I have had a couple of comments from people that this site is too depressing and that I should lighten the subject matter. Clearly I have chosen to ignore that advice as I kick off the first of many articles that I will write about low T and the link to depression.
I used to suffer from low T, but I didn’t know that at the time. I also used to have a real problem with seasonal allergies, which I knew about all too well. Every year, as soon as spring hit I would be sneezing and sniffing for a couple of months, and none of the OTC meds seemed to help in any way.
Anyway – so here’s what happened.
I’m a man, so I hate going to the doctor and will do anything to avoid it, but finally my allergies were so bad that I figured I would try to get him to prescribe me something stronger to combat them. While he was writing the prescription, I also happened to mention to him that I had been feeling a bit down for a couple months, and that I figured my allergies were contributing to it. Not ‘head in the oven’ suicidal, just not that great, you know?
The look on his face changed – feeling down? Are you having trouble sleeping (yes)? Less interested in your job (yes, I spend 8 hours a day doing meaningless tasks for assholes, it sucks)? Trouble concentrating (sorry, what was the question again)?
Next he pulls out a short questionnaire and asks me to fill it in. I noticed that the questionnaire had the name of a drug company written on it, which should have been a red flag, but I filled it in as best I could.
The questionnaire was one of the standard depression tests that the drug companies produce to figure out if you need to take their drugs – what is known as the ‘PHQ-9 Assessment’. You can try it for yourself at http://www.webmd.com/hw-popup/risk-of-depression.
Try playing around with your answers for fun, just to see what it tells you. I’m betting that for most 40 year old guys with a desk job that they don’t like, mild insomnia and a crappy diet, this thing would at least put you at borderline depressed. Just for fun, it’s worth googling the symptoms of low testosterone and then looking at the test again. Do you see the connection here?
Anyway, long story short, I walked out of the office with both my seasonal allergy prescription and a prescription for Paxil. Worst f@!&ing doctor ever, right? No attempt was made to look for underlying physiological issues like a low T level, or even thyroid function. The subject was never even approached.
Anyway, even longer story short, after six months or weird buzzing noises in my head, even worse insomnia, a complete loss of interest in everything I cared about and almost no sex, I came off the anti-depressant. I was really lucky too – coming off for me was a breeze. Check out http://www.paxilprogress.org/forums/ to see 260,000 posts about how hard it is to come off this stuff, and just how many problems people have had with it (do not sue me please GlaxoSmithKline – just presenting my opinion here).
Over the next few depression related articles, I will present the scientific evidence of the link between depression and testosterone levels, and I will talk about my experience when I discovered the link between feeling ‘generally sub-optimal’ and my T level.
I’ll also talk about why it is so rare for men to have their T levels checked. First of course, they are men – so they will avoid going to the doctor. Second, the drug companies can’t make as much money from treating low T as they can from ‘treating’ depression. Synthetic testosterone has been around since 1935 – it’s hard to make money from since the only patents that a company can get now are on the delivery method (for example, putting it in gel form). On the other hand, a single anti-depressant drug can make over $3.5 billion a year.
The drug companies control medicine in the US, and they are not here to help you, they are here to create value for their shareholders. That’s just capitalism – if you don’t like it, move to North Korea.