The side effects of the steroid medication are the same as those which occur naturally in response to injury or illness. At first, you may notice less energy, loss of appetite, weight loss, trouble sleeping, reduced sex drive. These are all signs that your body is adjusting to having fewer steroids, and it will adapt at its own pace. Gradually over weeks, these symptoms should subside until you feel normal again. Do not ever stop taking steroids without medical supervision. The withdrawal process can vary depending on how long you have been on the drugs. Still, every clinic has its protocols for tapering the dosages over time, usually over a period whereby acute withdrawal reactions are minimized. Withdrawal from anabolic/androgenic steroids can temporarily lose gains and sometimes even muscle atrophy. As with most things, the longer you have been on them, and the higher your dosage, the greater your problems will be when withdrawing. Generally, it is recommended that the duration of use should not exceed three months and that users take at least one month off after this time before undertaking another course. Many experienced anabolic steroid users have also suggested that during periods of withdrawal from steroids, it is advisable to implement selective Phyto-androgenic compounds such as HCG or Clomid to retain maximal size and strength.
The psychological effects associated with steroids can also linger long after cessation of drug use; however, these effects diminish significantly within several months for most people. The difficulty in evaluating the psychological effects of steroid use is an unfortunate result of many factors. Undoubtedly, the most significant barrier to understanding these factors comes from the simple fact that it is almost impossible to find a large enough, well-matched control group that has not used steroids. All studies conducted thus far have had understandable difficulties identifying appropriate controls for study participants who are experienced users of anabolic/androgenic steroids. This means that researchers must work with what they have, but this also presents us with some problems understanding steroid use and its associated effects.
The following list represents common psychiatric symptoms reported by individuals during periods of withdrawal from steroids: depression, mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite/weight (could be related to depression), apathy, headache, insomnia/sleep problems, reduced concentration levels, and impaired memory. It should be noted that these symptoms do not necessarily indicate that they will persist long-term or become a permanent part of the person’s psychology. This means that many of these side effects can disappear as a person psychologically adjusts to no longer taking steroids.
It is important to remember that some steroid users take their drugs out of the competition to avoid detection by doping control authorities. Individuals who use this approach may experience very different withdrawal syndromes because they use lower dosages than those used during pre-contest phases or when aiming for rapid increases in size and strength (known as the cycling of steroids). This means that the adverse psychological effects of withdrawals may not be as great magnitude as those experienced by pre-contest and contest bodybuilders; however, this does not mean that their problems will be trivial or easy to deal with.
It is also important to remember that some of the psychological symptoms associated with steroid withdrawal can be related to factors other than simply ceasing anabolic/androgenic steroid use (e.g., illness, outside stressors, relationship problems); often, it can be challenging to ascertain precisely what has caused what symptom(s) during the process of recovery from prolonged steroid use. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind, though, that for most men who have used AAS over extended periods, the psychological effects associated with withdrawals can be just as much if not more unpleasant than their physiological effects.
I have looked over countless studies on the topic of steroid use, and one cannot help but notice how very few have dealt with any serious attempt at withdrawal issues. I would suggest that it is only now, following nearly 50 years of scientific investigation into steroids, that we are finally uncovering data describing some potential solutions to this issue. There are also dozens upon dozens of anecdotal reports by many experienced bodybuilders who state pretty plainly that once they discovered what was required to withdraw from steroids successfully, they never had problems doing so again. Also, keep in mind that every individual must find their solution to these problems; there are no magic bullets or secret tricks that will solve your withdrawal problems for you.
The following is a list of suggestions and factors to consider while attempting to withdraw from anabolic/androgenic steroid use:
* Keep in mind that any steroid-induced psychological symptoms can and often do persist beyond the point of physical withdrawal. This means that even if we fully detox our system, we may still have residual psychological issues which must be dealt with, or they could become problematic later on (e.g., leading us back to AAS use). Therefore, if possible, it would be advised to stay away from steroids long enough. All physiological markers of AAS use are no longer detectable; this might be more difficult than it sounds depending on the substance(s) used, but it is an excellent general guideline.
* The probability and severity of experiencing withdrawal symptoms seem to be strongly related to how long we were on AAS and the dosage we took; however, there are reports of individuals who use very high dosages yet still do not experience any significant problems. This may have something to do with just how sensitive some people are to testosterone or other forms of AAS, or maybe they had more effective coping strategies than others.
