Exhausted and Stressed: The Silent Epidemic of Adrenal Fatigue

January 24, 2023

Do you relate to any of the following:

  • Always tired no matter how much sleep you get?
  • Depend on coffee or energy drinks just to get through the day?
  • Unexplainable weight gain?
  • Deal with brain fog all day?

If you answered “yes” to any, or all of these questions, there’s a good chance that you may be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue. 

Most people see these questions and answer “yeah but that’s normal” or “that’s just part of life” but guess what, it’s not! Feeling anything less than your best isn’t normal and most people never even consider that there might be something off in their body because these feelings are so common that we believe it’s normal.

Adrenal fatigue isn’t “normal”, but it is one of the most common problems that the adult population in the U.S. suffers from silently, unknowingly. Adrenal Fatigue is a form of adrenal gland dysfunction caused by the body’s inability to keep up its response to chronic stress in daily life. 

To understand Adrenal Fatigue, you must first understand the normal function of the adrenal glands.

Adrenal Gland Function

The Adrenal glands are responsible for producing certain hormones that maintain and regulate different body functions, including the evolutionary “fight-or-flight” response that has kept humans alive for thousands of years. 

When the body is exposed to a situation perceived as stressful, it stimulates the adrenal glands to produce and release more Cortisol and Adrenaline. These hormones cause changes in the body in an attempt to prepare for survival. 

Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenaline increases heart rate, elevates blood pressure, and boosts energy supplied to the body.

Cortisol increases blood sugar levels, sharpens brain function and reflexes, and reduces body functions that it deems nonessential or harmful to survival, including the Immune System, Digestive System, and Reproductive System. This hormone also communicates with regions of the brain that control mood, motivation, and fear to alter rational thought process and decision-making and impair declarative memory. 

Have you ever been in a really stressful or scary situation, and then afterwards when you try to tell the story of what happened to a friend you suddenly can’t remember certain details? That’s the result of Cortisol’s effect on your declarative memory during the situation.

So all of this so far sounds great right? Our bodies have developed this evolutionary response that has kept the human species alive throughout the centuries so that we are all here today, that’s amazing! But we don’t live in caves and fight to survive each day anymore. Our stress comes from everyday life, and often hits us constantly throughout the day.

So what is Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal Fatigue is the result of overworked adrenal glands trying to keep up with the chronic stress many adults experience every day. Just like any other organ or muscle in the body, the adrenal glands can get tired. 

You overwork a muscle? You get a tired and sore muscle.

You overwork your brain? You get exhausted and feel mentally drained.

You overwork your lungs? You get out of breath.

So what happens when you live with chronic stress and try to push through every day and ignore the stress? Your adrenal glands work twice as hard to produce and release hormones into the body in an attempt to “survive” what it feels is a stressful situation. Eventually they can’t keep up their production of these hormones to meet the body’s needs, they become fatigued and unable to produce even normal amounts of these hormones required to maintain balance during non-stressful times.

Causes of Adrenal Fatigue

Everyone has a different perspective regarding what is important, stressful, enjoyable, etc. Something that may be a stress trigger to one person might be enjoyable to another, that’s why there is no definitive cause that all people experience adrenal fatigue. But years of research has been able to determine quite a few common factors or situations that people with adrenal fatigue recognize as their stress triggers.

Common causes of Adrenal Fatigue include:

  • Money - financial hardships or the desire to gain financial success are the #1 most common causes of stress in the United States
  • Work - difficult, fast-paced, demanding, and high output jobs 
  • Grief, the loss of a loved one
  • Traumatic experiences
  • Societal pressures
  • Busy lifestyles
  • Poor diet, food sensitivities
  • Chronic illnesses, recurrent infections
  • Relationship difficulties, divorce, custody battles

Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

The hormonal imbalance in the body results in a variety of symptoms that can become increasingly severe the longer the imbalance occurs. Unfortunately many of these symptoms are misdiagnosed by medical providers that are not experienced in hormonal imbalances and often treat specific symptoms their patient is suffering from, instead of treating the underlying condition that is causing the symptoms to begin with.

