Steroids also affect the brain, and high doses can make people feel happy, euphoric, hyped-up, with disturbance of sleep and even serious psychiatric illness such as mania, very aggressive behavior and psychosis (delusions, pananoia, loss of touch with reality). If steroid users are also taking other drugs which affect mood or brain function, these side-effects can be far more common.
Steroids are really useful in the care of those with advanced cancer when short life expectancy from their condition means physicians are far more relaxed about long term side-effects.
Brain tumours often respond dramatically to steroids. The reason is that the brain is contained in a bony box inside the skull and pressure can build up inside the head, resulting in headaches, sickness, drowsiness and other problems. Brain scans often show that a tunour the size of a wallnut can be surrounded by a big immune reaction, with brain swelling and inflammation. Steroids reduce the additional swelling, often reversing symptoms and buying time - maybe a few weeks. The underlying cancer continues to grow and if the person finally begins to deteriorate death often follows rapidly as the steroid dose is reduced.
So steroids are really powerful, with wide ranges of actions, producing dramatic effects ranging from pain relief to mood elevation, and if it were not for the very serious side effects they would be used even more often.
The body becomes dependent on steroids and when used in health care, most physicians reduce dosage gradually, even though they may start in an acute illness with a very high dose.