UK Study Casts Doubt on Testosterone Therapy for Depressed Type 2s

A British study of type 2 men reports that although testosterone therapy had a beneficial effect on blood glucose levels and other metabolic indicators for non-depressed men, those suffering from depression experienced no benefit. In fact, reports Geoffrey Hackett, MD, at Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, depressed men actually experienced a worsening of symptoms.

Along with depression, those symptoms include hypogonadism, in which the testes produce either no testosterone or severely reduced quantities. Hypogonadism in men can lead to erectile dysfunction, infertility, decreased bone and muscle mass, gynecomastia (development of breast tissue), and hair loss, as well as decreased sex drive, fatigue, and even menopausal-type hot flashes.

Hackett’s study, which involved 200 type 2 men with hypogonadism, set out to see if treating patients for low testosterone would have any effect on depression. Hackett and his colleagues tracked the patients over a 30-week study, then followed up with half of them for another 52 weeks.

Going into the study, 23 percent of the type 2 men had been diagnosed as depressed. The researchers noted that this group tended to be younger and more obese than the other type 2 patients.

Treatment consisted of 1,000 mg doses of testosterone undecanoate administered at the start of the study and at Weeks 6 and 18. A control group received placebo. Non-depressed participants enjoyed “significantly reduced” A1C levels and weight reduction, but none of the depressed participants saw any improvement in those measures.

According to Hackett, a preliminary conclusion from the study is that type 2 men who are eligible for testosterone therapy should be tested for depression before undergoing a treatment that may not benefit them.

The study was presented at a conference and has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. 


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