Common symptoms may include:

  1. Chronic fatigue
  2. Caffeine dependency
  3. Unexplained weight gain, especially around the stomach
  4. Anxiety, depression, irritability
  5. Brain fog, poor memory
  6. Insomnia, poor quality of sleep 
  7. Low sex drive, Erectile Dysfunction in men, Vaginal Dryness in women
  8. Hypertension
  9. Heart palpitations 
  10. Hormonal imbalances
  11. Hashimoto’s
  12. Low testosterone
  13. Infertility in men and women
  14. Muscle pain, tension
  15. Panic attacks
  16. Gastric ulcers, IBS
  17. Chronic headaches
  18. High cholesterol
  19. Weakened immune system
  20. Insulin resistance, Metabolic syndrome, Diabetes

Adrenal fatigue can be categorized into 4 stages based on what symptoms a person is experiencing and how severe those symptoms are. Treatment and recovery from Adrenal Fatigue can vary based on the stage of symptoms a person is experiencing. 

How do I prevent or treat Adrenal Fatigue?

There are many easy ways to manage and reduce stress to help prevent your adrenal glands from becoming overworked and fatigued.

  1. Decrease the stress - of course the first, and most important, step is to determine what is causing you stress and make a plan to reduce it. This can also be the most difficult step because oftentimes the cause of someone’s stress is something extremely important to them. Decreasing stress doesn’t have to mean quitting your job or giving up on making enough money to buy a new house. It can be something more simple, like talking to your boss to figure out a less stressful way to accomplish your work or sticking to a set budget that will help you save for a downpayment on a new home.
  2. Eating a healthy diet - eating a nutrient-rich diet and avoiding difficult to process foods can reduce stress on your digestive system and supply your body with essential vitamins and nutrients needed for optimal function.
  3. Taking an Adrenal support supplement - these supplements contain essential vitamins and adaptogenic herbs designed to supply adrenal glands with the specific nutrients they need to maintain optimal hormone production and function correctly.
  4. Rest - lack of sleep puts a lot of stress on the body. Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night and be consistent with a sleep schedule to reduce Cortisol levels, stabilize adrenal function, and give your body the rest it needs to function at its best for you.
  5. Low impact exercise - exercise releases endorphins that promote relaxation. Doing a form of low impact exercise keeps the body in a stress-free state while still improving overall health and wellness. Consider yoga, pilates, and walking.
  6. Drink ½ your bodyweight in water - Hydration is essential for Endocrine system health and function. Hormone-producing glands function better when the body is healthy and hydrated. So if you’re 130lbs, you should be drinking a minimum of 65oz of water every day.
  7. IV Vitamin Therapy - Let’s be honest, food choices in grocery stores are nowhere near as nutrient rich as they were 20 years ago. Unless you grow the spinach in your own garden and eat the leaf right off the stem immediately, you’re probably not getting the full nutritional value you think. Vitamins are broken down by heat, air, and acid. So by the time you’re done sautéing it up, chewing and swallowing, and digesting it the actual amount of vitamins and antioxidants that makes it into your bloodstream is probably less than half what you think. IV Vitamin therapy is such a valuable treatment that we have available to us as a way of feeding our body the essential vitamins and minerals it craves. By administering the vitamin complex directly into the bloodstream, you are offering your body 100% of the vitamins and antioxidants it needs to maintain optimal function. The Endocrine system requires many of these vitamins, especially B vitamins, to balance hormone levels throughout the body.
  8. Relaxation techniques - Aromatherapy, breathing techniques, relaxing hobbies or activities, meditation, whatever brings you peace and relaxation. If you never take the time to relax and release the tension and stress of the day, you won’t be able to give your adrenal glands the rest they need.

These steps are also essential in recovering from this condition and giving your adrenal glands what they need to heal from the damage caused by overexertion. This functional style of treatment works to repair the underlying cause of the symptoms someone may be experiencing rather than just prescribing medications designed to mask those symptoms without treating the cause. 

Adrenal Fatigue is commonly misdiagnosed since its characteristic symptoms closely relate to other conditions, so it is important to find a medical provider experienced in hormonal imbalances and adrenal gland function to receive treatment geared towards healing the adrenal glands and reducing the chances of experiencing symptoms in the future.

If you are experiencing symptoms that you think could be related to Adrenal Fatigue, or if you need help recovering from Adrenal Fatigue, give us a call at 352-512-9996 or schedule your free hormone screening here so we can help you start your journey towards optimal health and wellness.

Written by: Bailey

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