Glucocorticoids, widely prescribed to reduce inflammation in people with asthma and other autoimmune disorders, are associated with reductions in white matter, the connective tissue in the brain that plays a key role in cognitive function.
Anabolic steroids are harmful because they can lead to long-term problems with the brain's structure and function. These changes in the brain can affect behavior, personality, decision-making, mood, or memory.
These findings suggest that administration of high doses of exogenous prednisone may facilitate the experience of negative emotion and shifts in frontal EEG activity, and impair some aspects of cognitive functioning in humans. The multiple roles of glucocorticoids in memory, attention and emotion are discussed.
Memory impairment associated with steroid use has been identified in a new study. The University of Bristol-led findings, published in PNAS, show great potential for the identification of drugs that could be adapted to treat certain memory disorders.
Sacks and Shulman  reported a 72-year-old patient who developed severe dementia after taking an increased dosage of prednisolone for at least 3 months but resolved after discontinuing medication.
It has also been well established that corticosteroid medications can occasionally cause mental disturbances and impairments in memory performance that are reversible.
Dementia-like symptoms have been found in some individuals who have been exposed to glucocorticoid medication, often dispensed in the form of asthma, arthritis, and anti-inflammatory steroid medications. The condition reverses, but not always completely, within months after steroid treatment is stopped.
This depends on your health problem or condition. You may only need a short course of prednisolone for up to 1 week. You may need to take it for longer, even for many years or the rest of your life.
Systemic use of steroids was associated with a larger caudate, while use of inhaled steroids was associated with a smaller amygdala. Both of these gray-matter brain structures are involved in the processing of thoughts, memories and emotions.
Other potential side effects—like vision problems and osteoporosis —may be permanent.
Glucocorticoids induced Osteoporosis is one of the well-known and devastating adverse effects of long-term use of glucocorticoids. Up to 40% of patients on long-term glucocorticoids develop bone loss leading to fractures.
High glucocorticoid levels can cause lasting alterations to the plasticity and structural integrity of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, and this mechanism may plausibly contribute to impaired memory and cognition in critical illness survivors, though specific evidence is lacking.
In contrast, life expectancy was shortest for patients receiving systemic steroids: 11.7 years for females and 10.3 years for males meaning that females and males taking systemic steroids could expect to live to 76.7 and 75.3 years of age, respectively.
Prednisone controls inflammation by suppressing our immune system and is four times more potent than cortisol at decreasing inflammation. However, prolonged use can cause immunosuppression, muscle wasting, bone changes, fluid shifts, and personality changes.
Unfortunately, it's unlikely that anything currently available could replace it completely, but some drugs are also sometimes used to reduce dependence on prednisone. They include methotrexate, Arava, and the anti-TNF drugs such as Enbrel, Humira, and Remicade.
Treatment extending longer than three months is considered long term and results in the majority of severe side effects. When steroids are used for short durations of a few days or weeks, they are relatively safe.
Fluid retention is one of prednisone's most famous side effects. “'Moon face' is common, which is swelling in the face that can occur after you've been on steroids for a long time,” Dr. Ford notes. “You can also get swelling in the legs and midsection.”
Facial hair growth (especially in women); high blood pressure and other cardiovascular effects; an increased appetite which may result in weight gain; slow skin healing and skin thinning; osteoporosis (brittle bones); the onset of diabetes; and stomach ulcers are associated with moderate-to-long term use.