Adrenal Fatigue

Photo by grinvalds/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by grinvalds/iStock / Getty Images

3 years ago I started noticing something going on with my body that didn’t feel quite right. I started experiencing extreme fatigue, felt tired all of the time, I had a difficult time focusing on one thing and thinking clearly, I noticed my memory was failing, but the most alarming thing I notices is that I was experiencing a loss of motivation for the things I used to enjoy, particularly running and working out. At the same time my husband and I had been praying to start a family. I decided it was time to take action to figure out what was going on with my body. After all, I knew I needed to have my body in prime condition if I desired to bring a child into this world to care for, nourish and have a healthy pregnancy.

What is Adrenal Fatigue? Your adrenal glands are located on the top of your kidneys and are your Fight or Flight organ. They are responsible for producing hormones and specifically cortisol. When you experience a stressful situation, your adrenal glands release cortisol which causes a surge of energy to help you respond properly (Fight or Flight). When your body is under an extreme amount of stress for a long period of time, your adrenal glands eventual burn out and they are unable to produce the amount of cortisol that is needed for the body to function optimally. This is the point when you begin to experience symptoms as I did. Additional symptoms may include insomnia, weight gain, low sex drive, depression, irritability, inability to cope with stress and infertility.

Stress can come in many different forms:

Physical Stress – such as an injury, accident, high intensity workouts without giving your body the proper nutrition and time to recover

Emotional Stress – such as a demanding career, the birth of a new baby, divorce, death of a loved one, loss of a job, an unhealthy or abusive relationship

Environmental Stress – such as pollution, pesticides or carcinogens

Hind sight is always 20/20 isn’t it? I had gone through a divorce, loss of a job and death of a loved one within 6 weeks. My body was under Fight mode for 2 years just trying to survive let alone function properly. Everything had finally caught up to me and I could no longer push it under the rug and keep living like everything was just fine. I have always been the type of person that when things get tough or something is wrong I just suck it up and move on, which isn’t always bad, but I am learning that when it comes to taking care of the one and only body I have, which has been given to me as a gift from God to nourish and treat with respect I need to listen to it. Our bodies are crazy smart and an amazing creation. We just need to tune in and listen to it more.

3 Things I learned about Adrenal Fatigue

1-It is rarely diagnosed by a traditional doctor. Nothing against doctors, but from my experience it doesn’t seem be something that shows up on their radar screen. From my experience, traditional blood test do not provide enough information to diagnose Adrenal Fatigue or Adrenal Burn Out. I have done several saliva tests that test specifically for hormone levels in your body at different times throughout the day. A simple blood test shows a snap shot of your hormones at one point in time. Throughout out the day our hormones fluctuate and identifying their levels at different points of the day can help determine where you are in the adrenal spectrum.

2-The foods I eat and the things I put into my body are the primary influence on how I feel. Ever heard the saying, “You are what you eat”. Well, I believe this to be true after my experience with adrenal fatigue. Everything we put in and on our body is absorb through our skin and into our blood stream and eventually affects us at the cellular level whether good or bad.

3-Stress can be toxic to your body. Stress is the leading cause of the majority of disease in our country. Besides the obvious major stressors (death, divorce, loss of job, injury, demanding career or family) there are also other hidden forms of stress such as inflammation, infections, allergies, air quality, food and water quality.

So where are you at? Are you experience any of the signs or symptoms I described above? Here is a short questionnaire you can take to assess your likelihood of adrenal burnout. It is important to note that I am not here to diagnose any conditions.

1-I feel excessively tired all of the time

2-I crave sweets

3-I feel more energetic in the evening

4-I have a difficult time handling stressful situations

5-I am more prone to being sick or have a week immune system

6-I need caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, etc.) to get going in the morning

7-I suffer from anxiety, depression or have recently been experiencing feelings of sadness or loss of motivation

8-I have a difficult time thinking clearly or experience foggy brain

9-I have experienced one or more major life events (death of a loved one, loss of job, divorce, new baby, new job, caring for a sick or disabled loved one, moving, going back to school or starting college)

10-I have a difficult time relaxing, taking a break or winding down

If you answered yes to several of these questions, you may be experiencing Adrenal Burnout. The good news is you have identified an area that most let continue to spiral out of control, like me until it negatively impacts our health. Let’s face it, everyone is under some form of stress or another, we just need to be more proactive in identifying it, giving our bodies the proper care and nutrition to function optimally and to learn how to deal with stressful events in a healthy way.

Lisa McQuillen