Taking steroids to build muscle may actually have the opposite effect on a bodybuilder’s brains.
That’s the conclusion of new research linking the use of anabolic-androgenic steroids to reduced mental health later in life. The findings, publishes by University of Gothenburg researchers in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, are based on an analysis of the physical and mental health of several hundred elite Swedish strength athletes — 20 percent of whom admitted steroid use.
"We found a clear link. [Steroid] users were more likely to have been treated for depression, concentration problems, and aggressive behavior," said Claudia Fahlke, director of the University of Gothenburg's Centre for Education and Research on Addiction.
For the study, Fahlke and her colleagues tracked nearly 700 former Swedish wrestlers, weightlifters, and power lifters who competed between 1960 and 1979. One in five admitted using steroids during their active careers.
The results showed steroid users were not only far more likely to suffer mental health problems, but were also more prone to illicit drug and alcohol use.
"What we were able to show … is that psychiatric symptoms and use of steroids and other drugs tend to reinforce each other in a vicious cycle. This suggests that the anti-doping efforts remain very important, both in and outside of sports," said Fahlke.
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