February 1st 2006
Anabolic steroids have gone from an appropriate treatment for men with hypogonadism to an agent abused by athletes, bodybuilders, adolescents, and young adults. Use of steroids at levels 10 to 100 times those of therapeutic dosages can cause psychiatric symptoms, such as aggression, mania, depression, and psychosis. Steroid abusers often "stack" several steroids or "pyramid" agents through a 4- to 12-week cycle. Presenting complaints of steroid abusers include muscle spasms, dizziness, frequent urination, and menstrual abnormalities. Signs may include high blood pressure, needle marks, icteric eyes, muscle hypertrophy, and edema; testicular atrophy and gynecomastia in men; and hirsutism and atrophied breasts in women. Mood changes can occur within a week of first use, and body changes may occur after acute behavioral disturbances.