Anabolic steroids are synthetic derivatives of the male hormone testosterone. College athletes are at greatest risk of abusing steroids, since some seek the substances to improve performance. Steroids are taken orally or injected, and are usually taken in cycles of weeks or months, rather than continuously. The term cycling refers to taking multiple doses of steroids over a specific period of time, stopping for a period, and starting again.
The major side effects of steroid use include liver tumors, jaundice (yellowish pigmentation of skin, tissues, and body fluids), fluid retention, high blood pressure, severe acne, and trembling. For men, other problems include shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, development of breasts. For women, other difficulties include growth of facial hair, changes in or cessation of the menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris, and deepened voice.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse research on steroids shows an increase in aggression and other psychiatric side effects may result from steroid abuse. Wild mood swings that lead to violent, even homicidal episodes have been reported. Depression is often associated with when the steroid user stops and may contribute to steroid dependency.