If exhaustion is disrupting your life and you find it hard to get out of bed in the morning and function properly all day, you may be experiencing adrenal fatigue. According to Dr. James Wilson, who first recognized adrenal fatigue as an actual health condition in 1998, nearly 80 percent of people living in industrialized nations may be experiencing adrenal fatigue. Unfortunately, the mainstream medical community does not yet recognize this as a true health condition so the majority of people go undiagnosed and untreated.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue occurs when the adrenal glands – the two glands located above the kidneys – are overworked and no longer function properly. The adrenal glands are responsible for the secretion of over 50 hormones including dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisol, estrogen and testosterone. When the body is stressed, the adrenal glands release cortisol to raise energy levels and prepare the body to handle the stress. The glands also secrete the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine which are known as the ‘fight-or-flight’ hormones which cause the body to react to stress with symptoms of a fast heart beat, quickening of breath and increased awareness.
If a person is experiencing chronic high stress, the adrenal glands can no longer keep up and produce these essential hormones in order to conquer fatigue, depression and weakness. Women in the midst of perimenopause and menopause are also at a higher risk of developing adrenal fatigue because of the extreme changes in hormone secretion. In fact, according to Dr. Mehemit Oz, cardiologist, author and television physician, women in general are more likely to experience adrenal fatigue. With the busy lives women lead between work, home and kids, the constant stress leads to extreme exhaustion.
Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue
In the majority of cases of adrenal fatigue, the patient usually states she has experienced some form of stress-related incident that seemed to cause the onset of the condition. A death in the family, job loss, financial troubles, an illness in the family or some other type of major stress may preclude adrenal fatigue. For others, it may occur due to the constant stress of everyday life.
There are several symptoms that are associated with adrenal fatigue. Having one or two of the symptoms does not mean you have the condition. However, if you experience several of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor for a diagnosis. Sometimes another condition, such as Cushing’s Syndrome or Addison’s Disease, may be causing the symptoms. A doctor will be able to rule out other causes before diagnosing adrenal fatigue.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Inability to function properly before 10:00 a.m.
- Mild depression
- Salt and fat cravings
- Sugar cravings
- Mood swings
- Concentration problems
- Lowered immune system
- Lack of energy
- Weakness of the muscles
- Low blood pressure
- Low sex drive
- Weight gain in the abdominal area
- Feeling overwhelmed
Treatment for Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal fatigue is treated easily by making a few lifestyle changes; eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and including some form of exercise in your life. Learning ways to lower stress in your life is one of the main ways to combat adrenal fatigue. Learn to say no to extra demands, find ways to manage your time more efficiently and ask for help when you are overwhelmed. Trying meditation or yoga can also help lower the amount of stress your body feels.
The foods you eat can also help alleviate symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Avoid foods high in salt, fat and sugar. Also, avoid simple carbohydrates, chocolate, caffeine and alcohol. Instead, eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and fiber. These types of food build up your energy and will help alleviate fatigue unlike high fat and high carbohydrate foods that weigh you down and make you tired.
Daily exercise is another way to build up your strength and help you battle stress in a healthy way. Try walking, biking, swimming or playing a sport at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
Adding some vitamin and mineral supplements may also assist in treating adrenal fatigue. Vitamins and minerals that will help alleviate adrenal fatigue include:
- Vitamin C – 2,000 mg per day
- Vitamin E – 800 IUs per day
- Vitamin B-Complex
- Magnesium citrate – 400 to 800 mg per day
- Niacin – 125 mg per day
Adrenal fatigue does not have to take over your life. If you suspect you have adrenal fatigue, see a doctor for a proper diagnosis. Make changes to your diet and lifestyle to also alleviate your fatigue. You can conquer adrenal fatigue and get back to feeling healthy again.
Stephanie Dearing “WHO recognizes adrenal fatigue syndrome as real ailment” Digital Journal
Dr. Oz “Dr. Oz Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome” Healthy Body Daily
Vicki Wade, PharmD “Adrenal Fatigue” Project Aware