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Anabolic Steroids and Depression

Anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) abuse has a wide range of negative effects on the human body. Many of the well-known side effects of these drugs are experienced by the physical body of a user. Side effects include things like increased blood pressure, risk of heart disease, unusually oily skin, acne, gynecomastia (the abnormally excessive development of the breast tissue in males), thinning hair, jaundice, and many more.

Often times people do not think about the psychological side effects associated with anabolic steroid use as they can happen suddenly and without visible triggers or reasons. Since these drugs are designed to mimic the effects of the hormone Testosterone, they often trigger emotional changes by the user. These include extreme mood swings, increased aggression or irritability, withdrawal, paranoia, and even depression.  Sometimes severe depression.

Depression is particularly prevalent when steroid use is discontinued. As users continue abuse of anabolic steroids, the body’s natural production of hormones is decreased (it no longer needs to produce because the user is providing them exogenously). When someone decides to cease the use of AAS, it takes time for their body to begin naturally producing those hormones again. During this time, many users will have withdrawal symptoms including depression, which can be severe. One study conducted by Harvard researchers found that as many as 29% of AAS users withdrawing from anabolic steroid usage will experience severe depression.  As a result of this depression, users may turn to drugs and alcohol to help self-medicate while some will have thoughts of suicide. The end of a steroid cycle can often times be the most dangerous time for a user.

Suicide is a national crisis.  If you or anyone you know has thought about taking their life, please remember that there is help available and that none of us are alone.  If you or someone you care about is having suicidal thoughts, please call the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Intervention can be the key to saving lives.

For more information about the side effects that come along with the use of AAS please visit our website:  taylorhooton.org .

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