Adrenal Fatigue

 

 

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Are you feeling anxious, depressed, and irritable? How about experiencing brain fog, cravings for sugar and salt, night sweats, and troubles sleeping?  If so, you could very well be suffering from adrenal fatigue.   Adrenal glands are the endocrine glands that produce a number of hormones including adrenaline and the steroids aldosterone and cortisol.  These are the hormones released in response to stress.  It’s our “fight or flight” gland. Of course this release of hormones can be very beneficial in times of extreme stress (i.e., when you need to swerve your car to avoid an accident).  However, if we take a handful of chronic life stressors (say a job change, divorce, death of a loved one, diagnosis of an illness, birth of a new baby, sick kids, over scheduling social activities, etc.) and put them all together at once, our adrenals start to be taxed and have a lower level of hormones to produce.  Some or all of symptoms (anxiety, depression, irritability, difficulty concentrating, cravings for sugar and salt, and insomnia/restless sleep, night sweats, etc.)  can set in and if ignored, only make it more challenging to cope with additional stressors.

Lifestyle, relationships, hormone levels, activity, and nutrition are the main focus of the work I do with my clients. I often make referrals to other providers to rule out other factors (hormones, vitamin levels in blood, thyroid, birth control, medications) that might be contributing to their overall mental health and well-being.

Yet, sometimes as health practitioners, we don’t practice all the advice we give.  When it was time for me to pay attention to some red flags, I kept moving right along for a while before I sought out help. You see for a while, I was noticing more fatigue and night sweats. This had all been going on for a while, but was increasing in frequency and duration.   I figured something was going on with my hormones, but I put it on the back burner.

Then, my dog died in September.  Along with that devastating loss,  my closest cousin died a tragic death in the early part of December. Mix in holiday prep and traveling, and it was just all too much.  I ended up getting a nasty respiratory virus that lasted 2 weeks. Fortunately, for me, I consulted with a friend, Krista Margolis, CNP, who is a functional medicine women’s nurse practitioner.  She did a full assessment of my medical history, activity level, supplements, emotional supports, etc.  and decided to run a series of blood work.

The results of the tests were fairly good all things considered. I take a variety of supplements and follow a fairly healthy diet. However, the blood tests showed my adrenals were fatigued.  I was low in progesterone. My immune system wasn’t at the optimal level.  And I was also slightly low in Vitamin  D, chromium, and copper.

First and foremost,  I boosted my intake of Vitamin D3, chromium, copper, and fish oil.  I also added a supplement for adrenal support.  So far, I haven’t noticed much from the supplemental change other than my immune system seems to be better.  It may take a while for my progesterone level to increase from the adrenal supplement.

Second, I cut back on the high intensity workouts.  I haven’t eliminated the high intensity exercises entirely, but I am spacing them out more.  I’ve been adding additional days of compete rest and gentle yoga/stretching or a nice easy cardio on alternate days. The break in intensity has been easier on my Type A personality than I thought it would be.
Third, I started seeing an acupuncturist weekly. She’s been working on balancing my Qi with cupping and acupuncture, getting me more grounded, and reinstating my practice of  meditation before bedtime.  I’ve noticed I’m more calm, mindful, rested and relaxed after our sessions and sleeping much better.

So now I’m getting more intuened in practicing more of what I preach: to SLOW DOWN, rest, meditate, enjoy walks in nature, decrease screen time, boost up my supplements, commit to less social activities, and seek alternative health practitioners that help me stay grounded in self care and harmony.   Finding a better balance of work/home/self care/social life can be hard.  I feel so very lucky to have the additional healing support.

Here’s wishing you all a healthy and peaceful weekend!

xo

Kara