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Is it adrenal fatigue or are you really tired?

Have you ever had this super fun combination of stress and absolutely no energy? Although you may feel stressed and tired through the litany of horrors on the news or just from a dogged Facebook feed, it could also lead to an adrenal imbalance that aggravates your symptoms. However, your adrenal glands may have nothing to do with it. Adrenal fatigue has become a hot diagnosis of naturopathic and naturopathic practitioners, but the traditional medical community is not jumping on the fatigue trail.

Before you think about your hormonal balance, you should know all about the fatigue of the adrenal glands here. the controversy surrounding the disease and what to do when symptoms occur.

What are the adrenal glands?

The adrenal glands are responsible for regulating a number of hormones that affect the metabolism, blood pressure and immune system response. The real star of the adrenal gland show, however, is stress.

Both cortisol and adrenaline are regulated by the adrenal glands. Adrenaline (and its close cousin norepinephrine) becomes involved in stressful times when the body triggers the "fight-or-flight" response. You know, that feeling when you see an absolutely awful tweet and are not sure if you should spend the day disassembling the troll or hiding under cover for a few hours.

Cortisol takes control in lower-level stress. The hormone is increased in stress situations and causes your heart rate to increase, that you can metabolize sugar faster, and usually things are moved to respond to non-relaxing situations.



What is Adrenal Fatigue?

In 1998, James Wilson, DC, coined the term "adrenal fatigue," which is also referred to as Adrenal Stress, Adrenal Exhaustion, Hypoadrenalism, or "That Where." You're tired all the time, and I think 'It's stress or something,' when you talk to your mother's friend, who saw something about adrenal fatigue in a Whole Foods checkout magazine.

Adrenal fatigue does not mean you have sleepy little glands that open Some physicians believe that it is caused by overstressing the adrenal glands, and when your body is exposed to permanent stress and your adrenal glands constantly pump out hormones to cope, they eventually become tired, and the adrenal glands can not produce enough hormones to cope with chronic stress.

When the glands are exhausted, Wilson says you may experience a number of symptoms, w ie:

  • fatigue
  • Weight gain / inability to lose weight
  • Brain fog
  • Feeling run-down or overwhelmed
  • craving for salty or sweet snacks
  • Problems in rebounding from stress

Adrenal fatigue differs of Addison's disease or adrenaline insufficiency. In these diseases, the adrenal gland is physically damaged (often due to autoimmune problems) and can not produce the right hormones. In adrenal fatigue, the adrenals are physically intact and no longer function properly.

It's basically a condition caused by too much stress, and Wilson claims that this disease is caused by the added stress of the modern world. Although we may have fewer real "fight-or-flight" moments than our ancestors, we are tethered to low-level stress patients at almost all hours of the day. Sure, early humans had to build their home from hard-to-process footage and fend off bear attacks, but they did not check their phone at 1am to make sure their boss was not mad at them.

But is adrenal fatigue really?

"Adrenal fatigue does not exist: a systematic review," say scientists at the Federal University of Sao Paulo that adrenal fatigue is definitely real. Was just a joke! The title pretty much reveals it. When these experts searched 3,470 studies on PubMed on adrenal fatigue, they found no substantial evidence that it was a true disease. Previous studies supporting adrenal fatigue have not measured the patient's stress hormones correctly, and there have been a few scientifically-based studies on the disease.

The endocrine news found that most of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue do not match the symptoms of adrenal insufficiency, the scientifically proven disease. In case of insufficiency you will see weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, fatigue and low blood pressure. With fatigue, people complain that they feel tired, do not want to get out of bed, crave junk food, and gain weight. Although both illnesses make you tired, it makes no sense that an adrenal insufficiency (caused by damaged glands) from an adrenal gland, which is simply pushed too far to produce enough hormones, would cause so many different symptoms.

Fuel for "adrenal fatigue is a myth" fire, the Endocrine Society does not recognize it as a real disorder, and Google is littered with articles such as "Adrenal Fatigue: A Fake Disease" from qualified healthcare professionals , In short, the medical community believes that adrenal fatigue is completely playful.

If adrenal fatigue is wrong, why do I hear so much about it?

When Wilson coined the term "adrenal fatigue," he gave a name to a variety of symptoms that plagued many patients. Even today, he uses this questionnaire as a primary diagnostic tool. Here are some sample questions in which you evaluate each answer on a scale from 0 (never) to 3 (intense or frequent):

  • My ability to deal with stress or stress has diminished.
  • My thinking is confused or under pressure.
  • My muscles sometimes feel weaker than they should.
  • I often become hungry, confused, shaky or slightly paralyzed.
  • I'm having trouble getting up in the morning.
  • I need coffee or some other stimulant to get up in the morning.

