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Mental Health Center

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Chris Benoit: Was Roid Rage to Blame?

Pro Wrestler's Alleged Murder-Suicide Spurs Questions About Roid Rage and Anabolic Steroids

Could anabolic steroids account for severely violent acts?

Yes. It's been implicated in a number of murders and can result in extreme aberrations of behavior including the taking of one's life.

Another thing you have to be mindful of -- it may unmask an underlying psychiatric disorder that has been basically kept in check until the individual is exposed to this category of drugs. And so what you may be seeing is unmasked psychiatric disorder.

Are there some people who may be particularly vulnerable to roid rage?

I don't know if that's been studied, but certainly, I would be concerned about those who are on steroids for a long time on a high dose. There seems to be some correlation that the higher the dose, the greater the likelihood of having roid rage.

What is the difference between anabolic and corticosteroids?

The way I like to say it is it's the difference between John Smith and Mary Smith. They're both Smiths, but they couldn't be more different.

Anabolic steroids mean steroids that build muscle, retain protein, and corticosteroids are so-called catabolic. They break down tissue. They're basically used for anti-inflammatory effects. People on corticosteroids for any length of time, you'll see them actually get muscle weakness. Their body will go through changes which are quite the opposite of what you see with anabolic steroids.

I don't believe that the shorthand-word "steroids" should ever be used because the public has been confused, and many people who are taking corticosteroids for a variety of medical illnesses are of the belief that they're going to get all these horrible side effects that people talk about in terms of anabolic steroids.

So people who are taking corticosteroids for legitimate medical reasons like asthma or arthritis -- they have no need to be concerned?

Corticosteroids have a lot of side effects, but they're not the side effects we see with anabolic steroids. They have their own unique set of side effects.

Aren't there some people who experience temperament changes while they're on corticosteroids?

They can be irritable. They can have difficulty sleeping, for example.

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