Adrenal fatigue is becoming more common in today’s fast-paced world. Heard the term a few times and wondering what it is and if you might have it?
Constantly exhausted and dragging yourself through the day, relying on jolts of caffeine, sugar and energy drinks to get you through – morning, mid-morning and mid-afternoon? This is a sign your cortisol is too low early in the day, when it should be at it’s highest. It’s meant to wake you up full of life.
Needing a stiff drink after work to quell the overwhelm, help you relax and get you through the family dinner-bedtime routine? This is a sign your cortisol levels are too high for this time of day and don’t allow for a restful night’s sleep.
Been to the doctor’s saying “why am I so tired?” They run a few labs and do a quick physical. No obvious results come back and you’re told everything’s fine. Perhaps come back in a few months if it doesn’t improve.
Not working for you? You’re not alone.
I have a different approach. I detect the early signs of your body struggling, before you get deep into adrenal fatigue. Why wait until you hit rock bottom? Uncovering the root causes is vital to great long term results.
Your tiny adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys, to each side of your lower back. They’re responsible for regulating the stress response through the making of cortisol and adrenaline. In our busy, chronically stressed-out lives, our bodies are pumping out cortisol on a continual basis. We simply aren’t meant to function that way, and it can wear us down and burn us out. To add fuel to the fire, we tend to live on a diet of sugary, processed foods and caffeine. The stress, sugar and caffeine overload can wear down the adrenals as well.
So how do you know if your adrenals are fatigued?
Here is a summary of the stages of stress to help you identify if this is you:
Stage 1 – Alarm Phase
- Fight, flight or freeze response
- High cortisol and adrenaline
- Sugar cravings
- Hot flushes
- Weight gain around middle
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Water retention
Geared for survival, high cortisol tells all your cells food is scarce. Your metabolism slows down to compensate and stores the excess as fat around your waist. Muscles are signalled to break down to supply nutrients for energy or repair in an emergency. Your blood sugar increases. Your energy drops, due to less muscle.
That’s great if you’re trying to make it across a desert with limited food, but not if you’re sitting in front of a TV with your financial or relationship wows milling around in your head. Not so good. You’re now at a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and cellulite, since fat is laid down where muscles once was. Now, add eating less and it confirms to your body that there’s limited food, and your metabolism slows down even further. Fat is stored around your stomach, major organs and back of arms for ease of access.
High cortisol also uses the resources that would typically go into making progesterone, so progesterone levels fall low and PMT (premenstrual tension) begins. High cortisol also causes your body to make more rT3, which is an inactive form of your thyroid hormone to slow your metabolism down. That’s why the deeper into this phase you go, the more tired and listless you become.
Ideally, you need to reduce adrenaline and cortisol levels here. One tip is reducing your caffeine, it’s only making it worse.
Stage 2 – Adaptation Phase
- Cortisol is now low
- Feeling like you’ve been hit by a bus
- Exhaustion, but still agitation due to adrenaline
- Sleep onset insomnia, especially if up past 10pm and you get second wind, adrenal surge.
- Feel worse after exercise, often
- Muscle pain, inflammed
- Depressed mood
- Fibromyalgia-type symptoms
- Clotty painful periods
- Mood swings
- Swinging blood sugar level
- Premature ageing
- Low libido
Cortisol plays a role in making you feel vital and combating inflammation.
Your blood test cortisol levels will be “low”, but still fall within the “normal range”. You’ll be told you’re fine. You’ll feel anything but normal and people who know you will say you’re a former shell of yourself.
Goal here is to help your body make appropriate amounts of cortisol again to increase energy and decrease inflammation. Lifestyle work is essential here.
Stage 3 – Exhaustion
- Severely low cortisol
- Chronic fatigue stage
- Wake often during night
Low cortisol is associated with depression, while adrenaline primarily contributes to anxiety. Have you pushed the reset button taking antidepressants, but not addressed the real cause. Still on them years later with no real recovery in sight?
What stage are you at?
Having a health professional experienced at supporting and guiding you out of an adrenal-based condition, can be game changing to your progress and re-establishing your quality of life. Book now to get you started on the road to recovery today. You deserve to feel fantastic every day!