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PHARMACOLOGICAL AND DOPING SECTION   

Medicina dello Sport 2000 June;53(2):173-7

Copyright © 2000 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: Italian

Psychiatric symptoms and dependence induced by anabolic steroids

Rossi R. 1, Gambelunghe C. 1, Melai P. 2, Micheletti A. 1, Parisse I. 1, Sommavilla M. 1, Rufini S. 1

1 Scuola di Specializzazione in Medicina dello Sport, Università degli Studi, Perugia; 2 Istituto di Medicina Legale e delle Assicurazioni, Università degli Studi, Perugia


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Anabolic steroids are synthetic androgens that are used by athletes to enhance performance or by bodybuilders to improve physical appearance. The use of these drugs at higher than therapeutic doses produces not only many medical effects (musculo-skeletal injures, testicular atrophy, gynecomastia, liver disease, etc.) but also psychiatric effects. Several studies have demonstrated increases in irritability, aggressiveness, euphoria, mood swings, altered libido, hypomaniac and maniac episodes until, in very serious cases, depressive disorder, psychotic symptoms and suicidal thoughts. Many studies have reported cases of users of anabolic steroids who meet the diagnostic criteria for psychoactive substance dependence as defined by DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).
Potential steroid abusers such as athletes and nonathletes seeking to add bulk, muscle definition or improve their self-image should be aware that these drugs are dangerous, particularly if used without medical control or at high doses.

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