Does Testosterone Make You Angry?
By: Julia Thomas
Updated August 05, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault
Most people associate testosterone with males. However, women also have some natural testosterone. Also, both men and women can take testosterone supplements or have testosterone replacement therapy for various purposes. Another common association is between testosterone and anger. So, many people want to know: does testosterone make you angry? It's an important question to consider, especially if you're thinking about increasing your testosterone levels.
What Is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone. Hormones are natural substances present in the body. Also called "chemical messengers," they regulate many processes in the body by stimulating certain cells or tissues. Testosterone is classified as a male hormone called androgen. Androgens are also called steroids.
Testosterone is produced naturally in the body. In men, it's produced mainly in the testes. In women, it's mostly produced in the ovaries. In both men and women, a small amount is produced in the adrenal glands. Testosterone production is controlled in the hypothalamus of the brain, and that message is sent to the testes, ovaries, or adrenal glands by the pituitary gland.
What Are the Benefits of Natural Testosterone?
Testosterone is extremely important for health, especially for men. In males, 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 influences your sex drive. It helps with healthy fat distribution as well as muscle mass and strength. It's important in the production of red blood cells. It's also been linked to healthy bone mass.
For women, testosterone performs similar functions. When women go through menopause, their testosterone levels naturally decline. This can lead to reduced sex drive. It may also impact their bone mass, putting them at greater risk for osteoporosis. Men's testosterone levels can also diminish as they age.
Some of the effects of low testosterone for men include:
- Decreased sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Low sperm count
- 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. The truth is that whenever your hormones are out of balance, uncomfortable feelings like anger can 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, there's a realistic chance that you're going to have some of the above health problems soon, if you don't have them already. So, getting more testosterone may be a healthy thing to do. You can try to get more testosterone by taking supplements, having testosterone replacement therapy, or changing your lifestyle habits.
However, not everyone who wants more testosterone is trying to overcome low levels of the hormone. Often, men use anabolic steroids to boost their testosterone levels. Usually, they're trying to increase it above what's needed, thinking that it will give them an athletic edge or help them "get" more women. Unfortunately, there are risks to boosting testosterone this way. It can:
- Raise blood pressure
- Lead to liver disease
- Make you more aggressive
- Cause skin infections
- Increase your red blood cell count
- Make you infertile
How Testosterone Affects Mood
Although testosterone has been linked with aggression and anger for a long time, researchers today aren't so sure that the connection is there. Other factors may be at play, including genetics and the endocrine system, as well as cultural norms for men and women.
As a hormone, testosterone may indeed affect mood, as many other hormones do. Testosterone does affect the brain, but the mood effects of this hormone are difficult to assess. One of the problems with studies on testosterone and behavior is that studies that find no correlation are 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, men with mood problems are more likely to have low, rather than high, testosterone. When men who have low testosterone receive testosterone therapy, they may benefit greatly. Not only does it help them physically, but it also tends to relieve depression and anxiety. In one scientific review, scientists pointed out that anxiety and depression both decreased for men with low testosterone when they received testosterone therapy.
More research is needed to understand how testosterone or lack of it affects mood fully. Yet, to this point, the idea that testosterone can make you angry seems to be mostly a myth. Beyond that, testosterone therapy helps normalize your mood when your testosterone level has been too low.
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 feel your anger is because you're male or because you're taking testosterone supplements. It's those personal expectations that can influence how you experience anger.
Social expectations can play a part, too. Although women do have testosterone, men have the most. It's also men who show anger most often. Therefore, one easy assumption is that testosterone is what's causing men to be angry. But, is this true? Or, are women just as angry but not fully experiencing or expressing it? This could be the case since women are socialized to hide their anger, while men are encouraged throughout their lives to express it openly.
Should You Stop Taking Testosterone?
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, carbohydrate, and fat
- Getting the right amount of sleep
- Reducing your stress level
- Avoiding alcohol and drug use
Making lifestyle changes, then, can increase your body's natural testosterone production. Another way people try to boost their testosterone is with prohormone supplements like DHEA, androstenedione, or androstenediol.
However, in one study, men who took these supplements showed little gain in their testosterone levels except for a small increase for men who had low testosterone before taking them. The only increases that were seen in men 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 behavior for the men in the study. No increase in muscle size or strength was noticed. Women 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 men and women with low testosterone are given testosterone therapy in a medical setting. The most common reasons for men to receive testosterone therapy are delayed puberty and low production of testosterone in the body. For women, the most common reason is to treat specific inoperable breast cancers.
Many men, as well as some women, believe that testosterone therapy will help them stay younger longer. And, there is evidence that increasing your testosterone may help you lose fat, increase muscle mass, reduce anxiety, and improve your mood. However, side effects can be harmful. So, it's important to get this treatment from a doctor rather than acquiring the medication on your own and using it without medical supervision.
If you do need testosterone therapy and you're worried that boosting your testosterone will make you angry and aggressive, you can relax. There's no reason to buy into that myth. What you should do is talk to your doctor about your concerns before you start or continue testosterone therapy. As for prohormones, your money might be better spent by purchasing a gym membership or buying healthier foods. The evidence just isn't there to justify the cost and possible side effects of taking prohormones.
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're a comfortable feeling. Your angry feelings may lead to poor relationships, drug abuse, or even aggression and the legal problems that come with it. So, it's important that you do something to resolve those feelings positively.
Your anger might be a symptom of a mental health problem like depression, bipolar disorder, or PTSD. Or, perhaps you've just never learned appropriate ways of dealing with your anger. No matter what the cause is, seeing a counselor is 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. A study of the effects of online therapy, published in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, found that internet-based treatment plans reduced symptoms in people experiencing unwanted anger. Cognitive-behavioral therapy works to reframe those negative and intrusive thoughts that can sometimes lead to anger. By understanding the triggers that prompt certain emotions, and implementing the tools that an online therapist provides, those with problematic anger can produce more positive interactions and relationships.
As mentioned above, online therapy can 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—no more commutes to and from an office, or missed lunch breaks. 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.
“Shawn has helped me gain a positive perspective on my life and change my focus from shortcomings or failures to my strengths and achievements. He really examines my problems carefully and provided worksheets to help me identify my goals and triggers for my anger issues. This greatly helped me to increase self-awareness.”
“Deborah was amazing, she’s helped me find ways to deal with my anger issues and self esteem issues that I’ve carried for most of my life in such a short amount of time. I would recommend her to anyone who struggles with these same issues. I knew I wasn’t a lost cause but I never thought Deborah would help me learn to deal with them and solve these problems so quickly. She’s definitely amazing at her job. 10/10 recommend.”
No matter the source of your anger, there are ways to confront and manage it. If you are ready to deal with unwanted anger, online counseling through BetterHelp can be an excellent place to start. Reach out today.
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