Do you often feel burned out?
Even if you rest or sleep, it seems as if it is impossible to regain your energy!
Have you gone into a room and suddenly stopped because you don’t remember what brought you there?
These are just some of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue syndrome.
Especially in menopause, many women suffer from this problem. How can you tell if you have adrenal fatigue? What is the best way to treat it? Let’s find out more about it in this article.
All about Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome
Adrenal fatigue is a syndrome characterized by an overwhelming level of stress. When this happens, your body may feel as if the world is dumping all of its stress on you. This is because hormone-releasing centers of the body (including the adrenal glands, the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands) are not functioning well due to chronic emotional, physical or mental stress.
This does not mean that the adrenal glands are malfunctioning. Rather, the adrenal glands are overworked and therefore produce too much cortisol. This in turn decreases the levels of other essential hormones. Furthermore, it makes it harder for the body to respond to stress and thus causes energy loss, fatigue, decreased physical performance and impaired cognitive function.
This syndrome may be confused with crashing fatigue, but it is a different condition. Crashing fatigue is a much less serious problem that can be relieved with sufficient rest and sleep. Adrenal fatigue syndrome, on the other hand, involves high cortisol levels and other chronic symptoms.
Adrenal Fatigue and Menopause
During our menopausal age, internal changes to the body are inevitable. There is a transition of the ovaries and their functions. The ovaries tend to slow down, causing the adrenal glands to serve as their back up. However, when the adrenal glands become fatigued, a domino effect of symptoms may occur.
As a result, you start to feel older. You have mood changes, you gain weight and you experience hot flashes and night sweats and other symptoms. Sleepless nights and memory lapses may also be common. As Dr. Berg explains it, the adrenal glands become the weakest link in this situation. To help us learn more about the relationship between adrenal fatigue syndrome and menopause, here’s a video by Dr. Berg on the subject (2:09):
How Will I Feel?
There are three stages to adrenal fatigue syndrome, and different bodily changes occur during each stage.
Stage 1: There is too much cortisol in the body.
As a result, you are suddenly energized and charged. It seems as if you are suddenly feeling awake and alert. You may experience it as a sudden, weird adrenalin rush. Many people will not be bothered during this stage, because they will sometimes think that it’s a good feeling. And, as Dr. Mercola says, they could be experiencing an “enjoyable type of stress.” Remaining in stage one too long with consistently high cortisol levels can lead to the second stage.
Stage 2: Cortisol levels begin to drop.
This is the stage when weight gain, decreased sex drive and sleeping difficulties arise. When you wake up in the middle of the night, you’ll find it hard to go back to sleep. By this time, you may start to notice that there could be a problem. Remaining too long in this stage can lead to stage three.
Stage 3: Cortisol levels are low all the time.
You experience extreme exhaustion or burnout. No matter how long you try to sleep, you will still feel tired. You’ll feel chronically fatigued and unable to regain your energy even if you rest. This stage may cause you to have a suppressed immune system, and you are at risk for developing autoimmune diseases.
Due to the changes that happen when this syndrome strikes, the hormonal imbalance may cause various problems in the body. However, the effects are varied in each person. Additionally, adrenal fatigue symptoms can be classified into common and less common types.
- Increased levels of fatigue, leaving you with very low energy throughout the day.
- Bouncing or spiked energy in the evening.
- Feelings of extreme exhaustion despite long hours of sleep.
- Unable to handle stress, whether it’s emotional or physical.
- Lack of enthusiasm, apathy, irritable and anxious.
- Cravings for salty foods due to mineral imbalances (sodium, potassium and magnesium).
- Vulnerable immune system.
- Unfavorable sleep patterns.
- Dry skin
- Dark circles and bags under eyes.
Less Common Symptoms
- Extreme tiredness, one hour after working out.
- Pain in the lower back, joint pain, and numbness in the fingers, due to poor blood circulation.
- Decreased sex drive and frequent urination.
- Weight gain.
Every person with adrenal fatigue syndrome may experience varied symptoms. What is important is that you should not wait for the next adrenal fatigue stage to happen. Make sure you recharge and prevent anything more serious from developing.
