If you’re like many people, you lead a high-stress life. Between family obligations and long hours at work, it can seem like you never catch a break. You’re tired. And even if you try your best to take care of yourself, you may find that you simply can’t get back to the way that you felt before life became so overwhelming.
The medical community is increasingly recognizing that long periods of stress can have a profound impact on the body in the form of adrenal fatigue. While adrenal fatigue isn’t a formal diagnosis, its symptoms and the impact it has on your life can be profoundly disruptive. But there is help available that goes beyond the lifestyle changes you may have already tried and with the right treatment, you may be able to restore tranquility to your body and mind.
The Connection Between Stress and the Adrenal Glands
When we experience acute or chronic stress, our bodies try to compensate in any way it can because, to our bodies, stress indicates that our survival is in danger. More specifically, stress acts as a signal that tells our bodies to perform more effectively in the short term to secure our survival. As a result, our bodies make trade-offs to help us survive in the face of immediate threats. Elevating cortisol levels is one of these trade-offs.
In the presence of stress, our adrenal glands secrete cortisol, a hormone that can inhibit the production of insulin, increase our level of wakefulness, and inhibit the immune system. These effects ensure that the body is ready to fight or to take flight rather than to rest or digest. In the short-term, this can be a useful way of allocating physical resources. In the long term, however, excess cortisol can be harmful.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue
If you have experienced chronic stress, you may also have experienced chronically high levels of cortisol, resulting in a host of uncomfortable symptoms. But even if your stressors are removed, you might not feel better. This could be because when the adrenal glands are taxed beyond their limit for months or years, they may eventually become fatigued and fail to make enough cortisol to serve your needs. As a result, your body can’t regulate blood sugar, sleep, or the immune system as effectively as before.
Adrenal fatigue is characterized by:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Craving salty or sweet food
- Feeling cold
- Brain fog
It’s important to recognize that chronic stress can result from not only emotional stress, but physical stress such as poor nutrition, unaddressed injuries, infectious illnesses, and exposure to toxins or pollutants. Indeed, anyone can develop adrenal fatigue if their body has been under pressure for a long enough period of time.
Regardless of the cause, your adrenal glands may not necessarily recover on their own once they have become fatigued. Fortunately, there is treatment available to help you address your symptoms and begin the recovery process.
Healing From Adrenal Fatigue
If you suspect that you have developed adrenal fatigue or are at high risk of developing adrenal fatigue, you aren’t powerless. While your adrenal fatigue will take time to treat, you can take steps toward healing by seeking out advanced treatment options as soon as possible.
The first step is to reach out to a physician who can thoroughly assess your symptoms and determine if you are experiencing adrenal fatigue. This assessment will likely include a saliva test, as saliva contains trace amounts of cortisol, but your doctor may also draw blood or check the levels of cortisol in your urine. If adrenal fatigue is identified as the cause of your symptoms, you’ll work with the doctor to develop an appropriate treatment strategy. While lifestyle changes will be an essential part of healing, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) may help you achieve the best results.
When your exhausted adrenal glands are no longer able to produce enough cortisol, BHRT can supply your body with an appropriate cortisol level. Because bioidentical hormones are chemically indistinguishable from the hormones your body naturally produces and because treatment is tailored to your specific needs, BHRT is typically both effective and well-tolerated, helping you optimize your recovery.
Adrenal fatigue doesn’t happen overnight—it took sustained stress to trigger fatigue and your body will need time to heal. But by combining a healthy lifestyle with BHRT, you’ll be on the right track to feeling your best once again.
BodyLogicMD can help you recover from adrenal fatigue with expert care from a highly-trained practitioner who specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and integrative medicine. The practitioners within the BodyLogicMD network are among the top medical professionals in the country and specially certified to help you address your symptoms using the most advanced treatments available. Get started on a customized treatment plan designed to fit your lifestyle and help you reach optimal wellness — contact a local practitioner to schedule your first appointment or take the BodyLogicMD Hormone Balance Quiz today.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases.
Charlotte is a patient care coordinator specializing in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. She is committed to helping patients who struggle with the symptoms of hormonal change and imbalance explore their treatment options and develop effective strategies to optimize wellness.