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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2007 Sep-Nov;32(8-10):874-83. Epub 2007 Jul 24.

Associations between sex steroid hormone levels and depressive symptoms in elderly men and women: results from the Health ABC study.

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  • 1EMGO Institute/Department of Psychiatry, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Sex steroid hormone levels decline with age and in some studies this decline has been linked with depressive symptoms. This study investigates the association between total testosterone, free testosterone, and DHEAS levels with depressive symptoms in a well-functioning elderly population.


Data are from 2855 well-functioning elderly men and women, 70-79 years of age, participating in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition study. Depressive symptoms were measured using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale. Total testosterone, free testosterone, and DHEAS levels were assessed after an overnight fast.


In men and women, DHEAS levels and depressive symptoms were inversely associated after adjustment for covariates (men: beta=-0.059, p=0.03, women: beta=-0.054, p=0.05). In addition, free testosterone levels in women, but not in men, were inversely associated with depressive symptoms (adjusted beta=-0.079, p=0.004). Men, but not women, in the lowest total testosterone quartile reported significantly more depressive symptoms than men in the other total testosterone quartiles (adjusted beta=-0.166, p=0.04).


Our study is consistent with the idea that testosterone and DHEAS levels may play a role in mechanisms underlying depressive symptoms in old age.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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