Adrenal Fatigue - Chronic Stress, Cortisol Deficiency and It's Consequences

Adrenal fatigue is a medical condition in which your adrenal glands become exhausted resulting in a cortisol deficiency.

This is usually brought on by chronic stress, but can also be the result of nutritional problems or disease. Getting control of your anxiety and stress management are absolutely critical to your health and well being!

Often this condition is not recognized or taken seriously by mainstream physicians. Absent a medical crisis, they believe that if there is no disease present that affects the adrenals, then simple fatigue is not really a problem.


What happens in some cases is that an antiaging doctor or other alternative practitioner ends up treating adrenal fatigue, because their approach to balancing the body’s hormonal system is more suited to dealing with this problem.

What Are The Symptoms?

Some symptoms of stressed out adrenals are:

  • Lack of overall energy
  • Feelings of depression
  • Low sex drive
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Chronic fatigue
  • sleep disorders

These symptoms can also be indications of other medical problems or diseases, and so you should always seek professional medical treatment for them. A good antiaging doctor or naturopath can using test determine what the problem really is and prescribe corrective treatment.

Adrenal Fatigue and Cortisol Deficiency

These two things go hand in hand. The adrenals are the glands responsible for secreting cortisol. When they are not functioning properly, your cortisol levels will be low, and will cause feelings of low energy and even depression.

Cortisol is a hormone that is vital to your health. The levels are highest in the morning, so that your body is prepared to start the day and has enough energy to do so. At night cortisol levels drop to allow you to settle in for a night of restful sleep.

Any interruptions in this cycle, which cause a cortisol deficiency, will cause problems with your energy levels, stamina, and emotional and mental stability. Thus adrenal fatigue though not immediately life threatening is a very serious problem that can profoundly affect the quality of your life and your relationships with those close to you.

What Is The Cause?

There are a number of things that can cause your adrenals to be stressed to the point where they don’t function properly. Modern lifestyles, which are full of chronic stress, create challenges for your body, and sometimes the body is not able to keep up!

Some of the things that can lead to exhaustion of your adrenals are:

  • Poor diet and subsequent inadequate nutrition
  • Lack of exercise or too much exercise
  • Lack of restful sleep
  • Serious or prolonged illness or recent surgery
  • Frequent or long term use of stimulants like caffeine or amphetamines
  • Prolonged physical or emotional stress

Remember that the key for good health and long life is the proper balance in all things. This relates to your hormonal system. Too much cortisol is every bit as problematic as too little. Real health occurs when this and other hormones are in the correct balance.

Detection and Treatment

A cortisol deficiency caused by adrenal fatigue can be detected by a saliva based “adrenal function test” which measures cortisol and is usually administered by a naturopathic doctor or a physician who practices medicine in a holistic manner.

You are more likely to be treated by a naturopath than an MD for this condition, because most doctors do not consider it a real problem. The naturopath will seek to not only treat this specific problem, but bring your entire hormonal system into balance if possible.

There are a range of treatment options with which to do this which include:

  • Bioidentical hormones to restore hormonal balance
  • Anxiety and stress management techniques such as biofeedback and meditation
  • The use of vitamin-c, and pantothenic acid
  • Using herbs like licorice and Ashwaganda
  • Adrenal support supplements
  • Eating a diet geared toward your metabolic and blood type
  • Low doses of cortisol (10-15 mg/day) to allow the adrenals to recover

The naturopathic approach takes many months as it is conservative in nature and treats the cortisol deficiency by gradually bring your body’s cortisol levels back to normal, while encouraging you to use relaxation techniques to reduce chronic stress and increase your energy levels

A Controversial Diagnosis

Since mainstream medicine tends to focus on diagnosed conditions, which are readily billable to insurance companies, sluggish adrenals tend to be dismissed by many doctors as “just fatigue,” or even worse hypochondria, rather than a serious cortisol deficiency.

The antiaging doctor can be particularly valuable in this instance because his training and approach will tend to focus more on getting your body back into balance, which is often at the root of many medical problems.

The health of your endocrine system as a whole is vitally important to living a long life as well as a happy and satisfying one. If you have any of the signs or symptoms of adrenal fatigue, then seek the guidance of a doctor with a holistic approach.

Return from Adrenal Fatigue to Hormonal Balance

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