Side effects of corticosteroid therapy. Psychiatric aspects

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1981 Apr;38(4):471-7. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.1981.01780290105011.


We reviewed the literature to determine the characteristics of corticosteroid-induced mental disturbances. We conclude that (1) while dosage may be correlated to the risk of developing mental disturbances, neither dosage nor duration of treatment seems to affect the time of onset, duration, severity, or type of mental disturbances; (2) euphoria, depression, and psychotic reactions are the common manifestations of corticosteroid-induced mental disturbances; (3) females seem to be more prone to these disturbances than males; (4) patients with past mental illness are not necessarily predisposed to such disturbances; and (5) corticosteroid-induced mental disturbances are usually reversible on dose reduction or discontinuation of the drug. At present there are no simple models to explain the psychotic reactions, anxiety, or agitation seen in corticosteroid-induced mental disturbances.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / adverse effects*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk
  • Sex Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / etiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones