Author: Elly Prior | First published: 27-11-2010 | Modified: 24-10-2017
'Adrenal fatigue syndrome' is a condition that isn't necessarily recognised by the medical establishment. And I don't normally like 'labels' as they don't reflect the enormous complexity of human nature.
And so often, labels stick, as if they're somehow exacting. Professionals are likely to prescribe treatment for the condition (label) or the organ, instead of looking at you holistically.
Nevertheless, I do think that the term adrenal fatigue syndrome positively organises the diversity of body/mind responses to - and fall-out from - prolonged stress. And I know that if you've found yourself here, you may well be going through one hell of a difficult time. Hence this article...
So, I hope the information will help you on the road to recovery from being fatigued, depressed, anxious and stressed to being your 'old self' again. I'm aiming to inform and empower you so that you can discuss your symptoms with your health professional and decide on the best treatment for you.
You adrenal glands manufacture and secrete:
They sit at the top of your kidneys and are about the size of a walnut. They continuously turn processes up and down depending on what's happening in your internal and external environment.
When you're not under too much stress for too long, you're most unlikely to ever suffer from adrenal gland fatigue. However, when the demands on you - your body/mind - outstrip your resources, including those of your adrenal glands, they become exhausted. And with that - you too...
Feeling stressed? Your relationship is trouble or your children are? Maybe financial worries are getting on top of you? Or you suffer from excessive stress at work. Importantly, these kinds of stresses are unlikely to be resolved very quickly.
As a result, your adrenal glands will be particularly on guard - they're like two members of your 24/7 personal protection team. They ensure an immediate response to an 'assault' (in the widest sense) or even a perceived attack on your well-being. They initiate all the resources you need to fight or flee (or 'tend and befriend' - this is more often a female response).
These days, the stressors you're exposed differ greatly from those your adrenal glands were originally designed for. In ancient times, human beings had to deal with stressors of much shorter duration - like marauding animals, for example.
So, after a prolonged and highly stressful situation or event, the demand on your adrenal glands is above that which they can endure. This leaves you at risk of developing adrenal fatigue syndrome on account of the exhausted glands. And that may affect the normal function of your thyroid too, which could lead to a potentially under-performing thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).
What might have put you at risk of developing adrenal fatigue syndrome?
To determine your particular risk factors, take the following into consideration:
When it comes to the stressors in your physical environment, remember: you body and mind were designed for life as it was thousands of years ago. Take that into consideration and you'll find it easier to see what potential harm your body is exposed to every day...
You now know that when the demand on your adrenal glands outstrips their ability to respond efficiently, adrenal insufficiency and fatigue occur.
It was Dr James Wilson (see links) who first coined the phrase adrenal fatigue syndrome. Here is a quote from Dr Wilson's website:
When your adrenal glands are no longer able to recover fully from the excessive demands of ongoing stress, you start to become troubled by adrenal fatigue symptoms.
Below, you'll find a list of some of the most common signs of adrenal fatigue. But do bear in mind that these can all indicate other potential health problems too. So, you'll need to talk to your healthcare provider to help you figure out what's really going on for you.
This list of symptoms is by no means exhaustive, but it gives a real insight into the huge role your adrenal glands play.
When you're suffering from adrenal fatigue syndrome, your capacity to deal with what others may call normal day-to-day activities becomes severely challenged.
Any ordinary demands from your loved ones, from work, from friends - regardless of how enjoyable or simple they may seem - can all feel too much. Particularly stressful events or stressful periods of time appear even more insurmountable. And it's utterly frustrating when you're used to living life to the full then suddenly you feel irritable, tired and generally under the weather all the time.
You may start to see your bed as your sanctuary... but find that rest doesn't lead to recovery and you feel exhausted as soon as you wake up. Extreme fatigue can make it impossible for you to meet your essential emotional needs. So it's no wonder that you then start to feel depressed and like you're desperately struggling to get a grip.
Your relationship or marriage may well suffer, as the dynamics between the two of you will change. This is only natural, if you're finding that you're constantly irritable and/or becoming more dependent on your partner.
If you think you're suffering from adrenal fatigue symptoms, this is a major warning sign that your body/mind is being severely compromised. It's time to take heed and slow down - at the very least!
The key to adrenal fatigue treatment is to understand first that there are two parts of your nervous system that deal with the ups and downs of daily life, under the influence of your adrenal glands.
One part consists of a set of nerves that take control when all is calm (parasympathetic nervous system). The other part consists of a system that takes over when there's a demand for action (sympathetic nervous system).
There is a constant interplay between the two parts, depending on whether you're required to act or relax.
Adrenal fatigue treatment involves, in part, consciously learning to influence the parasympathetic nervous system.
Watch the video for further information...
It can be really hard to find the energy to try to make things right when you're feeling so exhausted.
So, here are 5 easy tasks to get you on the road to recovery:
You may have to ditch old prejudices about what may or may not work for you at different stages of your recovery. So keep an open mind - that's the best way to find what works!
I'm really sorry to have to do this to you, but you're going to have to take a look at these chilling pictures of damaged brains. You'll have much less of a problem coming off all of the following...
... cigarettes - it is easier when you keep in mind what's in those cigs:
... sugar - it's poison - really
... coffee - a small cup once a day is fine
... chocolate - though you can have a small piece if it's over 70% cacao
... diet drinks - they contain sweeteners
... anything with aspartame (a sweetener)
I know it's disappointing and you won't really want to do it, but I'm afraid there's no choice now if you want to get better. There are, however, relatively 'painless' ways to come off whichever of the above you need to. Take a look online - there's plenty of help available.
If you're suffering from adrenal fatigue symptoms, any therapy that requires too much navel-gazing really doesn't cut it - in my view. Being confronted with painful, dysfunctional, traumatic or otherwise emotionally arousing 'stuff' is stressful.
However, I do recommend you get some professional support. You can 'borrow' someone else's brain to help you deal with immediate problems. But, you'll also be able to off-load and get to grips with stuff that's been lurking in the background, zapping your energy. If you know precisely what I mean - get some help now.
Adrenal fatigue treatment will be most successful with a holistic approach.
I really hope this article is of help to you. :-)
I frequently update my articles based on feedback, therefore I really value your vote. If you think I've missed something, please do let me know in the comment section below.
Thank you so much in anticipation. :-)
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