Why are you so tired?
#Adrenal fatigue has become quite a popular term online but it is a very real problem affecting millions of people. The reason that I can say this with such confidence is that it arises from the bodies own natural stress response. I believe that adrenal fatigue is actually a spectrum, while not everyone has the most severe case (burn out) many people may have a milder form and not be aware of it.
Essentially, what we are looking at here, is an erroneous response to stress signals, sometimes too strong a response, other times not enough of a response. In order to understand this better lets look at the stress response.
We have a ‘fight or flight’ response that causes a physiological (body) response to situations that our brain thinks are stressful. At first the brain causes the adrenal glands to release adrenaline, which has many effects such as revving up our heart and preparing muscles for action. Then if the stress persists, the brain stimulates the adrenals to produce cortisol, which has a more long lasting effect. Cortisol is a glucocorticoid hormone, and like ‘cortisone’ it has an anti inflammatory effect (initially) and also mobilizes blood sugar in case the body need energy. However, if the adrenal glands are ‘left switched on’ for too long, cortisol may start to have a detrimental effect on the metabolism and even become pro-inflammatory. This, coupled with the other hormones that the adrenal glands synthesize (which can be produced in inappropriate amounts) begins to explain the symptom picture often seen in chronic stress (adrenal fatigue).
So lets look at the symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue. The most common is chronic tiredness, often in the morning and in the late afternoon. But, as this is a syndrome, there are many other symptoms, and a person may not have all of them. These include:
– muscle tension and pains,
– difficulty coping with stress
– anxiety and depression
– metabolic problems – weight gain, or even insulin resistance
– hormonal imbalances (the adrenals can produce estrogens in men and androgens in women)
– digestive issues- cortisol and adrenalin have detrimental effects on digestion
– hair loss
– frequent or recurrent infections
– reduced libido
– food cravings
– aggravation of allergies
– difficulties with memory and / or concentration.
As we know the most common cause, stress, it should be easy to treat? Remove the stress.
This happens to be one of the most important and significant changes that these people can make, however it may also be one of the most difficult. Some stressors are not easy to change (e.g. a bad boss or a difficult marriage), others may involve changing ourselves and our own perceptions (e.g. sometimes we might be too driven, perfectionistic or negative). Deep stuff!
But there are lots of tablets available! Even over the counter?
While supplements can certainly help, they need to be appropriate. Most over the counter adrenal remedies are aimed at boosting people in some fashion. They want to sell product, and they do that by promising people energy. However, it is not always a good idea to rev up an already stressed and tired adrenal gland. This rarely works in the long term. I often find it necessary to calm the glands down, to slow the nervous system down, in order to give it a chance to recharge. And remember sleeping problems tend to aggravate the issue. Is is essential that a person is getting a good nights sleep.
Basically, what we need to strive for here is to bring that person back into balance, while considering or addressing the factors that allowed them to become so run down in the first place.