Adrenal Fatigue: The Cause and The Solution
When talking about adrenal fatigue, we must also talk about the hormone cortisol, as it directly affects and often instigates the main symptoms associated with this condition. Let’s start by breaking down what adrenal fatigue is, along with its symptoms. That way you can identify if you may be suffering from it.
Do You Have Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is most commonly associated with an overwhelming feeling of chronic and/or reoccurring periods of fatigue, which are unrelieved with sleep. While this is the main symptom, there are others that may come with it or as a result of it:
- Sudden cravings for carbohydrates, sweet, and/or salty foods
- A loss of memory
- Decrease in libido
- Recurring and longer-lasting illnesses
These same individuals may often have a strong reliance on caffeinated drinks such as coffee, soda, and other stimulates to help start their day or provide an upper in the middle of the afternoon.
So how do we get in this state and why does this fatigue even occur? Like we mentioned before, it has almost everything to do with cortisol.
Why Does it Happen?
Adrenal fatigue is directly related to the overproduction of cortisol by the adrenal glands located above the kidneys which eventually results in the lack of production of cortisol. It is when this lack of production occurs that the body enters this state of fatigue.
The overproduction of cortisol can occur through a single high stressful event in ones’ life, as well as a natural reaction to the fast-paced, repetitive nature of the world we live in today. It is the accumulation of stressful events that can lead to the over-stimulation of the adrenals and eventual failure of the adrenals to properly produce the necessary cortisol to meet the demands of the body and maintain homeostasis (a state of equilibrium or balance).
When talking again about that reliance on caffeinated drinks or other stimulates, it is this reliance that can create a vicious cycle with our body’s production of cortisol. Our body cannot meet the necessary demands for cortisol production when we ingest these stimulants, therefore decreasing our ability to get good recovery sleep. This ultimately produces a stronger, daily reliance on stimulants.
Cortisol is necessary for life- we all need some. However, when under chronic stress, cortisol is not our friend. As cortisol levels become higher, a cascade of events is initiated and the previously mentioned symptoms occur.
Many of these symptoms are a direct result of cortisol’s effect on other hormones and the balance between them. So let’s look its relationship with these hormones and what happens when this balance is disrupted.
How Cortisol Affects Our Other Hormones
We’re going to be focusing on three of our most important hormones: testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen. Be sure to check out the many benefits of each in some of our other blogs (some listed at the end of this blog) or head over to our hormone replacement therapy page.
Let’s look at how cortisol directly affects these other three vital hormones in our bodies, in response when our stress levels are on the rise.
- Progesterone decreases: leading to anxiety, depression, hair loss, dry skin, heavy periods, PMS, weight gain, vaginal dryness and thyroid dysfunction (causing fatigue).
- Testosterone decreases: causing irritability, fatigue, sleep disturbances, menstrual irregularities, loss of motivation and interest, impotence and loss of libido.
- Estrogen increases: resulting in estrogen dominance, PMS, fibroids, decreased thyroid function, weight gain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and blood clots
So you can see, these hormones are necessary to our overall health and vitality. Cortisol can disrupt the balance of these hormones, harming us from the inside out.
When cortisol levels rise, we see: immune suppression (we get sick), insomnia and sleep disturbances, irritability, anxiety, lower thyroid function, sugar cravings, increase cholesterol and higher blood pressure.
How to Avoid Adrenal Fatigue & Find Balance
Every individual is susceptible to adrenal fatigue. We are much more inclined to develop adrenal fatigue if making certain unhealthy lifestyle choices such as: poor diet, lack of exercise, little to no sleep, and/or professional pressures.
These same lifestyle choices, however, can be altered gradually to help fight your way out of adrenal fatigue. Work towards proper nutritional choices, slowly eliminate or reduce your amount of caffeinated drinks, and develop a consistent sleep schedule. We’ve got a great blog for “How to Get Better Sleep at Night,” which you can check out here or watch below!
Finding Balance with Hormones
Even though cortisol is necessary for life, too much of a good thing can have far reaching effects on our health. To soften our bodies response to cortisol overload, balancing the other hormones is necessary.
If your hormones are already out of balance, then even a little stress can seem insurmountable.
So while for some, making better or healthier life choices may help with their adrenal fatigue, others may have to look deeper to find the answers. Which is why if you’ve tried to correct the issue yourself to no avail, you should have your hormone levels tested to see if they are imbalanced.
Finding and achieving this balance is vital to your health and quality of life.
Get Started Today
If you’re interested in learning more, experiencing any of the symptoms discussed above, or want to get started in having your levels checked- please fill out our initial consultation form here. One of our providers will walk you step-by-step through your results and craft your own, unique treatment plan.
Let us help you get started living life once again, well rested and with a renewed vitality.
Check out some of our blogs below to learn more:
- “Hormone Imbalance in Women: What to Do”
- “Hormone Replacement Therapy Testimonial: Vicky”
- “Is Estradiol Safe for Post-Menopausal Women?”