* It is important to note that almost every person I have read about regarding steroid withdrawal increased his dosage at least once, if not several times, before completely stopping anabolic/rogenic steroid use. Therefore, if you are going to be on steroids for any length of time, the best way to avoid withdrawal symptoms is to start using them at a very low dosage and only increase it once you’ve learned how your body reacts.
* For some individuals, their fear of experiencing steroid withdrawal symptoms may lead them back onto AAS; this must be kept in mind even during successful withdrawals. This means that if one fears these symptoms too much, he may end up subjecting himself to repeated cycles of use and abuse, which can potentially exacerbate many of the problems associated with anabolic/androgenic steroid use (e.g., hypertension, equilibrium problems) or cause new ones altogether (e.g., liver damage). Take this into consideration, plan accordingly, and do not place yourself in a position where the possibility of being psychologically trapped once again is likely.
* It has been reported that some individuals who have experienced lousy steroid withdrawal symptoms can withdraw again if they begin using “steroid-replacement therapy successfully” (e.g., testosterone). Whether or not this sort of treatment can help, we will see, but regardless it gives us good insight into how one might go about dealing with withdrawal issues; irrespective of whether you’re on steroids or not, there is still no substitute for common sense and experience.
* Another primary consideration is that it is not uncommon to feel hostile towards the people closest to you during withdrawals, including your family members. This can be especially problematic if your significant other encourages you to use AAS or doesn’t care if you do; keep this in mind and try to work out any relationship problems ASAP. For example, suppose they don’t play ball. In that case, it may be best for both of you to separate for some time because an angry spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend can make things incredibly difficult – not only are they probably going through withdrawal symptoms themselves, but chances are they will try their best to take advantage of the situation to get you back on steroids somehow.
* Another symptom of steroid withdrawal is depression. During this period, it may be best to have a close friend or family member stay with you for a while because if you’re going through the misery of AAS withdrawals, then chances are there will be some low periods as well. Make sure that, if possible, no matter how trivial they seem at the time, every significant decision you make during withdrawals is made with someone else’s input.
* Finally, certain nutritional supplements – especially high-vitamin B supplementation – may make your experience much more bearable. This isn’t to say these supplements help withdrawal symptoms, but many people report feeling much better when taking them. If nothing else, make sure to get plenty of rest and try these supplements for a few days during the worst of your withdrawals because you may feel better. Furthermore, since AAS use can disrupt specific bodily processes, steroid users highly recommend taking vitamin supplements during their post-cycle recovery period.
* The most important thing to remember about steroid withdrawal is that common sense and patience prevail. Although there will always be some people who have terrible experiences when coming off anabolic steroids, this is not the norm, so don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Furthermore, steroid use is a perishable skill. Once you’ve learned how to manage duration, dose, and form properly, there’s no reason why regular injections or oral cycles will decrease your natural testosterone production significantly. In addition, although hormone levels will eventually normalize even years after steroid use, they will continuously cycle to some degree.
* Keep as close as you can to your regular daily routine as possible (provided it’s a healthy one) during withdrawals; taking time off work, staying in bed, and isolating yourself from society are all awful ideas. It is essential to continue carrying out your regular duties as well as you can – it may not be easy at first, but if you can keep your cool until things get better, you’ll be okay.
* Furthermore, an altered daily routine during withdrawal periods seems to cause more problems than it solves; for example, getting up early may seem like a good idea (because nighttime is when many people are likely to have the most vivid dreams). Still, it may exacerbate depression. Furthermore, if you’re an evening person, then forcing yourself out of bed at 8-9 am every day will not only wholly disrupt your sleeping cycle, but the chances are that even after your hormones normalize, you’ll make getting up early a regular part of your schedule – meaning you’ll be tired again.
* Knowing how to achieve and maintain a state of homeostasis takes time. Don’t rush this process because steroid withdrawal symptoms can worsen exponentially, especially if they become stress-related. The good news is that once everything returns to normal within 1-2 months, all bodily processes will get back on track eventually – sometimes sooner rather than later.
