What are the symptoms of withdrawal from steroids?
Athletes who abuse steroids often take them in a "cycling" pattern: They take the drugs in very high doses for a period of weeks or months, then stop taking them.(1,2) Stopping anabolic steroids can lead to several physical and psychological side effects, such as "depression, fatigue, decreased sex drive, insomnia, loss of appetite, dissatisfaction with body image, and craving for more steroids."(1,3) Some researchers feel that there are two phases to the withdrawal, but this concept is not widely accepted:(3,4) Phase I occurs during the first week of withdrawal, and includes flu- like symptoms such as joint pain, runny nose, diarrhea, and elevated temperature.(3,4) Phase II begins the second week of withdrawal and may last up to several months; symptoms are depression and craving for steroids.(3,4) Whether this model adequately describes the withdrawal symptoms of high-dose steroid abuse or not, suicidal depression may occur after steroids are withdrawn.(4-6) If possible, withdrawal from steroids should be monitored by a health care professional to determine the risk of suicide in each case.
1. Brower KJ, Eliopulos GA, Blow FC, Catlin DH, Beresford TP.
Evidence for physical and psychological dependence on anabolic
androgenic steroids in 8 weight lifters. American Journal Of
Psychiatry 1990 Apr;147(4):510-2.
2. Kashkin KB, Kleber HD. Hooked on hormones - an anabolic
steroid addiction hypothesis. JAMA J Am Med Assoc 1989 Dec
3. Brower KJ, Catlin DH, Blow FC, Eliopulos GA, Beresford TP.
Clinical assessment and urine testing for anabolic-androgenic
steroid abuse and dependence. American Journal Of Drug And
Alcohol Abuse 1991;17(2):161-71.
4. Brower KJ. Addictive potential of anabolic steroids.
Psychiatric Annals 1992 Jan;22(1):30-4.
5. Narducci WA, Wagner JC, Hendrickson TP, Jeffrey TP. Anabolic
steroids - a review of the clinical toxicology and diagnostic
screening. Journal Of Toxicology-Clinical Toxicology
6. Brower KJ, Blow FC, Eliopulos GA, Beresford TP. Anabolic
androgenic steroids and suicide. American Journal Of
Psychiatry 1989 Aug;146(8):1075.
by Trent Tschirgi, R. Ph.
(c) 1992 University of Maryland Office of Substance Abuse Studies.
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