Do you always feel tired, but can’t explain it? Do you feel overwhelmed by the least stressful situations and find that you lack the energy to resolve problems? Do you lack enthusiasm or have a low libido (sex drive)? Do you struggle to wake up in the mornings even though you feel as though you are getting enough sleep? Do you crave salty foods and sweets or chocolates, coffee and other stimulants? Are you gaining weight unexpectedly? Are you coming down with a cold or flu more often than usual? If so, you may be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue.
Adrenal Fatigue results from prolonged mental, emotional or physical stress and occurs when your hormonal system begins to function at below optimum levels. If your adrenal glands (which produce stress hormones) are over stimulated for extended periods of time, they begin to weaken. Common causes of Adrenal Fatigue include long-term stress from work, studying or relationships, or chronic disease.
Now that you have recognised the symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue, you might want to know what is happening in your body when you experience it. The adrenal glands form part of an axis referred to as the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis, which controls how much of many hormones are released into our bodies. When we become stressed the hypothalamus sends a message to the pituitary gland, which carries a message to the adrenal glands to release stress hormones (cortisol and adrenalin) to prepare our body for ‘fight-or-flight’. This response is designed to protect us from immediate threats, but with the pressures of our modern lifestyles, there is a long-term elevation of stress hormones, which ultimately results in depletion as the axis is unable to cope with the burden. The symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue result from the disruption in the daily cortisol cycle, as well as the lower levels of cortisol and adrenalin.
So how do I treat Adrenal Fatigue? While it’s not as simple as popping a pill, it is certainly possible – depending on the severity. In my practice, I treat my patients’ as an individual and not as a disease. I enjoy getting to know my patients’ so that I can get a better understanding of your lifestyle so that I better know how to treat you. General protocol dictates that making use of ‘adaptogens’ re-sets the HPA axis and corrects the Adrenal Fatigue symptoms.