Physical appearance concerns are uniquely associated with the severity of steroid dependence and depression in anabolic-androgenic steroid users

Physical appearance concerns are uniquely associated with the severity of steroid dependence and depression in anabolic-androgenic steroid users / Scott Griffiths, Brendan Jacka, Louisa Degenhardt, Stuart B Murray, Briony Larance. - (Drug and Alcohol Review 37 (2018) 5 (July); p. 664-670)

  • PMID: 29484740
  • DOI: 10.1111/dar.12688


Introduction and aims: Emerging research suggests that the sub-population of anabolic-androgenic steroid (AAS) users who experience physical appearance concerns may suffer greater psychological dysfunction than other sub-populations, including users with athletic or occupational concerns. Thus, among current AAS users, we sought to determine whether, and to what extent, social physique anxiety-an established measure of appearance concern-was associated with psychological dysfunction.

Design and methods: Interviews were conducted with a sample of 74 male AAS users living in Australia. Users completed self-report instruments of the severity of AAS dependence, depression, hazardous and risky drinking, use of non-AAS illicit drugs, psychological side-effects due to AAS use and abnormal test results due to AAS use.

Results: Multivariate analyses revealed that greater social physique anxiety was uniquely associated with more severe symptoms of both AAS dependence and depression. Moreover, the effect size of these relationships was large. Social physique anxiety was not associated with hazardous or risky drinking, non-AAS illicit drug use, psychological side-effects or abnormal test results.

Discussion and conclusions: Limitations notwithstanding, the study is consistent with the notion that AAS users who experience appearance concerns are at heightened risk of co-morbid psychological dysfunction. Given trends indicating an increase in the prevalence of AAS use in Australia and elsewhere, the findings suggest that health-care systems may need to consider prioritising the sub-population of AAS users who experience appearance concerns. Further investigation of the clinical syndrome of AAS dependence is required, including its relation to body image and eating disorders.

Original document


Research / Study
27 February 2018
Degenhardt, Louisa
Griffiths, Scott
Jacka, Brendan
Larance, Briony
Murray, Stuart B.
United States of America
Other organisations
University of California (UC)
University of Melbourne
University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney)
Doping classes
S1. Anabolic Agents
Medical terms
Addiction / dependence
Body image
Mental disorders
Document category
Scientific article
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Pdf file
Date generated
4 May 2021
Date of last modification
2 December 2021
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