In my blog Spiritual Support for Your Adrenals, I explain the physical and emotional triggers that can lead to adrenal fatigue. But how do you know you have adrenal fatigue?
Some of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue, or adrenal exhaustion, include:
- relentless and debilitating fatigue
- depressed mood
- loss of interest in life
- low energy
- an inability to carry out your normal day-to-day activities.
Now, if you have low thyroid function or low-level depression, you may have similar health complaints as someone with adrenal exhaustion. It’s always a good idea to check your thyroid function if you are fatigued. And, before starting any antidepressants, make sure that both your thyroid and your adrenals are functioning properly.
Do You Have Adrenal Fatigue?
For someone with true adrenal fatigue a typical day might look like this:
You awaken feeling groggy and have difficulty dragging yourself out of bed. You can’t get going without that first cup or two of coffee. You rely on sugary snacks and caffeine to get through the day, particularly in the late morning or afternoon. At night, though exhausted, you have difficulty falling asleep as the worries of the day keep replaying in your mind. You sometimes wonder what happened to your interest in sex.
If this describes you, you may have suboptimal adrenal function. This scenario indications that the balance between cortisol and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is off – specifically, that cortisol levels are too high in relation to DHEA.
Remember, cortisol is your fight or flight hormone. In the right amounts, it can enhance your body’s natural resistance and endurance. But too much cortisol can contribute to insulin resistance and a whole host of issues. DHEA helps to balance the negative effects of too much cortisol.
DHEA has many benefits too, including improving your energy, vitality, sleep, and mental clarity. It can also reduce PMS symptoms, help the body recover from acute stress or trauma; and may help the body maintain its bones and muscle mass. However, the more stress your body experiences, the less likely it is to produce enough DHEA. To compound matters, DHEA levels drop as part of the aging process (in some women). This explains why adrenal exhaustion at midlife can be particularly trying.
Diagnosing Adrenal Exhaustion
It is rare for a doctor practicing conventional medicine to give you a diagnosis of adrenal exhaustion, even if you have all the symptoms above. But when it comes to DHEA, I do not suggest you diagnose yourself or begin treating it without first discussing your concerns with a medical practitioner.
One thing I recommend is that you have your doctor prescribe the Dutch Test, which is short for Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones. This test offers the most complete assessment of sex and adrenal hormones, along with their metabolites, in one easy-to-administer test. It’s great for baseline measurements of women with hormonal imbalances and for Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) monitoring. After utilizing the DUTCH test, you will be able to work with your medical provider to continue to track and evaluate hormone levels, ensuring they are at their optimum balance.
Now, if you have Adrenal Exhaustion, know that physical symptoms do not always go away with treatment. Remember that true healing of any kind comes when you address the circumstances in your life that are the ultimate cause of your physical condition.
Your diet and supplementation, exercise, and sleep routines are good areas to start with. Adopting healthier habits in these areas may give you a healthier foundation from which to address the underlying causes.
For information on ways to heal Adrenal Exhaustion, see Adrenal Fatigue: Symptoms and Healing Alternatives.
Related Video: The Number One Endocrine Disruptor?