Anabolic steroid abuse describes the side effects of the use of synthetic testosterone and similar male hormones for non-therapeutic purposes. Anabolic steroids are often used by athletes where strength and musculature are at a premium as these hormones help build and repair muscle tissue.
Anabolic steroids have numerous therapeutic uses, including stimulating the formation of bone marrow, to treat children with growth difficulties, to treat anorexia from chemotherapy or AIDS, and to prevent the loss of bone mass in the elderly. However, even in therapeutic uses, they have numerous side effects that must be monitored for adverse health consequences, as well as several others that affect behavior and personality. In addition, use of synthetic hormones tends to suppress the natural production of the same hormones by the body.
Among the adverse health consequences of anabolic steroids are an increase in blood pressure, particularly among those whose blood pressure is already high, harmful changes in cholesterol levels, pathologies of the heart such as coronary artery disease, arhythmia and congestive heart failure, as well as liver damage, In addition, users may develop acne, hypogonadism (in males), excess hair growth (in females), reduced sexual function, and baldness (in males), Behavioral changes are not uncommon, ranging from increased aggression to psychosis. Mood disorders, clinical depression and suicidal thoughts are also not uncommon. In addition, patients tend to hide their steroid use from their regular physician.
Treatment focusses on slowly weaning the patient off of the steroids until their own natural steroids start production again. Short term crises can be treated with progesterone, a female sex hormone that mediates the effect of male hormones on the body.