Do you ever feel tired for no reason? Burnt out? Needing coffee to get through the day? Do you crave sweets or salt or get sick more than usual?
If you have one or more of these symptoms, you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue or hypoadrenia. Although extremely common, this condition is often not recognized with conventional medicine because it will not show up on regular blood tests until it is very severe. However, it can be found while in earlier stages and treated successfully.
What is adrenal fatigue?
The adrenal glands are almond shape glands that are located on top of your kidneys responsible for producing many hormones. One of these is cortisol, commonly referred to as your stress hormone. It also plays a role in blood sugar regulation, anti-inflammation and supporting the immune system.
"When you are exposed to stress, whether it is emotional, physical or a combination, the adrenal gland responds by increasing cortisol," said Jodie Skillicorn, DO, Integrative Psychiatrist and co-founder of The Center for Integrative Psychiatry & Wellness. "When the stress is over, balance is restored. If the stress is prolonged, or you have one stress after another, the adrenal gland has trouble keeping up and eventually runs low on cortisol." This results in all or some of the symptoms previously mentioned.
Now, if we could regularly take an afternoon siesta or work less, eat all the right foods and exercise regularly, we would not have this issue. However, since this is not the case for many people, we need to learn to give our adrenals a rest for them to get better! Lifestyle changes are key to improving from adrenal fatigue. Since this can be difficult to implement, there are also ways to support the adrenals with combinations of supplements, herbs, and in some more severe cases, medicine.
"Adrenal fatigue is a good indicator that you need to start taking better care of yourself," Skillicorn said.
Testing for adrenal fatigue is best done through a saliva sample at four points during the day and assessing the diurnal cortisol curve along with several other hormones that are affected by low cortisol, such as female hormones, testosterone, immune function, and possibly GI function or food allergies (which can arise as a result of a chronic low cortisol state). The treatment always focuses on balancing the hormones, nutrition, sleep, emotions and stress, exercise, spirituality and energy.
Skillicorn and other physicians and health practitioners treat adrenal fatigue regularly at The Center located in Fairlawn, Ohio. A practitioner will typically customize a treatment plan depending on your symptoms and lifestyle. For more information, go to www.healingpsychiatry.com or call 330.441.4569.
Is it adrenal fatigue?
Check the list below for some of the symptoms and associated illnesses of adrenal fatigue.
• Fatigue, especially in the morning, not relieved by sleep
• Feel better in evening
• Decreased ability to handle stress
• Increased anxiety, irritability
• Excessive caffeine use
• Depression, anhedonia
• Deceased memory, focus
• Less productive
• Less tolerant of people around you
• Symptoms worse if you skip a meal
• Worse PMS symptoms
• Craving for salty food
• Increased effort to do daily tasks
• Decreased sex drive
• Light headed if stand up to fast
• Increased recovery time from illness or emotional trauma
• Recurrent infections
• GI illness
• Ischemic Heart Disease
• Rheumatoid Arthritis
• Chronic & recurrent respiratory infections
• GI symptoms