* Keep in mind that everybody is different. As such, some people may experience no noticeable withdrawal symptoms at all – or they may be very minimal and easy to control with a few lifestyle adjustments. The same can be said of those who experience major depression and anxiety after quitting AAS; within 1-To 2 weeks, the worst of their problems will likely subside, but it’s tough knowing that if your friend was able to cope just fine, then chances are you should be able too. So instead of dwelling on this topic, you should focus on the positives: steroid use is over now, so there’ll no longer be any mood swings or changes in behavior! You’ve made a brilliant decision by quitting anabolic steroids, and soon everything will be back to normal – meaning you can get on with your life and enjoy the benefits of a healthy body.
* The use of supplements such as protein shakes, omega fatty acids, multi-vitamins, milk thistle, and antioxidants is recommended during steroid withdrawal periods because they help replenish nutrients lost through steroid use. Additionally, make sure to take plenty of rest, exercise regularly but moderately (especially if you’re experiencing depression), eat healthy food, drink at least 2 liters of water every day (dehydration causes withdrawal symptoms), and avoid smoking or drinking too much alcohol. If possible, try to maintain a positive outlook by getting plenty of sun exposure and engaging in other enjoyable physical activities. Remember: if your mood slips, don’t be afraid to ask for help!
* If you still experience severe symptoms after two months, then there’s a chance your natural hormone production is to blame – in which case you should visit a doctor. Symptoms of underactive testosterone production include loss of libido, fatigue, muscle mass atrophy, testicular shrinkage, decreased facial/body hair growth, etc. Other physical signs that may require medical attention are enlarged breasts (in men), shrunken testes, infertility problems, etc. Although Western medicine can never guarantee success when treating low testosterone levels, it has many drugs that stimulate or substitute the hormone’s activity in the body. These ‘replacement therapies do not cure the underlying cause, but they help alleviate the condition.
* If you are in doubt, then seek professional advice. Remember that not all doctors are equal in terms of knowledge, training, and skill: some will be more knowledgeable than others about steroid use – in general, it’s best to avoid endocrinologists, for example, because many know nothing at all about PEDs even though they prescribe HRT medications. A good GP should be able to provide almost everything you need without visiting a specialist. However, if your doctor is clueless about steroids or has never counseled someone coming off them before, then you may have no choice but to visit an endocrinologist, etc., who can test your hormonal profile through blood work. It goes without saying that if you have any reason to believe your doctor is incompetent, then seek a second opinion. Alternatively, contact one of the many online forums that offer excellent advice regarding steroid cessation.
* Unfortunately, it’s impossible to determine whether or not your body will completely recover from steroid use because every person is unique – but there are ways to speed up the process. One way is to consider hiring an anti-estrogen medication such as Nolvadex for four weeks at the end of your cycle (or even during pct). These drugs prevent natural testosterone breakdown via aromatase, thereby increasing receptor site sensitivity and helping maintain gains. It also increases levels of SHBG, which binds more testosterone in the blood, causing greater concentrations of free testosterone.
Another way is to hire a SERM for four weeks during pct. These drugs prevent aromatase activity by binding to its receptor sites without inhibiting other enzymes, preventing excess estrogen production. They also maintain receptor site sensitivity and enhance free testosterone concentrations in blood. Clomid is the most popular choice because it shows little evidence of engaging with other enzyme systems, whereas Nolvadex engages with others – but both are effective. If you can afford to hire both, the results will be optimal!
Regardless of the steroid(s) or combination of steroids used, one universal truth remains: all steroid users who wish to stop taking anabolic/androgenic agents must go through a pct. However, this does not need to last as long as a complete cycle and can be shortened substantially by engaging in the above activities.
It’s also essential to bear in mind that steroids have been linked to many diseases of which you may already be aware – cancers, heart disease, etc. Still, there are other severe conditions connected to steroid use. For example, men who take anabolic/androgenic agents frequently experience irreversible testicular shrinkage because high levels of circulating female hormones reduce testosterone production in testes; this eventually leads to infertility problems. Another side effect is low sperm count due to impaired spermatogenesis (sperm cell formation) originating indigo cells. Women who take steroids are also at risk for infertility problems, including ovarian cysts, masculinization (development of male physical characteristics), amenorrhoea (absence of menstruation), and virilization (development of male sexual features). Steroids may also contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases – conditions in which an individual’s immune system attacks its cells.
If you’re not sure whether or not you should stop taking steroids, then seek medical advice!