The neurological and psychological side effects of steroid use

September 17, 2012

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Anabolic steroids have been used by both men and women for decades as “performance-enhancing drugs”.  The lure of being faster, stronger and better is strong so many overlook the potential risks.  adolescents are particularly vulnerable and very impressionable.  Many will claim to have done their “research” but what does that really consist of?  Did they talk to the ‘guys’ in the locker room, chat on line or did they actually take the time to read about steroids and the potential consequences both in the short term and the long term.  There is another area that long term use of steroids affects.  It not only has physical side effects but psychological side effects as well.
One of the most well known and widely publicized psychological effects of long term steroid use is aggressive behavior known as “roid rage”.  Roid rage affects both men and women that use anabolic steroids.  There have been numerous studies that have confirmed that steroid induced rage is not only real but a well documented fact.  Steroids affect the circuits in your brain that manages your impulse control.  Impulse control is what prevents you from displaying sudden out bursts of anger and aggression.  Steroid users that already had poor impulse control before using steroids are particularly susceptible to violent outbursts.

picture of bodybuilder with Steroid Addiction

Depression and addiction are common psychological side effects of steroid use.

People that started using steroids as teenagers are also prone to violent outburst as the introduction of steroids during puberty significantly alters the chemical pathways in the brain.  Studies have documented that teenagers that use steroids show that the neurological pathways in the brain are highly vulnerable to damage.  Steroids interfere with the brains ability to produce serotonin.  Serotonin is what gives us our sense of well being.  When the production of serotonin is interfered with it usually leads to increased depression as well as aggression and frequently these are permanent.  Which means even if you stop using steroids “whats done is done” you can’t go back.
In young  women that use steroids you’re messing with a hormone balance that is already delicate which can only mean trouble.  Steroids significantly reduce your levels of estrogen and progesterone leading leading to both short term and long term effects including severe depression and anxiety.  Women and teenage girls that use steroids that disrupt the delicate balance between the female hormones estrogen and progesterone also run the risk of not just temporary infertility but permanent infertility as well as the severe anxiety and depression .  The depression can be severe enough to lead to suicide in both men and women.  Another potential side effect related to long term steroid use is addiction, and not just addiction to steroids but to other drugs as well ranging from caffeine to benzodiazapines and even to drugs like cocaine and heroine which are already highly addictive.  Testosterone interferes with the dopamine antagonists in the brain which are responsible for limiting the effects of drug use and inhibiting your desire for more.  For example, say you always had just one cup of coffee in the morning and no desire for more, with long term steroid use you would start wanting/needing a second and a third etc.
Though there is no guarantee that you will experience long term and/or psychological effects from steroid use the chances that you will are significantly higher than that you won’t.  Most side effects of steroid use are related to dose and the length of time you take steroids.  Also, the earlier you start using steroids has a significant impact.  Teenagers that use steroids especially during puberty even if they stop in early adulthood have already caused irreversible damage in many ways.  If you are considering steroid use first of all don’t forget they’re illegal for a reason.  they are dangerous and should be used with extreme caution.  Research, research, research, and I don’t mean in the locker room or in a chat room and whatever you do do not skip over the section of side effects.  Read ALL the side effects and think about them.  They may not develop for several years but chances are they will develop and it will be too late to change your mind.