Are you experiencing signs of adrenal fatigue?
Would you like to know more about this often misunderstood and under-diagnosed condition?
Be sure to keep reading to find 11 signs of adrenal fatigue you shouldn’t ignore (and tips to help you feel better!)
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What Is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is a tricky business.
What I mean by that is, first of all, adrenal fatigue isn’t the best term to describe the condition and associated symptoms.
It is one of the most commonly known terms though, which is the reason I use it here.
More doctors and health professionals have moved toward using terms like HPA axis dysfunction, OAT axis imbalance, or allostatic load because the adrenals are not necessarily fatigued when someone is experiencing symptoms, but instead, there is usually a disruption in the balance between the hypothalamus, adrenal, and pituitary glands.
It is not uncommon to have an imbalance between the ovaries, adrenals, and thyroid as well.
In many cases, these imbalances are caused by some kind of stress. This could include physical, mental, or emotional sources of stress.
For most people, it is often a combination of stressors that leads to hormone disruption and produces associated symptoms.
Another reason I say that adrenal fatigue is a tricky business is, symptoms can seem very general or unrelated.
Many of us don’t realize that these seemingly unrelated symptoms are really pointing at a specific problem until we were deep in the hole of exhaustion.
But, you don’t have to find yourself in a deep hole of exhaustion!
Let me share with you 11 signs of adrenal fatigue you shouldn’t ignore!
Symptoms Often Associated With Adrenal Fatigue
Since adrenal fatigue is not often recognized by conventional medicine doctors, it is great that you are doing your own research.
A problem you may run into though is that you will find conflicting information.
At the end of this post, I am sharing 11 common signs of adrenal fatigue, tips to help you on your health journey, and trusted resources where you can get additional information if you are interested!
11 Signs Of Adrenal Fatigue (And Tips To Help You Feel Better!)
Here are common signs of adrenal fatigue you shouldn’t ignore.
Feeling Tired In The Morning (Even After A Full Night’s Sleep)
If you find yourself tired in the morning after getting a full night’s sleep there could be a number of causes, including adrenal fatigue.
When your body is under constant stress, cortisol and other hormone levels are disrupted often causing you to feel tired or very slow to get moving in the morning.
*Tip: Have your cortisol (and other hormones) tested so that you can see exactly what is going on and then you can choose which direction to go.
Don’t try to blindly treat just based on symptoms! The more you know, the better 😉
Take the next step to better health by downloading this free checklist of tests you need to help you start on your road to recovery!
Being Very Tired In The Afternoon
Just like being very tired in the morning, having an afternoon slump is very common in those with adrenal fatigue.
Normally, cortisol levels peak in the morning and begin to taper off throughout the day.
If this normal rhythm is disrupted, or if you have too much or too little overall cortisol production, you may notice that you have times of energy and exhaustion at odd hours. (Or just exhaustion with no energy)
*Tip: To avoid the afternoon slump that is so commonly experienced by people with adrenal fatigue, try these easy lifestyle changes:
- Have a small snack with protein, complex carbs, and fat
- Take 10 minutes to breathe and relax (yoga or meditation is perfect for this!)
- Make sure that you have been drinking enough water and be sure to include hydrating drinks
- Stay away from blue lights (computer, tv, cellphone) at night or use blue light blocking amber glasses
- Get bright light in the morning to help regulate your circadian rhythm. If you do not have a good amount of sun in the morning this light therapy lamp can be really helpful!
Dealing with stress, hormone imbalances, blood sugar ups and downs, and not feeling well overall can certainly cause anyone to have mood swings.
If you have adrenal fatigue it means that you have been under stress, whether physical or mental (or both!) for far too long.
Notice yourself having mood swings? It could be a sign that you need to slow down and spend some time eating well, resting, and working to reduce stress.
*Tip: To reduce stress make sure you are getting enough quality sleep, eating properly, and generally taking good care of yourself.
