Are you one of the thousands of people who have gone to a doctor with lackluster energy, low moods, and chronic ailments only to be passed off as mildly depressed and prescribed medications? Have these medications only made you feel slightly better? There are many people frustrated because they can’t pin down why they are suffering symptoms that are starting to impact their quality of life. Although the medical professionals are now acknowledging the major role stress plays in health not many have heard about adrenal fatigue or have a strong understanding of how to address it.
Adrenal fatigue is rarely diagnosed, however, it is a growing problem due to chronic stress, accumulative stress, lack of sleep and poor diet. Those suffering with adrenal fatigue tend to feel anxious, depressed, confused, less tolerant, powerless and easily frustrated. They hate mornings and perk up after supper. Life feels overwhelming and out of control. They use coffee, sugar, salt and alcohol for energy and comfort and suffer from low blood sugar symptoms such as feeling the jitters and brain fog. Other symptoms of adrenal fatigue can be as follows:
- jumpy (especially with loud noises)
- waking up feeling unrested
- feeling you are not coping well
- salt cravings
- caffeine and chocolate cravings
- chronic pain and fatigue
- tense shoulders
- fat accumulating around gut area
- chronic allergy and sinus problems
- smells are strong and irritating
- no tolerance or patience with the people around you
- excessive thinking and worrying
- premature aging of skin
- thyroid issues
- vulnerable to accidents
When we are exposed to stress our hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) is activated which tells our adrenal glands to excrete the hormone, cortisol, in order to give us the energy we need to deal with whatever situation that is putting us at risk. It has been dubbed the fight-or-flight activation. In today’s world instead of fighting or running from dangerous situations, these glands are commonly used for responding to crisis or life’s demands. When the stress goes away the HPA axis is deactivated, the adrenal glands stop releasing cortisol and we feel a need to rejuvenate and rest. Unfortunately due to relentless pressures, unexpected losses and never-ending task lists there is little time for recovery. Eventually the HPA axis and adrenal glands can’t keep up with the demand of cortisol and our life events become very difficult to manage.
Health issues also arise when there is no recovery period: “The prolonged state of stress causes the adrenal cortex or outer layer of the adrenal gland to become enlarged, important lymph nodes to shrink, and the stomach and intestines to become irritated. The adrenal system eventually “crashes” and forces the victim into a state of prolonged and severe fatigue.” – (Adrenaline and Stress, 1991). By the time you are experiencing adrenal fatigue, your body is in a danger zone which requires a major overhaul of your lifestyle. Stress management is essential to a healthy adrenal system and most importantly your emotional health. Many do not take into account how traumatic childhood experiences have also attributed to an over-activated HPA axis and adrenal system. Accumulative stress is a major factor in adrenal fatigue.
The wait-and-see-what-manifests approach is not a good plan when you are overdrawn in your cortisol supply. Symptoms may be not be taking seriously or worse, misdiagnosed as something else. Therefore adrenal fatigue does not get addressed and the sufferer feels hopeless and helpless in regards to their health and life. In my book, Eating Myself Crazy, I provide strategies to deal with adrenal fatigue and how they can be easily implemented into your life today. Our modern lifestyle sets us up for adrenal fatigue, however, we still have the power to deal with it depending on the changes we are willing to make.