How did you do the quiz? You probably have quite a few 2s and 3s, right? Of course! Every time I look at the quiz I think Oh crap, I probably have this because it shows many symptoms that are incredibly common . To be honest, the whole quiz is much longer than this and some of the questions are pretty specific ("I get pain in the muscles on the side of my neck" and "My best, refreshing sleep comes at 7 – 9 in the morning" .)). However, most questions are vague and apply to a large number of people.

Wilson published his theory of adrenal exhaustion with a version of this quiz in his book Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome This book was recognized by some medical societies, although, according to Cedar-Sinai was not supported by an official US Food and Drug Administration.

Because the symptoms are so common and adrenal fatigue finally seemed to give people an answer The question, "Why am I tired all the time, can not lose weight and feel foggy" – a lot of people have supported (and support) this diagnosis she still). "Adrenal fatigue can have serious symptoms on the body," says Suzanne Demers, DC, a functional medicine doctor. "Many people will gain weight and will not be able to lose weight, and they may also feel mild depression or a reduction in their ability to manage stress."

Demers is not alone, as many alternative practitioners and alternative doctors believe in adrenal fatigue. Most will claim that conventional medicine has not caught up with their knowledge of the disease (as Dr. Wilson does in his place).

Although the evidence does not support adrenal fatigue, does not] 100 percent prove it does not exist. In 1981, Barry Marshall, MD discovered that most ulcers were caused by a particular bacterium, but the medical community rejected his hypothesis. His ideas made themselves felt only when he drank the bacteria, gave himself an ulcer and solved it with simple antibiotics. In 2005, he received a Nobel Prize for his scientific breakthrough.

Well, this one story does not prove that scientists are always wrong. It simply shows that discoveries can happen that the medical community does not automatically agree with. In the case of adrenal fatigue, it is very unlikely that the medical community is wrong. But naturopaths and people seeking alternative treatments have enough doubts to believe in fatigue.



But I have symptoms of adrenal fatigue – what can I do?

Here's the thing. Even though the adrenal fatigue is not real, are your symptoms. Feeling tired all the time, moody, moody, stressed, stressed and depressed are all real things and you should not feel that way. For those stubborn symptoms, it's best to tell your doctor that you're trying to get a more accurate diagnosis. If you have already seen the doctor or your symptoms are mild and you want to find out for yourself, there are some important potential debtors for the symptoms of adrenal fatigue.

If it is not adrenal fatigue, what is it?

Although studies show that stress does not wear off your adrenal glands, this does not mean stress has no consequences for your body. An article from the University of Miami found that chronic stress directly led to hypertension and decreased immune response. When the stress hormones remained high, the patients recovered more slowly from the disease and became more easily ill. The paper also found that symptoms that are usually associated with vomiting (fatigue, malaise, no appetite) were not caused by the disease, but by the body's attempt to mend. Basically, the fight against a cold causes all those crappy feelings, not the actual cold itself.

A study from University College London found a positive association between chronic high cortisol and obesity. This does not prove that stress causes weight gain but shows that high-stress hormones can be the cause. Even if high cortisol levels are not the main cause, stress has a clear weight-bearing effect as most people turn to food or alcohol when they lose their stress. If you feel constantly stressed and repeatedly use ice and nachos to calm you down, weight gain is likely. At least that's exactly what I did in a very stressful time, and, boy, I've gained weight! Obviously, not everyone responds to stress with food, but that certainly happens.

Stress can therefore cause fatigue, malaise, no appetite, more appetite, high blood pressure, decreased immune response and weight gain – almost all the symptoms of adrenal fatigue.

If you really do not believe that stress is the problem, it could be depression. Well, depression sounds very scary and bad, but they are common and treatable. About 16 million Americans have severe depressive disorder, while 6.8 million adults have a generalized anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).

Before you think I'm not definitely not depressed Here are some of the main symptoms (about the ADAA):

  • Persistent sad, anxious or empty mood
  • Reduced energy or increased fatigue
  • Insomnia that wakes up at odd hours, or oversleeping
  • Weight gain
  • Weight loss
  • Resting
  • Headaches, indigestion and pain that seemingly have no other cause and do not respond to treatment

Sounds very much after the symptoms of fatigue of the adrenals, what? Depression is not only sad, it can also manifest in complex physical and emotional ways. On the example of myself, I had terrible pain in the stomach, which nobody could find out (even after $ 4,000 test value. Thank you, shitty insurance!). But when I finally got help for my thoroughly severe depression, that pain went away.

