Another meta-analysis aimed to compile evidence from controlled clinical trials to analyze the effect that introducing testosterone to the body could have on mood. The meta-analysis concluded that exogenous testosterone helped improve symptoms of depression in men, especially so when the depression was mild but long lasting, rather than severe and acute.

Evidence on this subject is really lacking for women – possibly because introducing testosterone into a women’s body can have more potentially life-altering side effects. It could also be because the subject of low testosterone being a potential player in depression is still a new subject. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Now, I’m not advocating by any means that any of you should begin taking testosterone, legally or illegally, to treat your depression. However, this is another really valid avenue to explore with your doctor if you’ve been struggling with depression and have yet to find answers.

You deserve those answers – exhaust all options – and as always, advocate for yourself!

outro

Why are you Depressed? 

Like many other things in mental health, depression is multifaceted – there are many signs, symptoms, explanations, and origins behind depression. It cannot be explained simply. It can’t be encompassed simply, and it shouldn’t be treated simply.

So why are you depressed? A lot of the stigma that still has a stronghold on mental health reiterates the narrative that people who struggle with depression are just “mentally weak”. Another common misconception is that it only affects the “have-nots” of society, that is, those of lower economic status. (because what could people with money possibly be sad about?)

What’s interesting is that as a society we still haven’t full acknowledged and absorbed just how prevalent depression is. It’s simply not talked about. Well, let’s put a little dent in that today shall we, and talk about it.

So, what is it? Are depressed people weak? Ungrateful? Poor? Messed up? Under difficult circumstances? Negative? Let’s unravel it a little.

There is no one factor that has been indicated in “causing” depression, in fact, there are several things that could be linked between you and your depression.

For example:

  • Food intolerances or allergies
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Traumatizing experiences/ Grief/ Difficult life circumstances
  • Neurotransmitter malfunctions
  • Hormones

Any single factor or combination thereof could be contributing to your depression. I realize this is a small, albiet generalized list – but the point I’m trying to drive home is that there are any number of reasons why you might be depressed.  

This is why I have such an issue with the fact that we treat depression in such a blanketed way: by suggesting antidepressants to treat depression – for everyone. First and foremost: did you know studies have never definitively found a link between serotonin and depression? Yet SSRI’s , which increase serotonin in the body, are the most often prescribed antidepressant.

So, in essence, people with depression are encouraged to take a drug that has not actually been scientifically supported to work. Some studies do say that SSRI’s do show small improvements in some people; other studies chalk that up to a placebo affect.

I know some people personally who take SSRI’s for depression, and they really feel that these drugs work for them. I can’t argue with another person’s experience. And without definitive answers, it is plausible that these drugs could very well improve symptoms for some. I am not anti-drug , I’m just pro-whatever works. What I worry about treating depression with such a “one-size-fits-all” approach is that people might ignore the other factors that could be contributing.

For example, did you know that depression is a symptom of low testosterone in men? Or that hypothyroidism can look like depression? Or that low dopamine correlates with a decrease in motivation, which is a symptom of depression? Or that untreated food allergies and sensitivities can lead to chronic inflammation, leading to fatigue and a host of other symptoms, all of which could contribute to depression? Or that magnesium deficiency has been linked to depression?

Some depression is also circumstantial, you can be optimally healthy and still struggle with depression (you can also be rich and depressed – myth busted). 

So why are you depressed? If you’re not sure, I encourage you to dig deeper. Emotionally and physically. Get whatever test you need to get done. Get in tune with your body. Talk to your doctor, spiritual adviser, your chiropractor, and figure out what’s getting you. And as always, advocate for yourself.

Lord knows – I’m not saying it’s easy. Having had my own mental health struggles for over ten years, I know it takes a lot of work – sometimes years – to get to a good place. All I want for you is to channel that energy into productive ways of figuring it out – when you’re feeling up to it.

Any comments or questions? Please leave them down below, I would be interested to hear about your experience with depression!

 

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Chasing the High 

It’s okay; we’re all doing it.

You know, looking for that feeling. The rush, the euphoria – that feeling… like you’re invincible. Chasing the high.

So how do you chase yours?

Many people turn to alcohol to chase the feeling. Other’s indulge in various types of drugs. Some even get that high off of manipulating and hurting people.

Some people can’t live a day without the high, for others it’s a slow brew of discomfort until they chase it like they are going to explode if they don’t catch it.

