Depression / Suicide

Anabolic/androgenic steroids abuse may be associated with bouts of depression. This is most common after the administration of AAS drugs has been discontinued, especially following high doses or long cycles. During the time that steroids are being administered, natural hormone production is diminished because the body recognizes the excess hormone levels. When the steroid drugs are abruptly discontinued, however, the body can enter a state of temporary hypogonadism (low androgen levels). This may be associated with a number of psychological symptoms including depression, insomnia, and loss of interest. This condition is usually referred to as anabolic steroid withdrawal depression, and can persist for weeks or even months as the body slowly resumes normal hormone production.

The most common method of addressing anabolic steroid withdrawal depression in men is preemptively, with the implementation of an aggressive post-cycle hormone recovery program. These programs are typically based on the combined use of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) and anti-estrogenic drugs such as tamoxifen and clomiphene. They are used together in a way that can stimulate and sensitize the hypothalamic pituitary testicular axis, allowing natural hormone production to return more quickly. Alternately or concurrently, fluoxetine (or other antidepressant medications) may help alleviate symptoms of depression following steroid withdrawal, especially when this depression is prolonged or severe. These drugs must be used with caution, however, as they also have been linked with increased thoughts of suicide in some patients.

Although less common, depression is sometimes reported during the active administration of anabolic/androgenic steroids. This may be caused by an imbalance of sex steroid levels, particularly with regard to relative androgenicity or estrogenicity. In more cases than not, it will involve a situation where sufficient androgenicity is not present, usually when primarily anabolic drugs are being taken alone. Given the diverse nature in which sex steroids interact with human psychology, however, it is difficult to clearly outline the parameters necessary for this type of depression to develop. Further confusing the issue is the fact that this depression can involve either elevated or suppressed levels of certain sex steroids. The addition of testosterone to an anabolic steroid cycle causing depression may alleviate the problem in many (but not all) instances, as it can provide both supplemental androgenic and estrogenic action.

Suicide has been linked to anabolic/steroid abuse in rare instances. Such reports are usually case studies, involving individuals that were believed to be psychologically stable before abusing AAS, and who committed suicide during or after use of the drugs. It is known that depression is a common complaint during anabolic steroid withdrawal. It is also known that a small percentage of users are especially sensitive to the psychological effects of anabolic/androgenic steroids, and notice dramatic mood swings, manic behavior, and/or severe depression with their use. It is unknown why these individuals have such extreme reactions, while the vast majority of users notice only mild or moderate changes to their psychological state. Further research is needed to identify and understand these individuals. Readers are cautioned that adverse psychological effects, including severe depression and suicidal thoughts, have been associated with steroid abuse in a small minority of users. Beyond this, there is no compelling evidence suggesting that anabolic/androgenic steroid abuse will lead to suicide in otherwise mentally stable users.

References

Wlliam Llewellyn (2011) - Anabolics

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