Do You Have Adrenal Fatigue? | Christiane Northrup, M.D.
Do You Have Adrenal Fatigue?
Christiane Northrup, M.D. | December, 2017
Common Symptoms of Adrenal Exhaustion
In my blog Spiritual Support for Your Adrenals, I explain the physical and emotional triggers that can lead to adrenal fatigue. But how do you know you have adrenal fatigue?
Some of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue, or adrenal exhaustion, include:
Now, if you have low thyroid function or low-level depression, you may have similar health complaints as someone with adrenal exhaustion. It’s always a good idea to check your thyroid function if you are fatigued. And, before starting any antidepressants, make sure that both your thyroid and your adrenals are functioning properly.
For someone with true adrenal fatigue a typical day might look like this:
You awaken feeling groggy and have difficulty dragging yourself out of bed. You can’t get going without that first cup or two of coffee. You rely on sugary snacks and caffeine to get through the day, particularly in the late morning or afternoon. At night, though exhausted, you have difficulty falling asleep as the worries of the day keep replaying in your mind. You sometimes wonder what happened to your interest in sex.
If this describes you, you may have suboptimal adrenal function. This scenario indications that the balance between cortisol and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is off – specifically, that cortisol levels are too high in relation to DHEA.
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Remember, cortisol is your fight or flight hormone. In the right amounts, it can enhance your body’s natural resistance and endurance. But too much cortisol can contribute to insulin resistance and a whole host of issues. DHEA helps to balance the negative effects of too much cortisol.
DHEA has many benefits too, including improving your energy, vitality, sleep, and mental clarity. It can also reduce PMS symptoms, help the body recover from acute stress or trauma; and may help the body maintain its bones and muscle mass. However, the more stress your body experiences, the less likely it is to produce enough DHEA. To compound matters, DHEA levels drop as part of the aging process (in some women). This explains why adrenal exhaustion at midlife can be particularly trying.