In my younger years, in an effort to obtain that feeling of being truly alive I would drink. It was the only way that I felt I could let go. And so I chased my high in various clubs and bars and friends of friends houses until constantly trying to get that high brought me, ultimately, to a low.

Then, I found weight lifting, and was introduced to a whole new kind of high. Endorphins rushing, heart racing, and the exhilaration of trying something new. Eventually, the high became simply a part of the feeling of having accomplished something. Every time I reached a new goal, my soul expanded with joy.

I have also felt this feeling doing the following activities:

Falling in love.

Travelling.

Laughing so hard, I cry.

Going on an adventure.

 

What do you do to chase it?

Is Gluten Making You Moody? 

I decided to give up gluten last year during my elimination diet to figure out what was making me so sick. Turns out, it was dairy. But just for a second, let me turn this car around.

Because guess what? Even though I didn’t feel the same severity of effects with gluten, it never made me feel good. I’ve always felt heavy and anxious after a high gluten meal.

When I expressed this, I was met with some criticism.

I blame that on the fact that going gluten-free has become a huge trend over the last couple of years. Perhaps I appeared was simply ‘paranoid’, or maybe it looked like I was jumping on the bandwagon.

But just ask my boyfriend: it’s real. And sometimes my reaction is so severe I can be reduced to tears, only hours after eating gluten, with no explanation why. I just know I feel upset and that my gut doesn’t feel right.

Also I want to ask: isn’t it possible that this is a trend for a reason? Are some people not noticing that they simply feel better without it? And I’m not talking about celiacs, who absolutely and undisputed have a allergy to it.

Anyways, gluten never made me feel right. So forget what people are saying; what does science have to say?

Well, science has a name for my experience: Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. NCGS has been studied in relation to some psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and autism, as well as irritable bowel syndrome. NCGS is not uncommon, but it is more frequently self-diagnosed, as there is no standardized test for gluten sensitivity. Self-diagnosis is usually determined through an elimination diet.

But truth be told, I couldn’t find much regarding the relationship between any other disorders, aside from the aforementioned. Another study I found tried to link gluten sensitivity to depressive disorders, but simply concluded that although promising more studies were needed to support this theory.

So perhaps the science just isn’t there yet. As for my own personal opinion, I’m going for my gut with this one: gluten just doesn’t sit well with me.

What about you guys? Can you tolerate gluten, or does it make you moody?

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Feeling SAD?

I look outside today and all I see is a blanket of white fluff covering everything in sight. But this is Calgary, what else could I expect? You see, in my eyes, we really only have two seasons: summer and winter. That’s because in the spring, it typically snows, and fall only lasts about 3 days.

It gets dark here for a while. We call it cozy, because that’s how we imagine ourselves – warm by a fireplace drinking hot tea while the flakes dance around outside.

The reality is much less alluring. We all still have jobs and responsibilities. So as much as we want to stay safe and comforted, we have to go about our business just as we would any other time of year.

Only it’s darker. And colder.

Whether you have any mental struggles or not, you can be affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is defined as “depression associated with late autumn and winter and thought to be caused by a lack of light”. 

Essentially, the lack of sunlight changes your emotional state. And if you live here in Alberta you would know it’s no joke. In my circle we call it “that time of the year” because we all start feeling down again.

If you’re feeling SAD, read below for some easy, natural options for helping reduce your symptoms.

  • Get outside. Yes! Put on your snow pants, mittens and a hat. Make a snowman. Build a fort. Bring out the hot coco and go for a walk with a friend. Whatever will encourage you to get outside, do it. This will encourage you to absorb whatever sunlight you can and take advantage of natures amazing healing powers.
  • Avoid the drive through. I know that this weather makes us all lethargic and tired, but do yourself a favor and show yourself some love by creating a beautiful meal made especially for you. Plus, crappy food could make a bad situation worse, as consumption of fast food has been linked to depression.
  • Exercise. Anything that you can do to increase endorphins can brighten your spirit. Get moving by yourself, or if you need a little encouragement invite a friend.
  • Eat yourself happy. This article  gives specific food suggestions to help you increase calcium, chromium, folate, iron, magnesium, zinc, vitamin D, and omega 3’s – all of which have been proven to up your mood.

 

And if all else fails and you’re still feeling blue, I would encourage you to reach out and talk to someone – whether that’s your doctor, or a friend, or a family member.

Thanks for reading!

Mental Struggles : Blessing or Curse?

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this on my blog before, but I volunteer for a crisis line.

