Mental Health

Low testosterone may impair mood in anorexic women

Association showed with anxiety, depression and bone loss

Low testosterone may impair mood in anorexic women

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

By Martha Kerr

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Low levels of the hormone testosterone in women with anorexia nervosa are associated with anxiety, depression and bone loss, Harvard researchers told attendees of the Endocrine Society’s 89th annual meeting, in Toronto.

Principal investigator Dr. Karen K. Miller presented findings from two studies to meeting participants. In the first, Miller’s team measured testosterone levels and assessed depression and anxiety in 43 women with anorexia nervosa living in the community.

(Testosterone, which is responsible for male sexual characteristics, may be primarily associated with men, but it is also normally present in women.)

As testosterone levels fell, depression seemed to worsen, Miller said. The average testosterone levels were lowest in women with the most severe depression and anxiety.

“Testosterone was an important predictor of anxiety, depression and eating disorder severity,” Miller reported. The link was seen in women on antidepressants and in those who were not.

In a second study, Miller’s group looked at testosterone in relation to body composition and bone loss in 217 women.

Low testosterone levels predictor of bone loss and body composition in women with anorexia nervosa, Miller concluded. Moreover, use of oral contraceptives appeared to lower testosterone levels.

“Interventional studies are needed to confirm these findings,” Miller emphasized, “and to determine whether oral contraceptive use, mediated by reductions in (testosterone) levels. In anorexic women, oral contraceptives “may be deleterious to skeletal health, may be deleterious to their muscle health, and may be deleterious to their mood. We don’t know.”

Copyright © 2007 Reuters Limited.
Source: MedlinePlus (NIH NIM)

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