Increased estrogen level can be associated with depression in males

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2018 Jan;87:196-203. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.10.025. Epub 2017 Nov 2.


Background: Several studies have shown a positive association between depression and obesity; however the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. It is not known if this association is driven by altered sex hormone levels in men due to increased BMI.

Patients and methods: Data were obtained from the LIFE-Adult-Study, a population-based cohort study. A total of 3925 men (2244<60years and 1681>60years) were included into analyses. Associations between BMI, sex hormones and depressive symptomatology according to CES-D score were evaluated.

Results: Obese men had compared to normal weight controls lower total testosterone (12.6±4.7 vs 19.4±5.5 nmol/L, p<0.001 in <60years, and 13.8±6.9 vs 18.3±5.9 nmol/L, p<0.001 in >60years group) and free testosterone (249.0±73.9 vs 337.2±82.0pmol/L, p<0.001, and 217.8±71.2 vs 263.4±72.2pmol/L, p<0.001), and increased estradiol in older group only (97.3±43.0 vs 82.3±34.2pmol/L, p<0.001 in obese). Men <60years old with depressive symptomatology had higher estradiol levels compared to those without depressive symptomatology (96.3±40.7 vs 84.4±36.6pmol/L, p<0.001), however no association with BMI was observed.

Conclusions: Selected sex hormone parameters were significantly different in overweight and obese compared to normal weight males and certain differences could be seen between younger and older males. Depressive symptomatology was associated with increased estradiol levels in younger men, regardless of BMI.

Keywords: Association of BMI; BMI; Depression; Estrogen; Men; Sex hormones; Sex hormones and depression in men.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depression / metabolism*
  • Depressive Disorder / complications
  • Estradiol / metabolism
  • Estradiol / physiology
  • Estrogens / analysis
  • Estrogens / blood
  • Estrogens / metabolism*
  • Estrogens / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / analysis
  • Testosterone / analysis
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Testosterone / metabolism


  • Estrogens
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Testosterone
  • Estradiol