I essentially listen to and support people who are having a difficult time, whatever that may mean for them.

Over the past ten months, I have had the honor of hearing the stories of people from all walks of life. In that time, I have also spoken with people dealing with a wide range of mental health issues.

The resiliency of people never ceases to amaze me; the art of continuing on. It’s deep and it’s primal and above all that, it’s moving.

Every time I talk with someone struggling with their own mental health issues, what stands out to me is their strength, and their capacity for empathy. They understand things that not everyone can. They ‘get’ that their issues may not be “big”, but they are “big” to them, it’s the way their mind works, their struggles are and always will be different.

For example:

If you don’t have mental health issues, maybe taking an exam you aren’t prepared for is considered difficult.

If you have anxiety, maybe simply being in a room writing an exam with too many people is considered difficult.

If you have depression, maybe you never made it to the exam. Maybe you never made it to class to learn the information to take the exam; maybe the idea of getting out of bed because  you were too damn depressed is considered difficult.

If you have bipolar disorder, maybe you had an episode of psychosis and now you are too embarrassed to ever return to school and it’s just too damn difficult.

Nobody’s problems are greater or less than anyone else’s, they matter because it matters to you. It’s difficult for you. Never let anyone invalidate you.

Because here’s the thing: you can only truly understand what the struggle is like if you’ve been through it. If you don’t have my anxiety, you don’t get my anxiety. You don’t lay awake in bed at night unable to sleep thinking about what’s going to photograph well on the top of your picture of tomorrow’s sweet potato lunch, you just don’t, but I do. Why? Well my whole future is riding on it of course! That’s anxiety for you.

It’s dumb, I know that. But it’s as real as it comes to me.

 

That’s the curse. It’s the feeling alone. It’s being judged. It’s knowing you are misunderstood. It’s fucking torture.

But if you let it, that stupid, piece-of-shit ongoing struggle you have with yourself can also be your blessing, because you have the ability to connect with others in a unique way. Your gift is in understanding, and being able to provide genuine empathy.

I love talking to other anxious people on the line. I get them. If someone is struggling because their toaster didn’t toast their toast properly and it’s ruining their entire afternoon, I get that.

Some way, some how, life lead me here.

Sometimes I wonder to myself what I would be doing in life today if I never had anxiety. Maybe something great. I honestly believe that nothing would have held me back.

But that’s not what happened, this is who I am. Anxiety is my blessing and my curse. I can only hope to find some meaning in the work that I do, I can only hope to effect change in a way that matters. I’m here now trying to help people, I hope it’s good enough.

If I never do anything “great” with my life that’s okay. I always only hoped to do something meaningful with my… gift.

Thank you for reading, you wonderful readers. I appreciate you.

20 Things You Can Do to Cope (the Healthy Way)

Hey you guys! I hope everyone had a wonderful week.

But just so you know, this post is more so for those who didn’t have such a wonderful week. I’m talking about the strugglers; the bad-day-ers, the self-sabotagers.

Sometimes when we’re hurting we want to escape, and we all have different vices. Some drink, some get high, some overeat, and some self-harm. But when you get down to it, these are all just the strategies we habitually run to when we want a way out of feeling the way that we do.

It takes a while to realize that these activities actually don’t make us feel better; they bury our pain. And it’s temporary. It will rise to the surface again, and the cycle will repeat itself until we learn to actually deal with our feelings in a healthy and constructive way.

 

 

Today, I’m making a list of all the things you can do besides engaging in any unhealthy coping activities. I suggest trying at least 5 – 10 in any given situation, because hey sometimes one just isn’t quite enough.

  1. Call a friend
  2. Get outside
  3. Hug an animal
  4. Watch funny videos on Youtube
  5. Organize your closet
  6. Cocoon yourself in a blanket
  7. Tell someone you love them
  8. Light some candles
  9. Yoga
  10. Watch a cartoon
  11. Deep breaths in and out
  12. Go for a workout
  13. SING AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS
  14. Take a nap
  15. Look in the mirror and say ” I love you “
  16. Look up travel pictures
  17. Draw/ Color a picture
  18. Find support for what you’re going through (counselor/friend/support group)
  19. Take a bath
  20. Dance (whether someone is watching or not)

I know these seem like simple things, and that’s because they are. Who wants complicated in the heat of a difficult moment? I hope you’ll consider some of these options the next time you’re in a bind!

Keep your head up, strong babes!

“Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it”