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How Trump’s coronavirus treatment may be affecting his behavior

Since he was released from the hospital on Monday night, Trump has been behaving erratically. Well, more erratically than usual. The President — who is being treated for COVID-19 — was prescribed a coronavirus medication cocktail that includes dexamethasone, a high octane steroid. Dexamethasone is known to cause reality-altering side effects in some patients, and people close to him are worried that the treatment might be affecting Trump's behavior and his judgement.

A little about this steroid: Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid in the same family as more familiar medications like prednisone and hydrocortisone. Corticosteroids work by mimicking cortisol, which is a hormone your body produces naturally. The drugs reduce the body’s inflammatory response and are usually only used to help people with severe cases of COVID-19 who require ventilators. Dexamethasone is also widely known to have some pretty scary — but probably temporary — mental and emotional side effects, like mania, euphoria, and paranoia.

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Most doctors think that only people with the most extreme cases of COVID-19 should be prescribed dexamethasone, and even then that it shouldn’t be taken early in treatment. The White House has frequently stated that Trump isn’t really that sick, so no one is exactly sure why he’s taking it. “We decided that in this case, the potential benefits early on in the course probably outweighed the risks,” White House physician Sean Conley told the Washington Post.

Conley was presumably talking about risks to Trump’s health, but in this case prescribing drugs that affect mental capacity has the potential to affect the whole country, if not the world. According to people close to the President, he has been showing signs of erratic and impulsive behavior since he started taking dexamethasone, reported CNN.

Since his release from the hospital, Trump has ridden in the car with secret service agents — which goes against CDC-mandated protocols for people who are currently sick with coronavirus symptoms, he has repeatedly downplayed the pandemic via tweet, and most importantly, he abruptly stopped talks with Democrats about a new relief and stimulus bill, reported CNN. Not only is his behavior insulting to the individuals he is putting at risk and every American who has been affected by COVID-19, but now it looks clear that no federal aid is coming for the millions of people and businesses that are currently suffering.