There is no formal medical criteria to define or diagnose adrenal fatigue. The term has been given to a group of symptoms, such as body aches, fatigue, nervousness, sleep disturbances and digestive problems.
The adrenals are two glands that sit above the kidneys and produce several hormones including cortisol. When under stress, we create and release small amounts of cortisol into the bloodstream. The theory behind the term adrenal fatigue suggests that prolonged stress could deplete the adrenal glands and lead to a low cortisol state. Such adrenal depletion could cause lack of concentration, low energy, a depressed mood, cravings for salt or sugar, jitters, and other nonspecific symptoms.
From a holistic view
I believe that Adrenal Fatigue results from the buildup of several modern lifestyle factors such as ongoing and relentless stress and pressure. It often manifests in the body as afternoon tiredness, anxiety and a general feeling of things not being ‘okay’.
I would say that most working professionals, mothers, working mothers, caregivers, students and many others have or have been in states of adrenal fatigue. It’s when you are using up your reserves of energy and nutrition faster than you replenishing them. This means the body doesn’t have the necessary support it needs.
It shows up in my clients as tension and swelling around the kidney acupressure points and it can often begin as unexplained afternoon tiredness. One of the mistakes people make is when they feel tired in the afternoon they will often take steps like having coffee or something sugary when really the body is saying I need a break.
I also see many of these people living a highly stressed life with big responsibilities and pressures in their work and home lives alongside unsupportive lifestyle factors such as poor diet and exercise routines which when combined can lead to them experiencing anxiety, insomnia and depression.
Lots of people I meet embrace and deal extremely well with high stress situations for long periods and because of this their bodies are under continual strain without let up, maintenance or support. They often become so depleted they reach burn out and adrenal fatigue.
A good analogy for this is a high performing racing car where, in order for it to continue performing at a high level it needs parts replaced regularly and frequent tune ups. Unfortunately, we don’t tend to do this for our own bodies, we simply carry on expecting our bodies to manage everything and unaware of the internal damage going on.
I teach people how to listen to their bodies and interpret the signs for what they are really saying, for example what does tiredness really mean?
For both adrenal and chronic fatigue, I will look at lifestyle factors, sleep patterns, and digestion. I find out their lifestyle rhythm and work on helping them restore that. I do this by relaxing the nervous system, rebalancing hormones, relaxing the digestive system. As these relax and fall back into a natural state the rebuild can happen.
It’s about creating a stable platform over time for the body to rebuild its energy stores. There is no one fix and there is not one factor that is causing the fatigue it’s a web of co-factors all linked together. By breaking down each co-factor, unravelling the web and approaching things holistically we can reset the body.
Recovering and resolving adrenal fatigue can be a long game and may require lifestyle changes including the introduction of regular eating and sleeping habits, high-quality nutritious diet, taking actions to reduce stress and anxiety and learning methods to ‘switch off’ the internal systems that need to rest and repair.