Adrenal fatigue is a modern term. It’s only been around for about 20 years or so, which is fairly new as health conditions go. It’s not actually a medical diagnosis per se. Rather, it describes a state in which the adrenal glands have been suffering from overstimulation for long periods of time, resulting in abnormal cortisol levels in the bloodstream. To put it simply, when a person is too stressed for too long, the body stops producing the stress hormone correctly. Sometimes you have too much, and sometimes you have too little.
Do you feel like your energy levels come and go, and that the peaks and valleys in your energy levels are higher than ever before? You may be suffering from adrenal fatigue. One doctor highlighted that the condition seems to result in little to no energy when you first wake up in the morning and then again around two in the afternoon and nine at night. On the other hand, you may get spikes in energy toward 11 am, 6 pm, and again at 11 pm if you don’t get to bed soon enough.
What Are the Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue?
If the progression of ups and downs throughout the day noted above sounds like your life, adrenal fatigue could be the problem. However, the symptoms crossover with many different health conditions, so if you go to the doctor, get ready for a lot of tests. Of course, you shouldn’t diagnose yourself at home, so this list is for informational purposes. Here are the primary symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
- More likely to have an autoimmune condition – For example, some people with adrenal fatigue also suffer from celiac disease, a condition in which the body attacks the intestines when food containing the protein gluten are ingested.
- Brain fog – You may have trouble concentrating, remembering things (especially short-term), coming up with the right word, or paying attention for long periods of time.
- Fatigue – While someone with adrenal fatigue is not always physically fatigued, this can also occur.
- Hair loss – This can be related to stress and also to the imbalance of hormones in the body.
- Weak adrenal response – Don’t expect to feel that sudden thrill while watching a scary movie. Your body just can’t produce the right hormones on command.
- Decreased libido – Sex drive decreases when the adrenals are fatigued.
- Craving salty and sweet foods
- Weight gain – Again, this is usually related to stress and abnormal cortisol levels.
- Difficulty sleeping – You have trouble falling asleep at night, waking up in the morning, and you may not sleep well throughout the night either.
- Bone or muscle loss
- Depression and anxiety
- Insulin resistance
- Skin problems
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This is a pretty extensive list, so you may not be dealing with every single symptom, or you may have all of these and some that we didn’t mention.
What Causes Adrenal Fatigue?
There are many factors that lead up to adrenal fatigue, but number one has to be prolonged stress. Whether it is work, personal, or a combination of the two, your body just can’t handle being constantly stressed. Of course, there are a number of other factors that can contribute to adrenal fatigue, such as:
- Emotional trauma – Being plagued by present or past emotional trauma and negative thoughts can keep the adrenals in a constant state of stress.
- Sleep – If you don’t get enough sleep, that stresses the body.
- Diet – Poor diet can also put stress on the body that affects endocrine function.
- Chronic pain
- Food sensitivities
- Recovery from surgery
- Dependency on stimulants or energy drinks
- Autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
Whether your adrenal fatigue is caused by stress or a combination of these other possible causes, there are unfortunately few options for relief. If your endocrine system is working at all, you won’t get diagnosed with something like Cushing’s or Addison’s. There are no medications that are prescribed for this condition, so to most doctors, that means it doesn’t really exist. So what can you do to get help if you feel like this article is all about you?
Self-Care and Supplementation for Adrenal Fatigue
First of all, you need to do what you can to take care of yourself and keep your body as healthy as possible. Here are a few ways to overcome possible causes of adrenal fatigue:
- Exercise – This can help to relieve stress.
- Reduce stress – You can’t eliminate it all but seek out less stress in your life.
- Get to bed by 10 (without the phone) – You need to be asleep before you get the next boost and are up too late.
- Reduce caffeine and other stimulants to stop the dependency.
- Avoid negative people – That also means adjusting your own thinking.
- If you have suffered emotional trauma, talk to some about it, whether a friend or a therapist.
- Take time for yourself to relax – Whether you take a nap, start a new hobby, or go for an occasional massage is up to you.
- Take supplements that can help your adrenals
Researchers have discovered that ashwagandha can actually reduce cortisol levels in the body when it is taken consistently. This may help your body to recover from adrenal fatigue or prevent you from reaching that point.
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