The scientific side of steroid use and abuseAnabolic steroids are artificial versions of a hormone that's in all of us -- testosterone. That's right, testosterone is in effects anabolic steroids have on the brain as well as guys. Testosterone effectw only brings out male sexual traits, it also causes muscles to grow. Some people take anabolic steroid pills or injections to try to build muscle faster. But these steroids also have other effects.
Mind Over Matter: Anabolic Steroids | NIDA for Teens
Androgens of different stripes exert a number of different actions in the body and brain, depending on the steroid, dose, and person taking it.
In some studies, testosterone replacement has resulted in improvement in bone mass, muscle strength, and quality of life.
And there is growing evidence for beneficial effects of physiological doses of androgens on learning, cognition and mood. However, high doses of anabolic steroids are associated with an array of adverse psychiatric effects, including aggression, violent outbursts, hypomania, and depression.
These symptoms generally become more prominent as the steroid dose increases, but they do not manifest in all users uniformly. Aggression is the No.
In animal studies, anabolic steroids dramatically increase aggression in doses and combinations that mimic street use. Moreover, in adolescent animals, steroids disrupt the normal development of aggression circuits in the brain and induce biological and behavioral changes that persist long after steroid use is stopped.
What accounts for such dramatic contradictions from the same family of hormones? The difference is in the dose, experts say. These high doses completely change the way the system behaves. For 10 years, Melloni and his collaborators have injected some 1, adolescent hamsters with anabolic steroids in amounts and combinations that resemble street doses, then carefully have tracked their behavior and neural responses.
Still, the underlying neurobiology—the question of how steroids increase aggression— was not understood at all. Their evidence points to two neurochemical systems in particular, vasopressin and serotonin, which act respectively as stimulator and inhibitor of aggression in the hamsters Melloni has studied.
His group is now expanding the work to look at how other neurotransmitter systems, such as gammaaminobutyric acid and glutamate, may be involved in the intensified aggressive response. The association between testosterone and human aggression has been the focus of considerable research, but there are few data on the influence of therapeutic replacement doses of testosterone on male aggressive behavior.
Aggression aside, it is increasingly clear that replacing natural levels of androgens does have psychological effects, says Neil MacLusky, a neuroendocrinologist at Helen Hayes Hospital in New York. This finding suggests distinct pathways for the neural effects of these compounds. The bottom line, experts say, is that not all androgens act the same, and that dose matters.
There is a pervasive fear among researchers in this area that the recent media hype over anabolic steroids could produce a backlash against even legitimate medical uses of androgens. Courtesy of Rich Melloni, Northeastern University. Your Brain on Steroids: The Difference Is the Dose What accounts for such dramatic contradictions from the same family of hormones?
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