- Do you find yourself wishing you could have more time—time to do just . . . nothing?
- Do you feel sad by Sunday evening because that means it’s going to be Monday in a few hours?
- Do you sometimes feel as if you’ve lost the usual energy to do things you used to enjoy?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you could be one among the millions who are suffering from stress.
Just how serious has stress become? Serious enough, apparently, for the World Health Organization to sound the alarms and call stress “a worldwide epidemic.”
Stress can leave you feeling exhausted from doing too much (or working too hard) and not having enough time for yourself. No wonder you always feel tired and sometimes have zero to low enthusiasm for any other activities.
“Don’t forget to take care of yourself!” is an oft-repeated piece of advice. But sometimes even taking time out for some self-care seems to have little effect on helping you get your “groove” back.
There is plenty of medical evidence to back up the negative impact of long-term stress on the body, one of which is adrenal fatigue. And while it might not be a formal assessment you’ll hear from doctors, it’s an incontrovertible fact that adrenal fatigue can significantly affect your quality of life.
Lifestyle changes such as exercise and a healthy diet can help ease some of the negative symptoms of stress. But if you’ve tried either of these and gotten little to no results, the good news is there are more proactive ways you can bring back your inner balance.
Stress and Adrenal Glands: They’re More Connected than You Think
During episodes of high or prolonged stress, our body goes into survival mode in response to what it perceives is a threat to its survival. While in survival mode, your body prepares to expend more energy (in anticipation of the immediate removal of such threat). Raising your cortisol levels is one of the ways your body makes sure you have enough fuel during such a situation.
Ever heard of “fight-or-flight” response? This is our body’s biologically hard-wired response to threatening situations—stress included.
When your body detects that you are under stress, it prepares to go into “fight” mode by activating the secretion of cortisol via your adrenal glands. The secretion of cortisol assures that you are better able to survive these situations by inhibiting insulin production, making you more awake (and hence better able to react), and inhibiting the immune system (which can reduce your body’s energy stores).
Secreting cortisol is helpful in the short-term since it allows your body to budget its resources, using up energy only on what it determines is essential.
Over time, however, such as during periods of chronic stress, this can have a deleterious effect on you and your body.
Knowing the Signs of Adrenal Fatigue
Anyone who’s undergone stress is all too familiar with that sinking feeling at the pit of the stomach, sometimes accompanied by headache and a host of other unpleasant sensations. Stress can literally make you feel ill, no thanks to all that cortisol in your body.
Avoiding your usual sources of stress might help, but it is no guarantee that it will restore your body to health. This is especially true if you’ve been experiencing chronic or long-term stress. Just like a machine that malfunctions when it’s used beyond its capacity, your adrenal glands can get overworked overtime. When it does, it might not be as efficient in producing cortisol. When this happens, your body suffers. In particular, it won’t be as efficient in regulating your blood sugar, sleep, or your immune system.
Do you suspect that you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue? Look out for the following signs:
- Feeling sleepy even when it’s still daytime
- Trouble sleeping, or experiencing sleep disturbances
- Frequently feeling helpless or overwhelmed
- “Stress eating”—that is, getting the munchies
- Having difficulty keeping warm
- Chronic tiredness
- Weakness, or constantly feeling like you’re going to get sick
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering (otherwise known as “brain fog”)
Chronic stress oftentimes results from poor emotional health. Other than that, a prior untended injury, sickness, inadequate nutrition, as well as exposure to harmful toxins and environmental pollutants can also cause chronic stress, making you susceptible to adrenal fatigue.
Whatever may be at the root of the problem, sometimes your adrenal glands may fail to recover from being constantly exposed to stress.
The good news is that you can give your adrenal glands the help it needs to recover from stress and get you started on the road to wellness.
Recovering from Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal fatigue may sound serious (and to be certain, it will require long-term health management), but it isn’t incurable. Treatment options for adrenal fatigue exist, and usually requires advanced treatment. The key is acting quickly to curb its effects.
Step one: The moment you suspect you may be experiencing any of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue, seek out medical help to confirm if your adrenal glands have indeed taken a hit due to stress.
How do physicians assess adrenal fatigue? A saliva test (to check for the presence of cortisol) will usually confirm it. Aside from this, high cortisol levels may also be detected via a blood test or urinalysis.
Once your doctor confirms that adrenal fatigue is at the root of your symptoms, he or she can suggest an appropriate treatment option. This will most likely consist of making changes to your lifestyle, but other than this, your physician may suggest bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT).
Why BHRT? BHRT can help provide sufficient cortisol to your body when your adrenal glands are no longer able to. BHRT typically enjoys high success rates among those experiencing adrenal fatigue; bioidentical hormones are made to be as chemically similar with the hormones your body naturally produces, which ensures it is well-tolerated by the body. Complemented with customized treatment, BHRT guarantees quick and complete recovery.
The effects of chronic stress are far-reaching and, when left unchecked, can leave your body more run down than it already is. While it may take some time to undo all the damage stress has wrought on your body, committing to a wholesome lifestyle, along with undergoing BHRT, will definitely put you right back on the path to health. Click here to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Fleischman, our Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy specialist.