43% of all adults suffer adverse effects due to stress! 75% to 90% of all visits to primary care physicians are in some way related to the adverse impact of stress. This means that at some point all of us have succumbed to the effects of stress in our lives in one way or another. Stress can have a way of creeping into our lives and slowly suffocating us. From symptoms such as chronic tension headaches to digestive upset and everything in between, we learn to live with the subtle effects of stress and they slowly become our “new normal”.
It is not “JUST” stress!
The following is a list of common physical symptoms that can arise from chronic and acute stress:
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Increased abdominal fat
- Tired for no reason throughout the day but especially around 3:00 PM
- Trouble getting up in the morning even when you go to bed at a reasonable hour
- Feeling rundown or overwhelmed
- Memory issues
- Difficulty concentrating or brain fog
- Lowered immune system
- Increased startle response
- Food cravings (salt and/or sugar)
- Blood sugar imbalances-hypoglycemia
The adrenal glands are grape sized glands that sit on top of the kidneys. They are responsible for secreting hormones which the body needs for ongoing stress. Over time, the adrenals can become exhausted due to chronic stress.
The Three Stages of Adrenal Fatigue Include
1. ALARM STAGE: In the alarm stage, bursts of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline are released in response to a stressor, resulting in the traditional “fight or flight” responses.
2. RESISTANCE STAGE: In the resistance stage, the body uses high cortisol levels to free up stored energy to help the body physically resist the stressor. It is now known that a prolonged resistance stage may increase the risk of developing stress-related diseases. If cortisol levels remain elevated, symptoms may include feeling tired but wired, having difficulty sleeping, weight gain around the waist, high blood pressure, hair loss, muscle mass loss and anxiety. Excess cortisol also interferes with the action of other hormones like progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid hormones which further creates more imbalances and increases symptoms.
3. EXHAUSTION STAGE: At this stage, the adrenals are either depleted from producing too much cortisol or are reacting to the detrimental effects of high cortisol. This reduces the cortisol production significantly. Symptoms of low cortisol include fatigue (especially morning fatigue), increased susceptibility to infections, decreased recovery from exercise, allergies, low blood sugar, a burned out feeling, depression and low sex drive.
The following questionnaire will help to determine your level of adrenal fatigue.
View the Adrenal Health Questionnaire »
Action Steps for Optimal Adrenal Health
- Get tested - Salivary Adrenal testing will help to determine your level of adrenal fatigue.
- Find an outlet for your stress — exercise, dance, art, music etc.
- Recognize your stress — learn to identify your stress before it consumes you.
- List all your stress and eliminate the stress that you can change.
- Balance your blood sugar by eating every 3-4 hours.
- Eliminate the top dietary stressors-gluten, sugar, alcohol, caffeine and dairy.
- Get adequate rest, sleep and gentle exercise -walking, stretching, swimming etc.
- Take adrenal restoring herbs like Licorice root, Ashwagandha, Relora, Rhodiola, Siberian ginseng and Schisandra - Adrenomend, Exhilarin
- Take supportive nutrients such as Stress Vitamin B-complex, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Fish Oils, and Vitamin D3.
- Take adrenal cell extracts to boost adrenal function - Cortrex, Adrenplus 300.