Known as the male sex hormone, testosterone has an impact on several different areas of the brain and is responsible for much more than just sex drive. Testosterone imbalances, or an imbalance between testosterone and the other hormones and enzymes that it interacts with, can have both a physical and mental impact on both men and women.
In men, low levels of testosterone can lead to various mental-health related symptoms like fatigue and depression, plus physical changes such as lower muscle mass and a decreased sex drive, which can even lead to self-esteem problems or body dysmorphia. On the other side of things, too-high testosterone levels can also cause issues, such as sleep problems or aggressive and hostile behaviour.
If your mental health is suffering as a result of going through a divorce, keeping your testosterone levels in check can help you feel better. Here are some of the main ways that balanced testosterone helps with your mental health and clarity.
Better Cognitive Abilities:
While results have varied significantly over several years of research, one thing is clear – testosterone definitely plays an important role in memory and other cognitive functions. One study found that testosterone injections can have either a positive or a negative effect on verbal memory. Longer studies reported better results in both women and men.
In 2003, a study of 574 male participants that spanned over five decades examined the correlation between testosterone and Alzheimer’s disease. Following up with the participants found that men who developed Alzheimer’s also had lowtestosterone levels, which occurred before diagnosis.
Although this doesn’t mean that low testosterone levels are a sure sign you’ll develop Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s a good reason to know your body and know which symptoms you should look out for.
Lower Risk of Depression:
The relationships between testosterone and multiple neural networks are quite complex, but testosterone is also closely linked to neural networks that regulate mood. Researchers have long considered the possibility of women being more susceptible to depression than men due to the fact that they have less testosterone. Depression symptoms in women can be caused by imbalances between testosterone and other hormones such as estradiol, but it’s more complicated than simply having high or low testosterone levels.
At the University of Florida, a study examined the protective factors of testosterone against anxiety and depression. They discovered that by interacting with a specific enzyme, most of the testosterone in the brain is converted to estrogen. Issues with this enzyme can cause symptoms of both depression and anxiety in men, as it prevents the conversion from taking place.
It’s not uncommon for men to suffer with a loss of self-esteem after going through a divorce. But testosterone levels can also play a part. They have a significant effect on a range of physical attributes such as muscle mass, body hair, and sexual performance. Although these things might not be directly linked to your mental health, the fact is that many people who are dissatisfied with their appearance or performance can start to develop a poor relationship with themselves and their bodies, leading to lower levels of self-esteem.
Suffering from low self-esteem causes negative feelings towards yourself and your appearance, like anger or sadness. It can also lead to serious body image issues, such as body dysmorphia. This occurs when somebody’s perception of their own body and what it looks like is not realistic and is more negative than it actually is. In some cases, this can lead to people going to extreme lengths in order to ‘fix’ what they think is wrong and deal with their body image issues. In fact, the National Eating Disorders Association says that one-third of people suffering with eating disorders are men and boys.
Improve Your Sleep:
Sleep is crucial for a huge range of both physical and neurological processes such as memory retention, digestion, and being able to emotionally cope. When you’re suffering from a lack of sleep, or your sleep isn’t very restful, you can end up being far more affected than usual by small stressors and irritating things that normally wouldn’t really bother you that much. This can leave you feeling completely wiped out and overwhelmingly irritated with even the most minor inconveniences. Sleep deprivation can lead to hostile feelings and even lashing out. And, it can lead to issues with digestion and metabolic function, causing weight gain – which is already a common symptom of testosterone imbalances.
According to the Harvard Health Blog, insomnia isn’t usually a problem for men who are dealing with low levels of testosterone; it’s commonly seen in men who have higher-than-usual levels. The effects of insomnia on the body can make already occurring symptoms of testosterone imbalance worse.
Calmer and More Reasonable:
Increased aggression, hypervigilance and irritability are some of the more commonly known side effects of high testosterone levels in men. Studies have conflicting results; some suggest that the changes are minor while others report significant increases in hostility and anger. The effects of having high testosterone levels can often lead to relationship conflict and a dysfunctional family and work life. High testosterone can cause bursts of aggression and a constant state of being too alert, which can result in marital issues, affect relationships in the workplace and cause strife between friends and other family members.
How to Balance Testosterone Levels Naturally:
If you suspect, or have been told, that you are dealing with low levels of testosterone, there are many things that you can do to rebalance the levels of this hormone naturally and minimize its effect on your mental and physical health. These include:
Exercise – Particularly Weight Training:
Exercise is proven to be one of the best ways to combat many lifestyle-related diseases, and it can also boost your testosterone levels. Studies have found that people who participate in regular physical activity had higher levels of testosterone. And, research conducted with men who classified as heavily overweight or obese found that increasing exercise was more beneficial for increasing testosterone levels compared with a weight loss diet. Resistance and weight training are the best types of exercise for boosting testosterone.
The foods that you eat play a huge part when it comes to your hormones, including testosterone. Studies have found that continuous dieting or overeating can cause a testosterone imbalance, so it’s important to pay attention to a long-term diet strategy. Eating plenty of protein aids with fat loss, which is associated with testosterone, and carbs can help to optimize testosterone levels in men who are weight training. Certain popular seasonings on your food can also help. Bioperineincreases testosterone; this substance is found in black pepper. You can find out more about the health benefits of Bioperineand why you should consider adding more black pepper to your foods at Testogen.
Long-term stress can lead to abnormally high levels of the hormone cortisol, which can quickly reduce testosterone. When one of these hormones goes up, the other comes down. And, stress can also lead to an increased appetite, weight gain and harmful fat storage around your organs, which can, in turn, lead to a negative impact on testosterone levels. A healthy diet, good sleep, regular exercise, and relaxation techniques can help you reduce stress and improve your testosterone levels.
Vitamin D is one of the most popular vitamins around the world and with various health benefits, it’s easy to see why. Research has also suggested that it may work as a natural way to boost testosterone. To boost testosterone and take advantage of all the other health benefits of vitamin D, you should try to get more regular exposure to sunlight or take a vitamin D3 supplement daily.
Natural Ways to Lower Testosterone Levels:
If you are suffering from symptoms commonly associated with high testosterone or have been told by your doctor that your testosterone levels are high, there are also some things that you can do to naturally balance these hormones and bring your levels down to normal. Consuming more of the following food products in your diet may help.
There is some research to suggest that eating soy products such as soy milk, miso, tofu, and edamame can lead to decreased testosterone levels. Soy is also high in phytoestrogens; plant-based substances that mimic the effects of estrogen in the body by altering hormone levels, which has the potential to reduce testosterone.
Commonly used to sweeten beverages and some candies, licorice root is a popular holistic, natural remedy and has been used to treat many issues from a persistent cough to chronic pain. Recently, there have been several studies that suggest licorice can influence hormone levels, which may lead to decreasing testosterone levels over time.
Nuts are packed with many essential nutrients, includingheart-healthy fats, fiber and many minerals such as magnesium and folic acid. Some studies suggest that certain types of nuts, including almonds and walnuts, may decrease testosterone levels.
The effects of high or low testosterone levels on your mental health can be huge. If you’re suffering with poor mental health after going through a divorce, taking steps to balance your testosterone levels may help you feel better.