Stress, Cortisol and Adrenal Fatigue

Cortisol plays a crucial role in maintaining health. However, in order to do so, circulating levels must be maintained within a reasonably narrow range. If levels drop even slightly below optimal, signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue can occur.

Adrenal Fatigue:

In adrenal fatigue cortisol levels are no longer able to rise adequately to meet demand, and people begin to notice signs and symptoms that provide a clue the body is running at a suboptimal level. In short, adrenal fatigue is the persistent suboptimal functioning of the adrenal glands, especially under stress. There are many signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue, however, there is no single pathognomonic indicator, except possibly its unique pattern of fatigue. Although fatigue is a common complaint heard by primary health care practitioners (up to 85 % of patients complain of fatigue as one of their major symptoms) - there appears to be no other fatigue pattern similiar to adrenal fatigue.

Unique Pattern of Adrenal Fatigue:

1. Early morning fatigue, even with sufficient sleep - requires caffeine or other stimulants to engage in daily tasks (may not feel awake until after mid-day meal).

2. Mid-morning low: Often compensated for by additional caffeine plus refined sugars.

3. Afternoon low (between 2 and 5 p.m.): lasts from 15 minutes to 2 hours and ranges from wanting to take it easy for a few moments to having to lie down.

4. Substantially improved energy after 6 p.m. - usually the individual with adrenal fatigue feel better at this point compared to any point in the day.

5. 'Second wind' of renewed energy around 11 p.m. (if still awake) - lasts until 1-2 a.m.

6. Much more refreshed in the morning if able to sleep in for approximately 2 hours beyond usual rising time.

Common signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue:

* Requires caffeine or other stimulants to start the day and continue the day.
* Decreased stamina and energy - Feels run down and exhausted most of the day.
* Decreased productivity
* Decreased resilience: Takes additional time to recover from illness and stress.
* Fails to feel refreshed or rested despite 8 hours sleep.
* Decreased libido
* Increased irritability or intolerance
* Mild depression

Causes of Adrenal Fatigue:

There are a number of factors leading to adrenal fatigue, yet, the most common factor relates to any form of stress that is chronic, prolonged or severe in nature. In modern life, there is often multiple stressors occurring in tandem. Many cases of adrenal fatigue are triggered by motor vehicle accidents, severe injuries, deep emotional trauma (e.g. divorce), extended periods of work without sufficient time for relaxation, poor and irregular eating habits, and chronic lack of sleep. Moreover certain population groups tend to suffer from adrenal fatigue more frequently due to constant stress, for example, caregivers, social workers, police officers, primary health care practitioners, shift workers, single mothers, individuals working multiple jobs, and the self-employed.

If you have any questions regarding this post, please make contact:

A: Mark Hinchey, 601 Glebe Road, Adamstown, New South Wales, Australia, 2289

M: 0432234822 (for all appointments)

L: 0240235959


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