Adrenal Fatigue causes our bodies to fall apart after we’ve struggled with chronic stress for a long time. In today’s fast-paced world, almost every adult is overwhelmed on a daily basis. Understand what Adrenal Fatigue is, it’s symptoms, and how to treat it.
We live in a stressful world. Being an adult is harder than ever. Just ask people who are 20-30 years older than you.
- Today’s middle class has less money and is spending less on items like clothing, entertainment, and food compared to their parents. On average, an adult today spends half as much as their parents did in the early 1970’s.
- Over 85% of men and over 65% of women work more than 40 hours a week. Americans work more hours than the Japanese, British, or French.
- Our brain has to process and remember too much information every day. This leads to constant stress and trouble making decisions. There’s a downside to knowing too much.
Since it looks like everyone else is keeping up, we feel the need to look like we can too. The overachievers among us are driven to outwork everyone else. Being busy is now a sign of being smart, valuable, and important.
In some industries, if you’re not stressed, people assume you’re not driven or hungry enough. Seriously.
Unfortunately, there’s still a big stigma against asking for help. Instead, people numb with food, wine, pills, shopping, and spending hours on line. Anything to make the overwhelm go away.
As much as we talk about living a healthy lifestyle, most Americans don’t value preventing illness. Most people won’t do anything about their stress until they’re already sick or completely hit a wall.
What Is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal Fatigue is an outcome. It’s the end of a story.
The story starts with pushing the brain and body into constant fight or flight. That means you’re in a state of panic almost every day. You don’t have to feel panicky. Going 100 miles an hour just becomes your new normal.
As far as your brain is concerned, it’s working to keep you alive. It can’t tell the difference between cramming to meet a work deadline and a lion coming toward you.
Your brain and body will tell your adrenal glands, which sit on top of your kidneys, to keep pumping you full of Cortisol. This is your main stress hormone. Cortisol is great in a crisis because, mixed with Adrenaline, it gets you to fight for your life or run away to save it.
This system is designed for short spurts. Turn on, survive, and then turn off. When it’s off, you go from fight-or-flight to rest-and-digest. This is when your body can heal and, if you’re a child, grow.
Constant stress leads to constant Cortisol. Your body doesn’t get the chance to heal. Instead, every organ system starts to suffer. This is when symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue start to show up.
The final phase of this story is called Adrenal Fatigue. By this point, your adrenal glands are tapped out and can’t produce Cortisol the way they need to. Every system in your body has taken a major hit. No matter what you do, you can’t recover.
Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms
I watch people hit their limit and push past it all the time. Everybody is different, but I usually see some combination of these common Adrenal Fatigue symptoms:
- Get sick frequently and/or have trouble recovering from being sick.
- Fall or get hurt frequently. Have trouble recovering from injuries.
- Make mistakes often.
- Have trouble eating, sleeping, and digesting.
- Get tired quickly and easily, especially after 1pm.
- Have trouble with memory, concentration, and problem solving.
- Are moody, emotional, impatient, and easily irritated.
- Have constant body aches.
- Lack sex drive or interest in sex.
- Don’t feel better mentally or physically despite regular exercise and a healthy diet.
We usually don’t believe we’re going to break down until it happens. By that point, our bodies have taken a beating. The weird symptoms and lab results don’t get better. Instead, they get worse.
That’s when we hold our head in our hands and say, “I just can’t do this anymore.”
Adrenal Fatigue Treatment
The world doesn’t stop because you’re stressed. However, you have control over what you do for yourself and your family.
Despite the crash, you can still repair your adrenal glands and body if you take the necessary steps ASAP. Maintaining healthy changes is important or you’ll wind up back at Adrenal Fatigue.
Easy to implement steps for recovery include:
- Exercising but only at a mild-moderate intensity level.
- Getting to bed by 10 pm so that your body doesn’t get a second wind. That usually happens around 11 pm.
- Resting throughout the day.
- Cutting back at work. You may need to back out of a commitment or even take time off.
- Getting your relaxation response going every day through prayer, journaling, meditation, massage, yoga, or gratitude exercises.
- Going to therapy to learn how to manage intense emotions and damaging thoughts.
I highly recommend the book Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by James Wilson, Ph.D. He came up with the term “Adrenal Fatigue.” This book is the “go to” book on this subject.
About 50% of the book case studies about this doctor’s patients. You’ll probably see yourself and half the people you know in these stories.
If you’re not interested in the case studies, skip right to the section on recommendations. Dr. Wilson heavily emphasizes using supplements. Before you take any supplements, please consult with your doctors. Supplements can cause negative interactions with other medications and many are blood thinners.
The world won’t get any slower. However, we can each decide how we want to spend our time and energy. We have to decide whether it’s worth running 100 miles an hour every day if it means destroying our bodies and missing out on our lives.
In addition to lifestyle changes, working with a therapist will help you make better decisions and maintain your gains.
You may decide to make significant life changes like getting a different job, moving, or leaving a toxic relationship. These changes often produce the greatest improvement in your health.
We work with driven, high achievers who are strongly motivated by success. We help them gain the tools and strategies they need to clarify their priorities, balance their responsibilities, recover their health, and maintain a lifestyle that makes them happy.
When you’re ready to invest in your health and future, please give us a call.
To your health,
Bucks County Anxiety Center