Adrenal Fatigue: Part 1

Adrenal Fatigue is one of the most common conditions I see in my practice, both men and women. Most people only discover that they are suffering from Adrenal Fatigue after treating individual symptoms with no success. Fortunately, you can recover and, in some cases, quickly with proper care. The longer you have Adrenal Fatigue the greater the challenge.


How can I tell, I’m getting Adrenal Fatigue?

Often, we wake up feeling tired and most of us can attribute it to a sleepless night or an exhausting previous day, knowing that by the afternoon our energy will rebound and we will have forgotten about how we felt. It was just a tough day before and we just need a good meal and a day off.

But for many people, they do not rebound and instead remain feeling tired, as well as irritable for no apparent reason. This tired cranky feeling has become a chronic emotional and physical state and over time a collection of additional general symptoms begin to develop. Along with the fatigue, people begin to experience body aches, digestive problems and serious sleeping problems that they can not resolve and so the condition worsens.

Common symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Nervousness/anxiety
  • Digestive issues
  • Body aches
  • Light-headedness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Hair loss

Your adrenal glands produce several of your hormones, such as adrenaline, DHEA and cortisol, all of which undertake the body’s response to stress. Chronic stress, both physical, emotional and psychological, overworks the adrenal glands and if they are not cared for, they will disfunction leading to inadequate production of one or more hormones. 1

4 Stages of Adrenal Fatigue1

Stage 1: Alarm

The first phase of Adrenal Fatigue is the Alarm phase, which is a normal and natural response to external stressors. The Alarm stage is important as it stimulates the adrenal glands to produce small amounts of stress hormones, such as insulin, adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol, which are the body’s chemical messengers during stress. Note: When you are producing insulin to process cortisol your liver will be off and not making bile for the gut, or undertaking any other jobs and your thyroid will be disabled. This is normal, because insulin is King and stress is a Killer, so it gets your body’s full attention. Damage to the gut and hormone system occurs with long-term or repeated stress. These hormones produce alertness, allow you to focus and give you the ability to make quick decisions, all of which are necessary to tackle stress and find a solution, so it doesn't occur again.

After responding to the external stressor, the body should naturally calm completely down to a rest. On average, this takes 45 minutes once the stressor is removed. However, repetitive stress and coping strategies may disrupt this normal and natural cycle. For instance, taking caffeine to keep you alert, because your so exhausted and need to function, but it will hijack your normal signals for relaxation and sleep in the body and although you will feel fully awake, your performance will be subpar. The symptoms of the first stage of Adrenal Fatigue aren’t overly noticeable, however the ever-present feeling of being slightly tired is a red-flag.

Stage 2: Resistance

The second phase, Resistance, is the body’s way of informing you naturally that you should slow down. During this phase, adrenal glands steadily and noticeably start slowing down. At this point your adrenal glands can’t produce enough stress hormones to meet the increasing demands and by the end of this phase, and if you do not eat adequate protein and fat to begin with, you will progress quickly into Stage Three.

With reduced production of stress hormones, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • A general feeling of fatigue and tiredness that interferes with your daily activities and never seems to go away.
  • Decreased performance at work or home.
  • You fall sick frequently with flu or cold and recovery takes longer than normal.
  • Worsening symptoms of anxiety, irritability, mood swings and insomnia.
  • Beginning stages of serious gut disorders.

Stage 3: Adrenal Exhaustion

Your body shifts into Adrenal Exhaustion immediately when there is a significant drop in cortisol hormone production. Unfortunately, your body is still stressed and a loss of alertness and focus now takes over permanently, along with physical, emotional and mental crashes that increase with frequency and severity as the adrenals disfunction and begin to go down.

You will experience periods of highs and lows during the day, with a fog of extreme tiredness dominating your body. If you rest at this stage, feeling refreshed takes longer and lasts only briefly. Everything, ranging from digestion to libido, slows down. Your mind also slows down considerable and thinking becomes burdensome.

Stage 4: Burnout

The Burnout phase of Adrenal Fatigue comes with several coexisting body dysfunctions, because the adrenal glands support many other body processes. A significant drop in adrenal functionality leads to both physical problems and many, many psychological issues that impact both the nervous and reproductive systems.

Key symptoms of Burnout include:

  • Muscle and joint pains often mistaken for Fibromyalgia, a mitochondrial condition.
  • Low blood pressure
  • Frequent skin issues caused by imbalanced ovarian hormones.
  • Constipation, diarrhea, IBS, vomiting, GERD, bile shortage and other digestion issues
  • Cold extremities due to thyroid dysfunction, caused by too much insulin in the blood.
  • Poor blood circulation because of low blood pressure.
  • Severe dehydration
  • Muscle loss in the face and body
  • Loss of hair, eyebrows and eyelashes
  • Dull complexion
  • Extreme levels of anxiety and fear
  • Inability to get or stay asleep
  • Nightmares
  • Inability to think clearly or make a decisions
  • Unaccounted for anger

The time it takes to recover from Adrenal Fatigue is different for everyone, depending upon the causes and people’s varying physical conditions. Reducing stress can be one of the greater challenges, when recovering from Adrenal Fatigue. Kim

References What are the 4 Stages of Adrenal Fatigue with Symptoms list?,