Well, it may not be very reassuring to hear, "it's just stress or maybe depression". However, you can do a lot to combat the symptoms of stress, even without seeing a doctor. However, if you think of depression, it is definitely worth visiting a psychologist to get a complete diagnosis and treatment options.

Alternatively, you may have dysfunction of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis (say that this is five times fast). In any case, if you've seen many of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue, your doctor will almost certainly want you to get a full workout for fatigue in general.

How to Feel Better

Many proposals to combat adrenal fatigue are also helpful in stress or mild mood disorders. They are not always easy, but the proposed changes in diet and lifestyle can alleviate your symptoms.


The most important thing you need to do for your symptoms is relieve stress and a good way to do that is to get more sleep. Have you ever started to cry about something because you were just too tired to handle it? I have! By simply getting enough sleep, you can immediately relieve some of the adrenal fatigue related symptoms.

"Stay with a regular sleep plan of 8-10 hours a night," says Demers. This increases mental clarity, improves your mood and makes it easier to deal with stressful situations. 8-10 (10!) Getting one night is easier said than done, especially if you have children. Demers recommends going to bed at the same time every night and doing something (even walking) during the day. The combination of routine and exercise of your body will help you relax at night and get to Snooze Town a little faster.

Change Your Diet

Because inflammation is one of the main causes of internal stress you should cut out pro-inflammatory foods and add healthy fats and natural anti-inflammatory ingredients.

Foods that you should eat more often contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that help to reduce inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for fighting the symptoms of adrenal fatigue, says Barry Sears, founder of the Inflammation Research Foundation and author of The Zone Diet . He recommends taking fish oil supplements to get a high, concentrated dose of Omega-3 fatty acids. "If you increase the intake of omega-3 fatty acids, you reduce the production of pro-inflammatory hormones (eicosanoids)," says Sears. This helps against the effects of chronic stress on the body. When the inflammation goes down, people usually feel more energetic and suffer from weight loss.

This dietary approach does not work overnight, but after 4-6 weeks the symptoms should change. If, after a few months, this dieting turns out to annoy you with all the coffee you can not drink, maybe it's time to see a doctor and reevaluate your symptoms.

Just Straight Increase Your Stress

The best way to combat the symptoms of adrenal fatigue is to lower your stress. Just right? Nothing is more reassuring than someone who tells you, "Relax, relax now, or your health will be forever gone!"

You can not expect stress to disappear immediately, but you can find ways to relax. To continue overcoming your stressors, you must first identify them. Take a few minutes to list everything that bothers you. It does not matter if it's a huge deal like debt, or a trifle like a comrade playing games with high volume on the phone – make a note of it. Then see if there are any stress factors that you can eliminate. Sure, you can not magically erase big stressors, but taking away some of the little things can make a big difference.

"Most importantly, you plan your time every week or every other week," says Demers. Take at least two hours a week to be completely alone and do whatever you want. You do not need to think about work or plan your trip to the grocery store. Instead, use these two hours to quietly read, massage or sit in the park. Honestly, you could stare at a wall or sing Real Housewive – just do anything that feels reassuring. And no matter how busy you are, put this "I-time" on the calendar and stick to it.

I still think it might be an adrenal problem

If you're concerned that you have Addison's disease or adrenal insufficiency, it's best to perform ACTH pacing tests. You give a little blood, then take a shot of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and give blood again. In essence, this shows how your body responds to the cue to give cortisol. This test can not confirm adrenal fatigue, but will help diagnose even more severe adrenal dysfunction.

If you or a doctor still think it could be adrenal fatigue, you can ask for a saliva test. The Cortisol / DHEAS Saliva Test measures the stress hormones in your spit and how they change throughout the day. If your results have a low adrenal function, you can talk to your doctor (or make some of the suggested changes in diet and lifestyle.) This article). Now, this test is not recognized as the right test for cortisol levels and was rated as flawed by 61 percent of patients, according to the Harvard Health Blog. However, if you are curious about your hormone levels throughout the day, this test will give you an insight into what's going on in your body.

Adrenal fatigue may or may not be real, but does not mean your symptoms are "invented" or "everything in your head". It is more likely that general stress is the cause and is fused in various ways with your body. If your symptoms are severe, consult a doctor and a psychiatrist. In the meantime, you can take note of your symptoms or try some diet changes and see if they make a difference. Above all, try to reduce your stress. Regardless of the official diagnosis, relaxation is a medicine that we should all take.

Amber Petty is a L.A.-based writer and a regular contributor to Greatist. Follow her as she describes her weight loss journey in her new bimonthly Slim Chance column. Join Sing a Different Tune singing lessons and follow her on Instagram @ambernpetty.

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