Have you heard of adrenal fatigue? If not, don’t worry. It is a condition slowly gaining more recognition in the medical community. As a matter of fact, adrenal fatigue is one of the most misunderstood medical conditions at the moment.
There is much confusion about what adrenal fatigue is, how it affects mental health, and what can be done to reverse or manage it. This blog will try our best to demystify adrenal fatigue and help you understand what it is and how it affects people’s lives. But before we get into the nitty-gritty of adrenal fatigue, let’s first understand what the adrenal glands are and their bodily functions.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is a term used to describe low functioning or under-activity of the adrenal glands. It is believed to be caused by prolonged stress, leading to health issues like poor sleep quality, inflammation, and blood sugar spikes.
The adrenal glands play a vital role in the body’s response to stress. These glands produce cortisol and adrenaline, hormones that help us respond to stress by increasing blood sugar levels, boosting our energy levels, and improving our mood. When these glands are regularly overworked, they become exhausted and malfunction. This can result in symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss without calorie intake, chronic pain, and even hair loss.
However, adrenal fatigue is not an accepted medical diagnosis, nor is it a mild form of adrenal insufficiency caused by chronic stress. Instead, it is often linked to chronic fatigue syndrome or hypothyroidism. Both of these conditions are severe disorders with their own sets of symptoms and treatments.
Can Adrenal Fatigue Cause Anxiety? Is This a New Pandemic?
Stress and anxiety can cause adrenal fatigue, a condition in which the adrenal glands become overstimulated and unable to produce cortisol and adrenaline effectively. Chronic stress and anxiety can lead to chronic exhaustion, known as adrenal burnout, marked by symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, difficulty sleeping, brain fog, and joint pain. Adrenal fatigue isn’t the same as chronic adrenal insufficiency (a medical condition characterized by low cortisol levels), which can be diagnosed using blood test results.
When experiencing adrenal fatigue, it’s essential to understand its causes and associated myths. Recovery includes getting proper rest and nutrition, avoiding chronic stress and anxiety, and engaging in activities that strengthen your body and mind.
What are the Adrenal Glands?
The adrenal glands, also known as suprarenal glands or “kidney hats,” are triangular-shaped endocrine glands on top of the kidneys. These glands produce two essential hormones, cortisol, and aldosterone, which play important roles in the body’s stress response and regulation of blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Adrenal glands are responsible for the body’s stress response and be involved in chronic stress, which can lead to feelings of anxiety and chronic stress. Certain health conditions, such as Addison’s disease or congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), can affect adrenal gland function and lead to problems with the stress response. In these cases, adrenal hormones, particularly adrenaline and cortisol, activate the body’s fight-or-flight response and place a high demand on the body’s energy resources. This can result in fatigue, weight loss, mood swings, and other symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal Fatigue vs. Adrenal Burnout
Adrenal fatigue is a common condition characterized by low cortisol levels and an overactive adrenal stress response. It occurs when the adrenal glands become overwhelmed by stress and produce excessive cortisol. This results in low cortisol levels, which can hurt health.
On the other hand, adrenal burnout is a more profound derangement of the body’s energy-producing system, of which adrenal fatigue is only one symptom. Symptoms of adrenal burnout may include depression, insomnia, anxiety, weight loss, recurrent infections, and impaired memory. Both adrenal fatigue and adrenal burnout are severe medical conditions that require treatment. However, they are distinct conditions and should not be confused with each other.
Detecting Adrenal Burnout
Adrenal burnout is when the adrenal glands are impaired and unable to produce adequate amounts of cortisol, leading to severe fatigue and other symptoms. Signs and symptoms of adrenal burnout can be used to assess adrenal health and determine whether the adrenal function is normal or low.
These signs and symptoms may include low blood sugar, blood pressure, temperature, depression, joint pain, and allergies. In addition to showing adrenal function in the lab, tests may also be used to detect adrenal burnout directly. For instance, postural or orthostatic blood pressure readings are often used to measure adrenal function. Such tests require people to stand up quickly after being seated or lying down for a period of time.
Suppose an individual is taking cortisone or other medications that can severely impact adrenal function. In that case, it may be difficult to accurately detect adrenal burnout with simple blood testing alone. This is why more sophisticated tests are required in these cases. The most accurate test for the adrenal function is usually a combination of blood work and psychological assessments such as questionnaires or interviews.
Causes of Adrenal Fatigue/Burnout
Stress is a common factor that can contribute to adrenal fatigue/burnout. Excessive stress can lead to adrenal gland toxicity and deficiency, which can be irreversible. Other physical factors that can lead to adrenal fatigue/burnout include nutritional depletion and chemical toxicity. Mental, emotional, or spiritual stress can also contribute to adrenal fatigue/burnout. Prolonged high cortisol production is a common way that the adrenal glands become depleted.
Prolonged physical, emotional, and mental stress can trigger adrenal fatigue. As with all forms of stress, finding ways to reduce your stress levels and increase your concentration on daily tasks is essential. This will help protect against adrenal fatigue/burnout and ensure maximum mental and physical health.