If you find that you are experiencing mood swings and need a little help while making positive lifestyle changes, here are a few supplements you could try:
- Ashwagandha- This herb is considered an adaptogen, meaning it helps support the body during times of stress. It is often suggested to help with stress, anxiety, adrenal fatigue, and depression.
- Holy Basil– This is another herb that is considered an adaptogen. Many who take it report feeling calmer and a sense of well-being.
- Chamomile– Commonly used to relieve stress, anxiety, and is known to improve mood. Chamomile can be a wonderful choice for warm tea.
Related: Easy Ways To Reduce Stress Naturally
Weight Gain Or Inability To Lose Weight
When your hormones are not optimal, digestion and assimilation of food is often hindered. If you are under constant or extreme stress or have unknown food intolerances, you may not be able to lose weight.
Weight gain or the ability to lose weight is about so much more than eating less and exercising more, especially if you have adrenal fatigue.
Weight gain is a symptom and weight loss will happen naturally as you feed your body nourishing foods and heal underlying causes.
*Tip: One of the best things to do to aid in health, healing, and weight loss is to eat the right food! Many people are eating food that is considered healthy but may not be right for their individual bodies.
Brain fog is a frustrating symptom of many conditions. In many cases, it is caused by higher levels of inflammation, leaky gut, and hormone disruption, all of which are common causes of adrenal fatigue.
If you find yourself dealing with brain fog it can feel both scary and irritating. But just know that, like all symptoms, as you heal the fog will lift.
*Tip: Start working on gut and liver health. Improving gut and liver health can help lower inflammation, increase absorption of vitamins and minerals, eliminate bacteria and parasites, help digestion, and decrease or eliminate brain fog!
Check out my favorite gut and liver health supplements here:
Feeling Lightheaded Or Dizzy
Feeling lightheaded or dizzy is not uncommon if you have adrenal fatigue.
Causes of dizziness can include hypoglycemia, dehydration, low blood pressure, or autonomic nervous system dysfunction, to name a few.
*Tip: If you feel dizzy or lightheaded it is important to find the exact cause.
Since this is a symptom that could be related to many health conditions, it’s often necessary to partner with a doctor that practices integrative or functional medicine and is willing and able to dig into your health history, order full panel tests, and knows how to properly interpret results.
Need to find a functional medicine doctor near you?
Find one here!
Did you know that hypoglycemia symptoms are not uncommon in people with adrenal fatigue?
It’s not always easy to pinpoint the cause of dizziness but if you find that it’s due to hypoglycemia, eating small, nourishing meals throughout the day, hydrating properly, resting as much as possible, and taking steps to heal adrenal fatigue will go a long way in reducing or eliminating the feeling of dizziness.
In the case of adrenal fatigue, hypoglycemia often occurs because the body is not able to regulate hormones properly, making it difficult to regulate blood sugar levels.
Hypoglycemia can be difficult to diagnose because for many people, blood sugar numbers may look fine.
What may be happening is called reactive hypoglycemia.
This is when blood sugar numbers rise quickly after eating and fall quickly. Even if these numbers remain in the normal ranges the quick rise and fall can cause symptoms.
Since blood sugar balance involves a number of organs and systems it is important to take a whole-body approach to healing.
Like other symptoms, blood sugar balance will be achieved as healing progresses. In the meantime, be sure to eat small, balanced meals that include a complex carbohydrate, fat, and protein.
To balance blood sugar and achieve recovery it is essential to eliminate sugar, simple carbs, and for most, caffeine.
*Tip: Eliminate simple carbs, eat healthy protein, and be sure to include good fats in your diet! If you need a little support while making changes and finding balance, consider these helpful supplements:
Low Sex Drive
Low sex drive can be caused by many things. If you’re experiencing other symptoms of adrenal fatigue though, it’s not surprising if you don’t find yourself having those loving feelings.
When your body is stressed and you have unbalanced hormones, the little energy you do have is used for essential functions, and sex isn’t one of them.
Having a low (or non-existent) sex drive is just a symptom pointing to a larger issue.
