Does Testosterone Make You Angry?
While someone may associate testosterone as a male sex hormone, each person has some natural testosterone that circulates throughout their body performing several important functions. Beyond this biological source, a person can also take testosterone supplements or undergo testosterone replacement therapy for various purposes. One common association that people tend to make is between testosterone and anger. Many people want to know the answer to the question, “Does testosterone make you angry?” This may be an important question to consider, especially if you are thinking about increasing your testosterone levels or need to for medical reasons. This article will discuss the physiological action of this hormone, the associated benefits, and help answer the question of whether testosterone can be related to anger.
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone - a natural substance present in the body that acts as a chemical messenger. Hormones can regulate many processes in the body by stimulating certain cells or tissues. Accordingly, testosterone is responsible for the stimulation and regulation of several processes in the human body, such as sexual development and reproduction.
Testosterone is produced naturally in the body in the testis or testicle (male sex organ) and the ovary (female sex organ). A small amount of testosterone is also produced in the adrenal glands. Testosterone production is controlled by the hypothalamus and subsequently the pituitary gland. A message is sent to the testes, ovaries, or adrenal glands by the pituitary gland to secrete testosterone. In males, testosterone is the main sex hormone responsible for sex differentiation and development in utero and during puberty.
Primary sexual development (i.e., testicular descent, sperm production, enlargement of the penis and testes) is initiated by testosterone. Other major functions of testosterone include the stimulation of skeletal muscle growth, vocal changes and deepening male hair growth patterning, and growth spurts during puberty. Another function of testosterone in the human body is to stimulate erythropoiesis, or the production of red blood cells.
What are the benefits of natural testosterone?
Testosterone can be important for many aspects of one’s health, especially for people assigned male at birth. In these individuals, it helps the sex organs develop during the prenatal phase. Then, at puberty, it helps with the development of secondary sexual characteristics, such as a deepening voice or the growth of hair on the face and body.
Later in life, testosterone can have additional benefits. Having adequate testosterone can influence someone’s sex drive. It can also help with healthy fat distribution as well as muscle mass and strength. Further, it contributes to the production of red blood cells and has been linked to healthy bone mass.
The testosterone levels of individuals assigned male at birth can also diminish as they age. This drop in levels can cause erectile dysfunction, decreased sex drive, and a low sperm count. The effects of low testosterone for these individuals may also include:
- Enlarged breasts
- Loss of body hair
- Increased fat
- Muscle loss
- Mood swings
- Low energy
- Shrinking testicles
- Skin changes
- High cholesterol
- Decreased urine flow
- Metabolic disease
- Cardiovascular disease
- Reduced mental function
That last item on the list might surprise you if you thought testosterone causes anger. However, when your hormones are out of balance, feelings like anger may become more intense. Whether your testosterone level is too high or too low, it can impact your emotional health.
Why would you want more testosterone?
If you have low testosterone, you may experience some of the above effects. Depending on what your healthcare provider’s advisement, additional testosterone may be a healthy option for you. You can increase testosterone levels by taking supplements, having testosterone replacement therapy, or by changing your lifestyle habits.
However, not everyone who wants more testosterone has low levels of the hormone. Some people use anabolic steroids to boost their testosterone levels. In these cases, they may increase their levels above what is needed for several reasons, such as to build muscle mass or improve physicality. However, there may be risks involved to testosterone steroid use, including:
- Raises blood pressure
- Increases risk for liver disease
- Causes aggressive behavior
- Increases risk for skin infections
- Causes erythrocytosis (high red blood cell count)
How testosterone affects mood
Although testosterone has been linked with aggression and anger for a long time, researchers do not agree that this connection exists. Other factors may be at play, including genetics and the endocrine system, as well as cultural norms.
As a hormone, testosterone can affect mood, but the mood effects of this hormone can be difficult to assess. One of the barriers with studies on testosterone and behavior is that studies that find no correlation may be less likely to be published. However, so far, there's no clear evidence that having more testosterone makes you any angrier than having normal levels of it.
In fact, people experiencing challenges related to mood changes may be more likely to have low, rather than high, testosterone. When people who have low testosterone receive testosterone therapy, they may benefit greatly. Not only can it help them physically, but it also tends to relieve depression and anxiety.
