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Can Steroids Cause Anxiety?

If you feel restless, nervous or panicky, you could be struggling with anxiety. While there are many causes of anxiety — some completely normal — these feelings of intense worry or fear can be a side effect of the medications you’re taking. One such medication could be steroids.

While some steroids, like prednisone, are prescribed to treat inflammatory conditions, anabolic steroids are often misused by athletes looking to increase their physical performance. Using steroids without a doctor’s consent can cause you to experience many of the drug’s adverse properties, including increased anxiety levels.

What Is Steroids Anxiety?

Anabolic steroids are a synthetic version of testosterone that people often take to improve their athletic performance or enhance their image. Around 10 million Americans, both men and women, misuse steroids. Some start as early as 13 years old. Many rationalize their use, believing the drug’s muscle-building effects outweigh any concerns about the unwanted symptoms. However, these people are seriously misinformed.

You may be aware of the drug’s capacity for causing aggressive behavior — also called “roid rage.” However, steroid misuse can also lead to other behavioral changes — namely, anxiety and feelings of severe unrest.

Why Do Steroids Cause Anxiety?

Anabolic steroids mimic the natural hormone testosterone. Users value this drug for its ability to stimulate protein synthesis and promote cell growth in muscles, leading to more pronounced muscle growth. However, research has found that taking moderate to high doses of anabolic steroids is associated with various psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, mood disorders, insomnia and even psychosis.

Steroids impact the brain’s serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitter systems. Dopamine is the feel-good chemical that helps reinforce positive behaviors, like eating, exercising and building friendships. Serotonin helps regulate numerous bodily functions, including your emotions. Although research is ongoing, many studies show that steroid use impacts these systems and causes various behavioral changes and psychiatric disorders.

How to Manage Steroid-Related Anxiety

Some steroids are used as a doctor-prescribed treatment. If you find you’re struggling with steroid-related anxiety due to your medication, speak to your healthcare provider right away. They may adjust your dosage or recommend another approach for dealing with any mood problems you may be experiencing.

Steroid misuse can trap individuals in a cycle of increasing legal, physical and emotional problems. Taking anabolic steroids to enhance athletic performance is banned by sports organizations and is illegal in the United States. However, some people still obtain the drug illicitly and experience some of the steroids’ more adverse side effects — such as chronic anxiety.

To manage steroid-related anxiety, it’s important to get this drug out of your system and allow your body to heal so symptoms cannot progress any further.

Invest in Your Wellness

While it may be scary to face the negative consequences of drug use, Gateway Foundation can help. We offer professional addiction treatment services to help you safely and effectively heal your body and mind after steroid misuse.

Even if you don’t think you’re addicted to steroids, we can help you manage their physical and emotional side effects so you can find healing in recovery. Contact us today to learn more.

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