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

Lisette F.J. Morsink, Nicole Vogelzangs, Barbara J. Nicklas, Aartjan T.F. Beekman, Suzanne Satterfield, Susan M. Rubin, Kristine Yaffe, Eleanor Simonsick, Anne B. Newman, Stephen B. Kritchevsky, Brenda W.J.H. Penninx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Introduction: 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. Methods: 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. Results: In men and women, DHEAS levels and depressive symptoms were inversely associated after adjustment for covariates (men: β=-0.059, p=0.03, women: β=-0.054, p=0.05). In addition, free testosterone levels in women, but not in men, were inversely associated with depressive symptoms (adjusted β=-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 β=-0.166, p=0.04). Discussion: Our study is consistent with the idea that testosterone and DHEAS levels may play a role in mechanisms underlying depressive symptoms in old age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)874-883
Number of pages10
Issue number8-10
StatePublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEAS)
  • Depression
  • Free testosterone
  • Older persons
  • Sex steroid hormones
  • Total testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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