In one scientific review, scientists reported that both anxiety and depression decreased for individuals assigned male at birth with low testosterone when they received testosterone therapy. Thus, testosterone therapy may help normalize your mood when your testosterone level has been too low. As there is yet to be a conclusive connection between testosterone and anger, more research is needed to understand how testosterone or lack of it affects mood fully.
Do expectations play a part?
Your expectations may have a bearing on whether testosterone has anything to do with your anger. That is, if you believe that testosterone does make you angry, you may be more inclined to allow yourself to feel and express that emotion. You may believe your anger is because of your gender or because you are taking testosterone supplements.
Gender stereotypes can play a part, too. Although individuals assigned female at birth do have testosterone, individuals assigned male at birth have a greater amount. With biased social expectations that men express more aggression and anger than women, the easy assumption might be that testosterone is what's causing these individuals to be angry. Is this true? The difference here could be attributed to socialization—who is socialized to hide their anger, versus who is encouraged throughout their lives to express it openly?
Methods of increasing testosterone levels
When a person is managing low testosterone levels, they may be advised to increase their levels using androgen steroids prescribed by their physician. Others are supplementing their levels because of age-related loss or due to gender transitioning through masculinizing hormone therapy. There are several methods people use to increase their testosterone. Natural ways to do it include:
- Lifting weights
- Getting enough Vitamin D and zinc
- Eating a whole food diet with the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat
- Getting the right amount of sleep
- Reducing your stress level
- Avoiding alcohol and drug use
Making lifestyle changes, then, may increase your body's natural testosterone production.
Another way people try to boost their testosterone is with prohormone supplements, such as DHEA, androstenedione, or androstenediol.
However, in one study, people assigned male at birth who took these supplements showed little gain in their testosterone levels, except for a small increase for those who had low testosterone before taking them. The only increases that were seen in these individuals were for those who received the supplements in a way that bypassed the digestive system. Even then, no evidence showed how this extra testosterone in the blood affected the behavior of the people in the study. No increase in muscle size or strength was noticed. People assigned female at birth who took the prohormones did see increases in testosterone level, but the hormone had a masculinizing effect as well as side effects, including increased rates of heart disease and cancer.
Finally, some people with low testosterone receive testosterone therapy in a medical setting. The most common reasons for people assigned male at birth to receive testosterone therapy are delayed puberty and low production of testosterone in the body. For people assigned female at birth, the most common reason is to treat specific inoperable breast cancers.
Many people believe that testosterone therapy will help them stay younger longer. There is evidence that increasing your testosterone may help you lose fat, increase muscle mass, reduce anxiety, and improve your mood. However, side effects may be harmful. Consult with doctor rather than acquiring the medication on your own and using it without medical supervision.
Should you stop taking testosterone?
When increasing levels, you may wonder if you should stop taking testosterone. Consulting with your healthcare provider is the first step you should take before taking any supplement or changing your level of physical activity. Further, if you do need testosterone therapy and you are worried that boosting your testosterone will make you angry and aggressive, you can talk to your doctor about your concerns before you start or continue testosterone therapy.
What else can you do to relieve your anger?
Regardless of whether your testosterone level is low, high, or normal, you may be experiencing more anger than you are comfortable feeling, or it is affecting your relationships.
Manage anger with online therapy
Your anger might be a symptom of a mental health disorder, including major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or intermittent explosive disorder. You may also have never learned appropriate ways of managing your anger. No matter what the cause, seeing a counselor may be a good way to address your angry feelings.
Studies have shown that counseling through online platforms can be a beneficial alternative to traditional in-person therapy for people dealing with anger issues. For example, a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Cognitive Behaviour Therapy examined the effects of online therapy. The study authors found that internet-based treatment plans reduced symptoms in people experiencing unwanted anger using CBT, or cognitive behavior therapy. CBT is a type of talk therapy that may help to reframe negative and intrusive thoughts that can sometimes lead to anger. By understanding the underlying causes that prompt certain emotions and implementing the tools that an online therapist provides, you may learn strategies in anger management that promote positive interactions and relationships.
As mentioned above, online therapy may help you understand the source of your anger and give you the tools to manage it. You can communicate with a licensed therapist at BetterHelp from the comfort of your home instead of having to go to a therapist’s office. This may prove especially helpful if you are working through emotions like anger. Online counseling is flexible and affordable. Read below for reviews of licensed therapists from those they’ve helped to live a more peaceful, positive life.
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