If it is adrenal fatigue, the return of desire will often return as you heal and recover.
*Tip: When hormone imbalance occurs, loss of interest in sex is often one of the first symptoms we begin to notice.
To help with this issue it is essential to try to lessen both emotional and physical stress. Since stress is an inevitable part of life, it is important to give your body support too, and one way to do that is with supplements.
*My favorite supplement to help balance hormones, provide vitamins and minerals that are actually absorbable, and help boost energy is Earthley’s Nourish Her Naturally.
A person with adrenal fatigue could feel increased anxiety for a number of reasons, including:
- Unregulated blood sugar
- Hormone imbalance
- Poor gut health
- Low Vitamin D levels
To reduce or eliminate anxiety it is essential to find the root cause. Often once a person eats regular, balanced meals, hydrates properly, begins to clean up their gut health, and adds rest and relaxation into their routine, anxiety begins to lessen.
*Tip: While you’re finding the root cause of anxiety there are a few supplements that can help! Here are a few of my personal favorites:
A lesser-known symptom of adrenal fatigue is light sensitivity.
If you find yourself needing sunglasses or being bothered by bright lights, you may have a sodium-potassium imbalance which is not uncommon for those of us with adrenal fatigue.
If a person has dealt with chronic stress and begins experiencing symptoms of adrenal fatigue, both cortisol and aldosterone production can become exhausted.
When aldosterone levels are reduced the body is not able to regulate mineral and fluid levels properly, which then causes sodium to be removed from the body and this, in turn, causes water to be removed as well.
Because of this cascade of events, symptoms of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance begin to occur.
Interested in easy and delicious hydration recipes?
Download these free recipes here!
Because the adrenals and thyroid work so closely together, it stands to reason that if your adrenals are struggling due to chronic stress, so too is your thyroid.
Adrenal dysfunction or dysregulation can cause the thyroid to slow production, inhibit the conversion of hormones, and make thyroid receptors less sensitive.
Adrenal dysfunction is one of the reasons that many women can have normal thyroid test levels but still experience symptoms related to low thyroid. It is also the reason that many women who are taking medication for low thyroid do not have a resolution of symptoms.
*Tip: To balance the thyroid and reduce or eliminate symptoms it is necessary to support the adrenals as well as the thyroid.
To do this, you want to start with having the proper tests done, make any lifestyle changes necessary, reduce stress, and eat nourishing food.
In some instances, it may be necessary to start on medication for thyroid regulation or have your current dose adjusted.
If you are not on medication you can support your thyroid and adrenals with supplements if needed.
Depending on your personal tests, these supplements may be helpful:
- Natural Balance– perfect for supporting healthy adrenal function
- Thyroid Strength– a nourishing blend of minerals and herbs for thyroid balance
- Natural Vitamin C– much-needed vitamin for adrenal health and support
- Desiccated Liver Capsules– a nutrient-dense supplement that is high in iron, b-vitamins, and Vitamin A
Final Thoughts On 11 Signs Of Adrenal Fatigue…
The label, adrenal fatigue, is somewhat misleading because when a person experiences symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, weight gain, mood swings, thyroid imbalance, light sensitivity, or any of the other numerous symptoms associated with this condition, it is not that the adrenals are tired, there is actually an imbalance between the systems that are so intricately linked.
Because of the lack of acknowledgment and understanding by many doctors and the seemingly general symptoms that make up this condition, it can be frustrating and often seem like we take one step forward and two steps back during the diagnosis or healing process.
But a path to healing can be found!
If you have these 11 signs of adrenal fatigue, take your next step on the road to healing by finding a doctor that will work with you, getting proper testing, and incorporating lifestyle changes. Some targeting supplements may help too 😉
Good luck, I wish you the best on your journey!
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Hi, I’m Amy
I’m a Licensed Massage Therapist and have a degree in Human Services, but my most important job is being a wife and mom. My goal is to provide others with researched and reliable natural health information just for women so you too can live….
A Radiantly Healthy Life!