Depression can make it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, let alone participate in activities you used to love. Many men blame their depression on their life circumstances or even on their own psychological weakness — but depression is not your fault. Rather, some surprising factors may contribute to your very real, debilitating mental illness.
1. Low Serotonin Levels
Serotonin is a chemical that your brain relies on to send messages. It has strong effects on the parts of the brain that regulate sleep, mood, sexual desire, and social behavior. You should not be surprised to learn, then, that low serotonin levels can lead to profound sadness, trouble sleeping, lack of sexual desire, and disinterest in social situations — all of which are associated with depression.
You can take medications to artificially increase your serotonin levels, but in the long run, you might be better off making other lifestyle changes that boost your serotonin levels and therefore help fight depression. Certain dietary changes, like eating more vitamin B6-rich foods, and getting more exercise can help.
2. Low Testosterone Levels
Depression is an often-overlooked symptom of low testosterone, or Low T, in men. Testosterone levels often peak around the age of 30, and after that, they decrease by about one percent per year. Some men, however, experience a more marked decrease in testosterone levels as they age. This leads to an array of symptoms, including:
- Loss of sexual desire
- Decreased bone mass
- Mood swings
- Insomnia and other sleep difficulties
Many of these symptoms can contribute to depression or make it worse. For instance, low testosterone levels may cause you to have trouble sleeping, and a lack of sleep brings about depressive thoughts. Luckily, your doctor can diagnose Low T with a simple blood test, and you have many easy treatment options such as testosterone patches, oral supplements, and injections.
3. Obesity or Weight Gain
Scientists have long known recognized an association between obesity and depression, but they were not sure until recently whether depression led to weight gain or the other way around. Recent research seems to suggest that while depression can cause weight gain, being overweight may actually contribute to depression too.
Stress hormones may be at the heart of the relationship between obesity and depression. When you are stressed out, your body releases a hormone called cortisol, which triggers your body to store fat. High levels of cortisol may also contribute to depression.
Diets consumed by overweight patients are also often full of foods that contribute to inflammation, and inflammation may impact your mood on a hormonal level.
If you are both overweight and depressed, losing weight is a good first step towards improving your mood and your overall health.
4. Sedentary Lifestyle
So many jobs these days are sedentary. You may sit down in your office chair at 8:00 am and barely move until 6:00 pm. Only 21 percent of adults these days get the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week — and that has a profound impact on their mental health. A recent study with more than 110,000 participants found that those who were sedentary were more likely to be depressed.
Luckily, increasing your activity level even moderately can help. Small changes like walking to work, taking walks at lunch time, walking around while taking phone calls, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator can boost your mood. These changes may also help you lose weight, further fighting against depression.
Depression is a very common concern and not one to be taken lightly. Every case is different, but often, one or more of the above factors plays a big role. If you suffer from depression, contact the experts at NuMale Medical Center. Our treatments for hormonal imbalances and our medical weight-loss plans may be just what you need to get back on track.