Shirley’s Mental Health Blog – February 2021

Check out our Mental Health Blog for February 2021.

It’s been a really hard start to the year and I’m sure many of us are dealing with lots of difficult situations and emotions at the moment.

I wanted to share the every mind matters NHS website with you here. You will find lots of helpful resources and advice, if you are struggling with your mental health during the pandemic.

MIND promoted the ‘Time to Change’ time to talk day which took place on February 4th this year. As a time to change champion myself I would like to take this opportunity to invite others to become champions and raise awareness of the importance of just having conversations about mental health, and how by doing this we help end the stigma associated with Mental health.

This year Time to change focused on The Power of Small:

A small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference.

We know that the more conversations we have, the more myths we can bust and barriers we can break down, helping to end the isolation, shame and worthlessness that too many of us with mental health problems are made to feel.

Time to Talk Day is the day that we get the nation talking about mental health. This year’s event looked a little different, but at times like this, open conversations about mental health are more important than ever. Here’s a link to a video that we made on Time to Talk Day.

I read a really interesting article recently by Anne Williams on ‘Understanding the Male Menopause’. The female menopause is very well documented, and as a female of a certain age myself I have personally experienced the full range of symptoms associated with this.  I was really surprised to learn that men can go through similar experiences with changes in their hormones, and like women it can have an impact on their mental health.

Anne has very kindly offered to write a shortened version for the blog:

How does testosterone affect mental health?

Of all the hormones which play a part in maintaining the functions of our bodies and brains, testosterone is the one which has a certain set of stereotypes attached to it. Testosterone is associated with masculinity, sexual performance, lust, aggression and even violence. It’s associated with road rage, or the angry dad on the side-lines at kids’ football. Many of these stereotypes are unhelpful, however, and there is scientific debate over how much testosterone really does affect people’s personalities and levels of aggression.

What the research does show, however, is that low testosterone levels are frequently associated with poor mental health – from low mood, to anxiety and depression. Let’s take a look at some of the findings.

Five questions and answers on how testosterone can affect mental health

  1. Could testosterone affect my mood?

A clear link has been shown between depressive symptoms and testosterone. Increasing testosterone levels may have a positive impact on depression.

  1. Could testosterone impact my anxiety levels?

Research suggests that anxiety levels are sensitive to testosterone. Increasing testosterone has been shown to decrease anxiety.

  1. Is testosterone only associated with mental health in men?

Testosterone is essential for the physical and mental wellbeing of both men and women, and low dose testosterone has been shown to improve functioning in women with a diagnosed sexual disorder.

Other studies have shown that testosterone can improve fatigue and depressive symptoms in women.

  1. Is testosterone linked to conditions such as schizophrenia?

Testosterone may be linked to schizophrenia and the cognitive function of men with a diagnosis of the condition (according to Moore et al, Neuroscience Research Australia).

  1. Could testosterone treatment boost my memory?

Numerous clinical studies of older women and men have shown improvements in learning and memory after taking testosterone supplements.

Testosterone has even shown a positive effect on spatial and verbal memory in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

In summary, it’s clear that testosterone has a complex role to play in mental health. Studies are increasingly concluding that testosterone levels have a direct impact on mood, anxiety, cognition and other specific mental health conditions.

The impact of low testosterone can have secondary effects too. Those with low libido levels may suffer relationship problems and self-esteem issues. This can lead to depression and increased anxiety. Self-image may also be linked to testosterone levels in men. If males do not feel “macho” enough to fit into perceived societal norms, this can impact on feelings of self-worth. In turn, this can result in depression and anxiety.

Sadly, it’s common for men’s testosterone levels to decrease by 1% every year after the age of 40. Sometimes this decline can be more pronounced, however, resulting in a greater chance of poor mental health. Those with significantly low levels of testosterone, either male or female, may be advised to undergo testosterone treatment – and this can have a positive impact on mental health, too. It’s important to stress, however, that you should always talk to your doctor about this first.

At a time in which scientists believe we may have reached a plateau in what we can achieve using typical interventions such as antidepressants, testosterone could play an important role in how we treat mental health conditions in the future.

If you would like to read the full article you can find it here.

– Thank you so much to Anne for contributing to our monthly blog!

Personally, I look forward to the snowdrops and the daffodils breaking through the icy ground – this signals to me that the dark grey days and long dark nights will soon be over, and we will soon be able to spend more time outdoors, even if it is in our gardens.

As always, if you would like to contribute to the blog, I would be really pleased to hear from you, in the meantime stay safe and take care.