Stress Management and Adrenal Fatigue

 Irritability, nervousness, and fatigue may set in. Blood pressure may be too high or too low. There may be cravings for sweet, salty or fatty foods. The person may experience more frequent or more severe infections such as colds. These symptoms can be the result of changes in adrenal function.

The adrenals are small glands located above the kidneys. They are part of a complex system of hormone-producing glands, and are responsible for hormones that regulate the amount of water in our bodies, our response to stress and inflammation, blood pressure, sexual function, blood sugar, sleep and more. The adrenal glands work like shock absorbers to help us adapt to stress. They do this by secreting substances like adrenaline (also known as epinephrine) and cortisol which prepare our bodies to deal with the effects of stress.

Adrenal fatigue can occur when chronic stress results in a gradual deterioration in the functioning of the adrenal glands. It is also known as hypoadrenia. When the glands become exhausted, a condition known as Addison’s Disease results. Main stream medicine focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of this endpoint, rather than on the sliding scale of diminished function which precedes it. Unless the adrenal glands function in an all-or-nothing fashion, it is unlikely that the marked state of failure that characterizes Addison’s Disease would not have milder degrees of dysfunction preceding it.

  • waking up fatigued after a normal period of sleep
  • generalized fatigue
  • insomnia
  • restlessness
  • anxiety, nervousness
  • tendency to startle
  • cravings for salt, sugar or fatty foods, possible changes in weight
  • feeling light-headed after a change in position, e.g. moving from a seated position to a standing one
  • increased susceptibility to infection
  • increased use of tobacco, caffeine, alcohol, sugar

Other conditions that may be linked to adrenal fatigue include:

  • allergies
  • asthma
  • muscle weakness or back pain
  • inflammation
  • headaches
  • blood sugar problems
  • behaviour problems
  • memory problems

If you do not have the signs, symptoms or conditions associated with adrenal fatigue but are in the midst of a stressful period, ensure you are managing your stress proactively. This article on stress management provides some ideas about how to do that.

If you’ve developed symptoms, it’s time to see a naturopathic doctor. The long term consequences of adrenal fatigue can have a serious impact on your health and quality of life, so do yourself a favour and invest in your health. Your body will reward you with renewed vitality.