The adrenal glands produce stress hormones: adrenaline which is responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ reaction and cortisol which main task is to maintain energy levels so that you have the strength to counteract the stressful situation. Cortisol is also responsible for bringing your body back into balance after the threat is gone. In a situation where stressors persist, your body is constantly set in ”fight or flight” mode which means your adrenal glands work without a break and produce ever greater amounts of cortisol and adrenaline. When do they stop? They stop when either you learn to cope with stress (and the hormones come back to their healthy level) or when they simply have had enough and give up. That’s when they begin to produce a lot less cortisol and adrenaline than normally and switch to the ”savings mode”. At that point, your health and well-being are at risk and the harmful effects begin to come out.
ADRENAL FATIGUE ”IN PRACTICE”
- Your alarm clock rings 100 times but you don’t have the energy to get out of bed
- You get enough sleep but you almost never feel well-rested
- You could eat a whole pack of salty chips, olives and even lick a salt lamp just to satisfy your craving for salt
- You don’t have the strength for things that you used to love doing, such as dancing or riding a bike.
- Even simply getting up from a chair seems to be quite a challenge
- Daily activities such as cleaning, cooking, getting to work require from you at least 10 times more energy than before
- Sex is the last thing that you think of. Even if the hero of your sexual fantasies appeared in your bedroom, you would be more interested in the weather forecast for the next day
- Small things that you previously did not pay attention to, now drive you mad. You are aggressive and feel constantly anxious. Poor children, poor husband, poor neighbor, poor cashier at the supermarket …
- You can’t fight off infections and injuries. A cold you caught in October is still with you, although it is already the end of November. The minor finger injury does not heal for weeks.
- When you quickly get up from a chair or bed you feel dizzy as if you were about to faint
- You have depressive thoughts and ask yourself questions like ” Does my life has any meaning? ”
- You get no pleasure from work, relationship, family, and everything else that you used to enjoy
- If you are a female, your PMS reaches its zenith. You get swollen, even more tired, tense and you would only eat chocolate
- If you miss a meal, your symptoms intensify, so you always have something tasty at hand
- You can not gather your thoughts and focus on activities. A simple decision of what to wear is a life decision
- You start to be a fan of a ‘ zero tolerance ‘ principle. Other people frequently get on your nerves
- 10 am is not the time when you feel fully awake
- After dinner at 6 pm, you feel like a newborn
- Between 15.00 and 16.00 you feel like you swallowed a sleeping pill by mistake
Of course, these symptoms are not fun at all, so if you think you have at least 3 of them, it is worth checking if you are not on the way to the adrenal fatigue.
You can read more about adrenal glands on Wikipedia.
Unfortunately, the adrenal fatigue in light of academic medicine is not considered to be a serious condition so it is not being treated by the regular doctors, in contrary to Addison’s (an autoimmune disease) which is characterized by almost a total cessation of the adrenal glands work.
Reference: Dr. Med. James L. Wilson. Grundlos erschöpft? Nebennierenschwäche – das Stress Syndrome des 21. Jahrhunderts, Goldmann, 2011