What Do I Do?
If you can relate to most of the adrenal fatigue symptoms above, there are some things you can do at home. You may not need to visit a doctor yet if you think you can handle your symptoms. However, if you find it difficult to control your symptoms, consult your physician about it.
Embrace the adrenal fatigue diet
Dr. Josh Axe has devised an adrenal diet that allows you to focus on what you can eat, rather than what you cannot eat. It is not good to starve yourself, because it will only make you eat more. Eating healthy at the right time is the best thing to do while treating your adrenal concerns. Here are some of the things that you can enjoy eating:
- Healthy seeds, including chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and more.
- Healthy nuts, like almonds, walnuts and others.
- Coconut and avocados are superfoods that are best for your adrenals too!
- Fatty fish, like salmon and tuna.
- Chicken and turkey.
- Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower.
- Sea vegetables, including kelp and more.
- Sea salt (Himalayan salt is the best).
You may want to skip some other types of food as well. Avoid food and beverages that are rich in caffeine, sugar and hydrogenated oils. You may especially want to avoid processed and microwaved food, as well as those with artificial sweeteners.
Refresh with water constantly
Dehydration may worsen adrenal fatigue symptoms, so it is best to help your body with some refreshing water. Avoid alternative beverages, which usually don’t contain the natural minerals found in water. You may also enjoy adding lemon juice or a dash of Himalayan sea salt to your water to help increase cellular absorption.
Say goodbye to stress
- If you feel tired, take the time to rest.
- Get sound sleep. Eight to 10 hours daily is recommended.
- Practice a favorable sleep pattern. Avoid staying up late.
- Minimize stress at work, at home or in your relationships.
- Laugh a lot! Do what you love, and love what you do.
- Avoid toxic people.
- If you experienced emotional trauma, get support from your family and friends. In serious cases, seek the help of a counselor.
Befriend some adrenal fatigue supplements
Feed your body with supplements that are healthy for your adrenals. Vitamins and minerals that are helpful for adrenal fatigue syndrome include vitamins B, C and D, magnesium and zinc. Some adaptogenic herbs, such as licorice root and ashwagandha, are also known to help with symptom management.
Enjoy your workout routines
Any form of exercise is a stress reducer! Chase away your worries, anxiety and depression with an enjoyable exercise routine. This doesn’t mean that you have to undergo a rigorous workout. Remember that over-exercising can also cause your adrenals to crash, and we don’t want that. A friendly tip is to choose workout routines that you love! Find simple forms of exercise that are also great for menopause. Check out our exercise posts to choose a workout routine that’s best for you!
Return to Mother Earth
Have you tried grounding or earthing? It is an ancient practice of placing your bare feet on the ground, feeling the grass, the sands or the earth. Walking barefoot in the garden or along the beach allows you to experience a sense of well-being. In fact, one study has found that grounding the body decreases cortisol, improves sleep and reduces pain!
Learn how to embrace your being. Accept and love yourself as you are. Love yourself, including your imperfections. Did you know that the words you say to yourself can affect your body? Practice positive self-talk, because this can help you heal from within. It will help you feel lighter and stronger from the inside out.
If you think your symptoms are severe and cannot be relieved by simple home measures, it is important to see your doctor and talk to him or her about it.
Learning more about Adrenal Fatigue
Here's another great video from Dr. Eric Berg where he explains more about adrenal fatigue syndrome, how to test yourself, and a tip to help you feel better (9:02):
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Have you felt any of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue? How did you deal with them?
- Dr. Joseph Mercola “The Kalish Method—An Effective Way to Address and Heal Adrenal Fatigue“
- Dr. Robin Berzin “9 Steps To Heal Adrenal Fatigue Naturally“
- Michael Lam MD “Adrenal Fatigue and Adrenal Support“
- Ghaly M., Teplitz D. “The biologic effects of grounding the human body during sleep as measured by cortisol levels and subjective reporting of sleep, pain, and stress.“
- James Oschman “Biophysics of Earthing (Grounding) the Human Body“