Symptoms OF Adrenal Burnout
Adrenal fatigue is a condition that causes physical and mental symptoms as a result of low cortisol and DHEA levels. Common physical symptoms of adrenal fatigue include fatigue, weakness, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, cravings for sweets, and impaired digestion. Additional symptoms include depression, apathy, despair, emotional instability, mood swings, bipolar disorder, anxiety, irritability, compulsiveness, and obsessive-compulsive tendencies.
Adrenal fatigue is characterized by decreased cortisol and DHEA levels which can cause depression, insomnia, anxiety, weight loss, recurrent infections, and impaired memory. So it’s essential to treat the physical symptoms of adrenal fatigue and address its underlying cause to treat the condition effectively.
The Physiology of Adrenal Burnout
Adrenal Burnout Syndrome is a severe health issue that can affect anyone, whether you are working or not. It is characterized by adrenal fatigue, a condition in which the body’s energy-producing system becomes exhausted. This can lead to various physical and psychological symptoms, including fatigue, irritability, mood swings, etc. Over time, adrenal fatigue can severely affect your overall health, causing chronic inflammation and other problems.
Adrenal fatigue is often caused by prolonged overproduction of cortisol and adrenaline hormones. To combat stress and promote homeostasis in the body, our bodies must produce cortisol and adrenaline to help the body function typically. However, when cortisol levels are chronically elevated for long periods of time, the body’s ability to produce other vital hormones becomes impaired. A spike characterizes this first stage of adrenal fatigue in cortisol levels and an inability of other hormones, such as testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen, to be produced at adequate levels.
The second stage of adrenal fatigue develops when the body struggles to recover from the effects of high cortisol levels. This stage can last weeks or months after the initial adrenal fatigue syndrome diagnosis. The body reaches this state when cortisol production returns to average, but other hormone production remains impaired. In this stage of adrenal fatigue, individuals may experience fatigue and loss of energy along with other symptoms characteristic of adrenal exhaustion.
Myths About Adrenal Burnout
Adrenal burnout is when adrenal glands become overworked and eventually cease functioning. The adrenal glands are two glands above the kidneys that produce hormones that regulate many bodily functions, including blood pressure, stress, and energy levels. When adrenal burnout occurs, the glands become fatigued and stop functioning correctly. This can lead to several unwanted health effects, including increased stress and anxiety levels and a decreased ability to cope with daily life challenges.
Adrenal burnout is a serious condition that requires treatment. However, it is essential to note that adrenal burnout is not a disease in and of itself; instead, it is caused by the long-term overproduction of adrenaline and cortisol hormones. This overproduction can result from stress or chronic anxiety, but it also happens in non-stressful situations when people are continuously exposed to arousing stimuli. As such, adrenal burnout is more of a mental health issue than a medical one.
In some cases, adrenal exhaustion may be related to a traumatic event or series of events. However, for most people experiencing adrenal exhaustion and burnout, the underlying cause is likely to be chronic stress or anxiety, leading to an imbalance in their body’s natural stress hormones.
How to Recover From Adrenal Fatigue
You may have heard of adrenal fatigue as a condition characterized by low levels of cortisol and DHEA in the blood. This can occur following prolonged stress on the adrenal glands, such as chronic fatigue or exhaustion.
Adrenal fatigue is a symptom-based syndrome linked to chronic stress and can be treated by reducing stress and balancing the body. In the first stage of adrenal fatigue, you may experience fatigue, nausea, irritability, weakness, joint pain, and other symptoms after prolonged exposure to stress. In the second stage of adrenal fatigue, you may notice low cortisol levels and reduced energy levels. The third stage of adrenal fatigue is marked by the complete incapability of the adrenal glands to produce cortisol and chronic fatigue. To recover from adrenal fatigue, focus on reducing stress, balancing your body, and getting cortisol back to optimal levels.
Adrenal Fatigue Treatment
Adrenal fatigue is a condition in which chronic stress and chronic low adrenal hormone production decrease adrenal function. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include chronic low energy, fatigue, depression, insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, weight loss, recurrent infections, and impaired memory. Adrenal fatigue can be classified into three stages depending on the severity of the condition. These stages are triggered by a prolonged stimulus to the adrenal glands, decreased cortisol and DHEA levels, and complete exhaustion of the adrenal glands.
In the first stage of adrenal fatigue, you may experience mild symptoms such as chronic low energy and feeling “worn out” even after a good night’s sleep. In Stage 2 adrenal fatigue, you may experience severe symptoms such as chronic low energy and frequent nausea. Finally, in the third stage of adrenal fatigue, you may experience chronic high blood pressure or seizures, possibly leading to heart disease.
Treatment for adrenal fatigue involves lifestyle changes such as getting adequate sleep, eating a healthy diet, and reducing stress. It also includes medications that target symptoms such as nausea or seizures. If adrenal fatigue symptoms persist despite treatment plans put in place, it might be an indication to visit your doctor for further diagnosis and treatment.
We started this article by asking can adrenal fatigue cause anxiety. The adrenal glands produce cortisol, a hormone that helps you cope with stress and enhance your quality of life. When adrenal fatigue sets in, your body may be unable to keep up with cortisol production because of low adrenal gland function.
This can result in several unpleasant symptoms, such as fatigue, sugar cravings, and insomnia. If you’re experiencing adrenal fatigue, you could benefit from lifestyle changes and supplements to help support adrenal gland function and reduce the major stressor in your life.