Mid-Life Crisis or Male Menopause
By Michael Ceo
Okay guys, we see it in men everywhere. We hit middle age and there is a nearly irresistible pull to put a charge back in your world. It can take many forms, some healthy while some destructive. For some men it’s a motorcycle or sports car, an urge for adventure or the compelling illusion that a hot younger babe is going to turn back your biological clock. Or the symptoms are more internalized such as: increased irritability, sexual dysfunction, loss of interest in life’s pleasures or a diminished sense of drive and purpose.
When such a profile presents in a therapist’s office, a critical question is raised clinically. To what extent does this profile have a psychological or a biological basis?
Having just read Dr. Eugene Shippen’s book, “The Testosterone Syndrome,” my thinking about male depression is being profoundly affected. The availability of the male hormone within a man’s system reportedly declines with age. This chemical essence of maleness actually charges receptor sites in cells and organ systems throughout our bodies. In addition to our male plumbing, our brain and muscles, especially the heart muscle is ripe with these receptor sites. Testosterone is the key that unlocks the proper functioning or these cells, many of which may have become dormant or starved due to hormonal decline.
The production of dopamine, the brain neurotransmitter that charges us with energy and drive is stimulated by testosterone. Could men in middle age be reacting to declining testosterone by undertaking activities and making decisions that are attempts at pumping up their dopamine? Are symptoms of depression in middle-aged men really an urgent S.O.S. signaling a need for more energizing male juice? After all, the marketing pitch aimed at males for high- powered cars centers on three words: performance, exhilaration and control.
To illuminate these questions, I turned to a local physician who has found his passion. While practicing medicine in the early 1990’s, Dr. Bill Lee was looking for a prevention model rather than just waiting for disease.
As he explains it,” the hormonal decline is the most powerful one that I found and made the most sense.” He added,” Once you read what hormones do, you see them as the generals and the nutrients as the soldiers.” While working on a wellness program for firefighters, Dr. Lee found testosterone replacement to have a jump-starting effect for men. He noticed emotional & mental improvements in a month or so with libido improving after about 3 months of male hormone therapy.
Is there a relationship between inadequate testosterone and prostate cancer?
Dr. Lee concurred,” men get prostate cancer by declining testosterone converting into estrogen.” This is partly due to zinc deficiency and may explain why certain shellfish like oysters and conch have a reputation for charging the male system.
According to Dr. Lee,” Zinc blocks conversion of testosterone into estrogen… I look at the ‘original equipment’ first to see if there is a cause for symptoms before going to medications.” He uses bio-identical creams from a compounding pharmacy.” This allows for absorption of male hormone through the skin. He characterized the response for men as “impressive.” Treating male aging symptoms has made the practice of medicine very interesting and satisfying,” Dr. Lee said.In a future column I would like to examine how natural hormone replacement for women similarly improves emotional health and wellness.