The use of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AASs) by professional and recreational athletes is increasing worldwide. The underlying motivations are mainly performance enhancement and body image improvement. AAS abuse and dependence, which are specifically classified and coded by the DSM-5, are not uncommon. AAS-using athletes are frequently present with psychiatric symptoms and disorders, mainly somatoform and eating, but also mood, and schizophrenia-related disorders. Some psychiatric disorders are typical of athletes, like muscle dysmorphia. This raises the issue of whether AAS use causes these disorders in athletes, by determining neuroadaptive changes in the reward neural circuit or by exacerbating stress vulnerability, or rather these are athletes with premorbid abnormal personalities or a history of psychiatric disorders who are attracted to AAS use, prompted by the desire to improve their appearance and control their weights. This may predispose to eating disorders, but AASs also show mood destabilizing effects, with longterm use inducing depression and short-term hypomania; withdrawal/discontinuation may be accompanied by depression. The effects of AASs on anxiety behavior are unclear and studies are inconsistent. AASs are also linked to psychotic behavior. The psychological characteristics that could prompt athletes to use AASs have not been elucidated.
Steroids can have long-lasting and sometimes irreversible side effects on the body. Anabolic steroids have been linked to increased cholesterol, stroke and blood clots, urinary and bowel problems, and problems with the musculoskeletal system. Since steroids are a hormone, much like testosterone, the effects on sex characteristics can be far reaching, causing a kind of hyper-masculinity in young men. They can also cause male-pattern baldness and shrinking of the testicles. The excess of testosterone can also have feminizing effects on young men, such as breast development. (Jerry Adler, 2004)
In addition to the mentioned side effects several others have been reported. In both males and females acne are frequently reported, as well as hypertrophy of sebaceous glands, increased tallow excretion, hair loss, and alopecia. There is some evidence that anabolic steroid abuse may affect the immune system, leading to a decreased effectiveness of the defense system. Steroid use decreases the glucose tolerance, while there is an increase in insulin resistance. These changes mimic Type II diabetes. These changes seem to be reversible after abstention from the drugs.