What Are Steroids?

A steroid is a type of hormone, and there are three different types of steroids.

  • Anabolic steroids. Testosterone is an anabolic steroid and is connected to muscle development, hair growth, and sexual development.
  • Minerocorticosteroids such as vasopressin help regulate the body’s sodium and water balance.
  • Gluticocorticosteroids like prednisone act as anti-inflammatories to help with ailments like asthma and swelling.

Possible Steroid Side Effects

An unfortunate aspect of medicine is that sometimes the medications we use to treat some problems end up introducing or exacerbating others.  Some patients taking steroid medications experience:

  • Anxiety and fearfulness.
  • Mania—unusually high moods, sometimes to the point of reckless behavior.
  • Irritability and agitation.
  • Difficulty concentrating on tasks.
  • Sleep disturbances like insomnia.

Steroid-induced mental illness can also present symptoms on the depressive side of the spectrum.

  • Apathy and difficulty reacting.
  • Cognitive impairments.
  • Lack of energy.
  • Sudden-onset sadness and feelings of despair.

These issues themselves can worsen in each other’s company.  Someone who is having trouble concentrating on their work can become anxious and irritable.  When they get home, their agitation may turn to fear and dread of the future.

Always be honest with your physician about any mental and emotional pain you are feeling, especially if it is proving to be a hindrance to you as you go about the business of living.

Why Do People Take Steroids?

Steroid-based medications do immense good for thousands of people every year.  They can be abused, as can any drug, but in general they serve as an important part of treatment for respiratory, endocrine, renal, allergic, and neurologic conditions.  Patients with illnesses that are or become acute, like asthma, and patients with chronic disorders like rheumatoid arthritis can find relief or achieve management of their symptoms through steroid-based treatments.

Achieving Balance

Another reason why clear, consistent communication is vital between doctor and patient is that if there are problematic side effects from steroid medication, it can manifest in different ways and needs to be dealt with differently depending on the original condition.  Sometimes adjusting the dose works; sometimes the side effects are too severe to continue the medication.  If you want to know more about how different areas of the brain interact with each other, check out our blog and contact us.