Do You Have Adrenal Fatigue?

It’s unlikely you’re sitting around often wondering if you have adrenal fatigue. But would you know how to identify it if you did? Adrenal fatigue can simply be defined as the body’s inability to produce appropriate levels of cortisol at a fast enough rate when regularly bombarded with extreme levels of stress.

The onset of adrenal fatigue is a gradual dominos effect. One by one, your nervous system, physical body, adrenal glands, and brain fall prey to the effects of constant, unwavering stress. This stress can come on suddenly, like in cases of illness, loss of a loved one, or diagnosis of cancer. It can also be from prolonged exposure to stress, perhaps you’re slowly accumulating more debt, overworking, under-relaxing, over-eating, experiencing chronic pain, or insomnia. When you’re firing on all cylinders all the time, eventually you’re going to break down.

It’s unlikely you’ll go from 0-10 on this wild stress ride. Like an onion, this issue has layers!

The Four Stages of Adrenal Fatigue

Stage 1: Wired and Tired

When you’re experiencing Stage 1 Adrenal Fatigue, it’s likely you feel like you’ve had an entire pot of coffee in one gulp. It’s an exciting stage because you can accomplish so much and only feel marginally different than your baseline normal. You’re still producing sufficient enough levels of cortisol to handle the stress you’re under.

Stage 2: Stressed and Depressed

At this point, the stress of daily life has continued to pile up. You’re starting to feel a little worse for the wear but still able to juggle life, work, kids, illness, chronic pain, lack of sleep, emotional trauma, etc. Just not as easy as you were before. Your endocrine system (adrenals, thyroid, ovaries) is beginning to break down and you’re starting to reach for coffee and stimulants to get you through the day.

Stage 3: Burnout Resistance

Your body is forced to start setting aside the production of hormones required for daily function and focus on stress management. This means, your normal productions of testosterone, DHEA, progesterone, and often estrogen becomes unstable. During this stage, you function on bouts of energy, generally connected to your resting periods.

Stage 4: Burnout

Lastly, we have full burnout. Your body’s been working hard, begging you to slow down, and finally, you’re out of gas. Your cortisol levels have dropped significantly and you’re constantly drained mentally, physically, and emotionally. It’s hard to be motivated to do anything at this point and it starts to feel like you’ll never get on top of your to-do list.

Are you starting to suspect that you have some degree of adrenal fatigue but don’t really understand how it affects the body, aside from just being tired?

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Fatigue/exhaustion
  • Frequent illnesses
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Reduced memory
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia or wakefulness
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Low sex drive
  • Skin problems including dry skin
  • Food cravings
  • Lightheadedness
  • Hair loss
  • Heart palpitations
  • Irritability
  • Digestive problems
  • Over-reaction to stress
  • Nervousness

If you feel like you’re experiencing any of the stages of burnout, make an appointment online with one of our medical providers or check out Nisha Jackon’s “Brilliant Burnout.” The book contains all the tools you need to heal your adrenals so you can get back to feeling like yourself again.