Steroids: Mental effects

Last modified: Saturday, 20. June 2009 - 3:37 pm

AASs typically do not have any immediate psychological effect, but men and women often experience both negative and positive effects. Psychological effects reported by over half of users in one study included a mild state of mania and increased irritability. Probably the most significant behavioral effect is increased aggressive behavior, which was reported by 40% of those surveyed. Steroid users have reported aggressive acts, such as fighting, using force, and armed robbery, while others have committed property crimes, such as stealing, damaging property, or breaking into houses or buildings. “Roid rage” is a slang term for describing the aggressive feelings and behaviors from AAS use. What is uncertain is whether the steroids’ direct effects on the brain triggered the aggression or whether the perceived link between steroids and aggression is an excuse to commit the acts. To test this, four studies have been conducted that compared high steroid doses or placebo to reported behavioral symptoms. Three of the four studies showed high steroid doses produced greater feelings of irritability and aggression than placebo. Some researchers believe many, but not all, anabolic steroids increase irritability and aggression.
Tolerance, needing more of a drug to get the same effect, was first demonstrated in AAS use among animals in the 1950s. In two 2000 studies, 12% to 18% of AAS users reported tolerance. Other behavioral effects reported are euphoria, increased energy, sexual arousal, mood swings, distractibility, forgetfulness, and confusion. A minority of volunteers that were given high steroid doses developed extreme behavioral symptoms that affected their jobs and personal lives. There are also the following reported behavior effects when steroid use is stopped: depression, mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, and reduced sex drive. Overall, the prevalence of extreme cases of violence and behavioral disorders is small, but incidents may be underreported.
In a 2000 study of female athletes from gymnasiums, 40% reported symptoms of depression during withdrawal from AASs. Another finding was both AAS-using and nonusing women reported several unusual psychiatric syndromes, such as eating disorders, nontra-ditional gender roles, and chronic preoccupation with their physiques.

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