Stress tips: How could adrenal fatigue be affecting your life?
How many of us feel as if we are constantly under stress these days? Managing stress can be a tricky thing; I know, I have been there, plummeting to near-burnout in 2004, and resurfacing with new vigour after piecing together a holistic health system to help both myself and my clients. It was not a pleasant experience, and it was great to experience vitality again…
Adrenal Fatigue is a name now being coined (not by doctors, who will tend not to recognise the syndrome) for the effects of this chronic day to day stress upon the body. Our adrenal glands are in overdrive trying to cope, releasing almost constant cortisol to a degree that our bodies were never intended to cope with.
Our adrenal glands are small endocrine (hormone-producing) glands situated above the kidneys. They release the hormone cortisol in response to stress – this is a catabolic or “breaking down” type hormone. The adrenal glands also release DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone, which is a natural anabolic steroid with anti-ageing effects.
If our adrenals are producing an excess of cortisol, such as happens when we are under stress – which may be from work, family, finances, over-exercising, or other sources – the building blocks for DHEA are diverted and we end up with less DHEA production. Also the flexibility in the system, and ability for the cortisol levels to recover to the low natural background levels after a stress, are reduced with age – so the ravages of stress are multiplied with natural ageing…
The complicating factor is that the sex steroid hormones are all linked together, one being created from another in a cascade, so levels of one hormone such as progesterone will affect others such as testosterone.
So what symptoms would you get with adrenal fatigue? Classically a feeling of general tiredness – “TATT” or “tired all the time” – which is such a common symptom now; a real problem with getting up in the mornings as the energy levels are at an all time lul at that point in the day; you may feel more energetic after 6pm in the evening, although this is by no means universal; and people often find they self-medicate with caffeine or carbs and sugars in a vain attempt to keep their energy levels up.
If you feel that you may be suffering from adrenal stress or fatigue, do consider having hormone levels done – a self managed saliva test can be very helpful (not on the NHS if you are in the UK). It may well be worth your while to work with a trusted holistic healthcare professional who understands the impact of your lifestyle and nutrition on your stress levels and reaction to stress, to come up with a plan going forward.
DHEA is one of the bio-identical hormones that I work with in my holistic medical practice, along with bio-identical (chemically the identical to our own hormones, as opposed to HRT) progesterone and oestrogens.
Wishing you Health and Wellness!
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