There is a link between use of anabolic-androgenic steroids
and reduced mental health later in life.
This is the main conclusion of a new study on elite male
strength athletes that researchers from the University of Gothenburg recently
published in the British Journal of
Sports Medicine. Twenty per cent of the subjects in the study admitted
The study is published by CERA, which is the University of
Gothenburg's centre for education and research on addiction. Together with
colleagues from Sahlgrenska University Hospital, they found a connection
between abuse of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) and mental health problems
many years later.
How the study was
The study included almost 700 former Swedish wrestlers,
weightlifters, powerlifters and throwers who competed at the elite level
sometime between 1960 and 1979. Twenty per cent of them admitted using steroids
during their active careers. The purpose of the study was to look for links
between AAS use and mental problems.
'We found a clear link. AAS users were more likely to have
been treated for depression, concentration problems and aggressive behaviour,'
says Claudia Fahlke, director at CERA.
The researchers also found that AAS users were more likely
to have abused other illicit drugs and alcohol. However, it remains unclear
whether the steroid use actually caused the mental health problems or the
mental health problems rather caused the steroid use.
'What we were able to show, though, 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,' says Fahlke.