What Is Adrenal Fatigue?
Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. And just like other hormones, your body needs a specific amount of cortisol to function optimally. Too much or too little and your body won’t be at its healthiest.
When your body is under stress, your adrenal glands pump out large quantities of cortisol. If this goes on for too long, your adrenal glands tire out, and eventually can’t produce the small quantities of cortisol the body actually needs on a day to day basis. This is called adrenal fatigue.
Women suffering from adrenal fatigue live with a general sense of feeling tired and generally unwell. Many rely on caffeine and other stimulants to keep themselves going.
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More On Adrenal Fatigue
The adrenal glands are responsible for mobilizing the body’s responses to every kind of stress you can think of (whether it’s physical, emotional, or psychological). These responses are initiated through hormones (particularly cortisiol), and include things like energy production, immune function, and heart rate. Prolonged stress causes the adrenals to be over-stimulated, especially in the production of cortisol. The result is adrenal fatigue.
During adrenal fatigue, your adrenal glands function, but not well enough to maintain optimal levels of cortisol. Most adrenal fatigue is the consequence of ongoing daily stress. However, there are other factors that can cause you to become even more susceptible to adrenal fatigue. These include poor diet, substance abuse, inadequate sleep and rest, chronic illness, and hormone imbalance.
Some Facts About Adrenal Fatigue:
- Over-stimulation of your adrenal glands can be caused by a very intense single stressor, or by chronic or repeated stressors that have a cumulative effect.
- Research suggests that 50-80% of women have some degree of adrenal fatigue due to stress or stress-related challenges.
- Cortisol plays a pivotal role in hormone balance overall. For example, proper thyroid function is dependent upon balanced levels of cortisol.
Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may suffer from adrenal fatigue:
- You feel tired for no reason (i.e. fatigue).
- You have trouble getting up in the morning, even when you go to bed at a reasonable hour.
- You have insomnia.
- You feel more awake and energetic after 6 p.m. than you do the rest of the day.
- You feel rundown or overwhelmed.
- You’re having problems with mood instability (specifically mild depression and/or anxiety).
- You’re struggling with frequent illness.
- You have a difficult time bouncing back from stress or illness.
- You crave salty and sweet snacks and are struggling with weight gain.
- You have a low sex drive.
- You can’t concentrate and/or you’re having memory problems (i.e. memory loss).
Adrenal Fatigue Treatment for Women
Adrenal fatigue can wreak havoc on a woman’s life. With each increment of reduced adrenal function, every organ and system in the body is more profoundly affected. As adrenal fatigue worsens, changes occur in your metabolism, your fluid and electrolyte balance, your heart and cardiovascular system, and even your sex drive. Unfortunately, this just scratches the surface. Numerous biochemical changes take place at the cellular level as your body tries to compensate for inadequate supplies of cortisol.
If you suffer from adrenal fatigue, your body will do its best to compensate for under-functioning adrenal glands; but it does so at a price. The price is hormone imbalance and all its undesired consequences.
But you don’t have to resign yourself to adrenal fatigue and the challenges it brings with it.