Feeling tired all the time? Could it be Adrenal Fatigue?
We are in the middle of a fatigue epidemic and it is deadly. Not in the way that killer viruses or bacteria can wipe people out – infections are a much more ‘obvious’ scenario. One day you are well, then you get sick quickly, with easy-to-recognise symptoms. You have a test that confirms your diagnosis. And then your world stops for a while as you concentrate on resting and recovering. There is no mystery. No confusion.
Fatigue on the other hand, is much sneakier. It is much less obvious or clear cut. It creeps up on you over time. There is no ‘bug’ to treat and get rid of. Sometimes you can pinpoint what triggered your fatigue in the first place, but more often it’s just a slow build up of all sorts of different bits and pieces.
There is no clear diagnostic test and the symptoms can vary so widely, it’s hard to know which is which:
💮Is that low mood simply depression and that’s why you’re so tired? And those antidepressants have helped a bit, but you’re still not right….
💮Is it the menopause and that’s why you can’t shift the exhaustion? And maybe you should think about starting HRT and then it will all be so much better….
💮Is that stubborn weight gaining your thyroid? And, even though you’re taking the meds and the tests are fine, you still feel utterly drained?
💮Is it your age? And you should just give up expecting to have more energy?
You can literally go round and round in circles, trying to figure out what is really going on. What is making you feel so drained, so that you can figure out what to do about it. All you know is that no matter how much you sleep, rest or pace yourself, that fatigue just won’t budge.
So are you ready to look at this from a completely different perspective?
Are you done with trying to fix this awful tiredness that you feel once and for all?
A New Perspective on Feeling Tired All The Time
If you have been feeling tired all the time (TATT) for a while, then this might sound familiar. You have been to see your family doctor, you’ve had a good conversation about just how exhausted you feel. Turns out the routine blood tests are ‘all normal, and you might be offered some options like antidepressants, HRT, counselling or some ‘time off’.
And you might even go down that route for a while, and it might help a bit. But underneath, that tired feeling is still there. You are simply exhausted and if anything, it’s getting worse, not better.
So let me introduce you to a new way of looking at your tiredness: let’s talk about adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue is what happens when the body starts to struggle with the amount of chronic stress it has to cope with.
When the body is put under stress, it first goes into the ‘acute stress response’, and then switches gear to go into the slower more sustained chronic stress response.
The chronic stress response involves raised levels of a hormone called cortisol. This raised cortisol response helps your body to cope with stress for a really long time: weeks, even months if needed (see my blog on stress basics).
The things that create the chronic stress in the first place might be very obvious, e.g. a woman who works long hours in a high pressure job and never takes a break. Or it might be something internal and not at all obvious such as an undiagnosed chronic infection eg SIBO, EBV or Lyme.
The adrenal glands will pump out extra cortisol for a long time, as your body tries to adapt and cope with the stress it is under. But we are not made of elastic, and we all have our limit – our breaking point if you like. This is officially called hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysfunction.
Lets just call it adrenal fatigue for ease of language!
How Do You Know if You Have Got Adrenal Fatigue?
Fatigue is one of the symptoms of a high cortisol state but in truth it is a part of a whole raft of symptoms that show up, when your body is struggling with maintaining its chronic stress response.
The best way to diagnose adrenal fatigue is by looking at your history and your signs and symptoms in careful detail. It is all about building a clear and powerful picture of what has happened to your, your health and your life.
The functional medicine approach uses tools like a detailed time-line and the functional medicine matrix to build up your personal picture to achieve this.This is by far the best way to establish if the tirednes you are experiencing is part of an adrenal fatigue picture or not.
Three Typical Adrenal Fatigue Scenarios
💮 You feel tired even after a good night’s sleep. You regularly use caffeine and you have to make a conscious effort not to ‘drink too much’. You find yourself short fused, snappy and irritable.
Mornings are not your best time, though as the day goes on you seem to ‘wake up fully’ and you find yourself wondering if it was all in your imagination after all. You try exercising more, because deep down you think it’s probably because you are just unfit.
This is all classic mild adrenal fatigue. These are the early warning bells that your body is starting to struggle.
💮 You will more than likely have all of the above symptoms, but you are also noticing that your waistline is expanding. You might try dieting, or doing extra reps in your HIIT workout, but nothing seems to shift them. And you’re just not feeling it: life is losing its colour and you wonder why you feel unhappy and just not yourself.
You notice that little things are really getting to you, you’re not as resilient, and you’re losing that drive that was once your best feature. You’re ever feeling quite on edge, as if you’ve got anxiety. Sometimes you might even feel quite panicky, out of the blue and small things can feel like a huge deal.
You have to work hard to resist those food cravings in the evenings. You go to bed exhausted but then, as soon as your head hits the pillow, you’re totally wide awake. You’re tired but wired. Guess what- you’ve got the classic symptoms of moderate adrenal fatigue.
💮 You are just tired all the time. No matter how much you sleep, rest or pace yourself, you just never seem to have any energy. Your motivation has simply vanished, you struggle to feel real joy and you have a strange ‘ disconnected’ feeling – as if you are just going through the motions of life. In truth you feel really quite depressed.
You’ve never been this heavy: none of your clothes fit any more, and combined with feeling exhausted, wiped and fed up, you know you are giving up on how you look. At first it’s just the small things, like no makeup, but lately you just feel so depressed, you often wear the same clothes over and over.
Things in your life are starting to show signs of falling apart, as all the ways you haven’t been able to keep on top of things are starting to show: the house, bills, admin, and feeling organized. You have no motivation to tackle anything, and even the smallest tasks feel impossible and like a mountain to climb.
You hurt every time you try to exercise, even a walk can feel exhausting. You have no energy to do anything and yet the less you do, the worse you feel. Everything in your life has to be planned around ‘when you might have some energy’ and your social life is vanishing in front of your eyes.
You suffer with terrible brain fog- waking up as if you’re hungover, you can hardly focus, your attention to detail has gone, and you have to write everything down or else you’ll forget. Trying to focus on anything for longer than 5 or 10 minutes is simply impossible.
Things are now massively impacting others as well. Your kids have stopped asking you for anything-they know ‘mummy is just too tired’. Your partner is patiently waiting for things to improve, even though there is no sign of this happening anytime soon, and secretly you hope and pray that he/she is not about to leave you, because these days – even you feel like you have nothing to say, nothing to offer and you know you’re not up to much.
You just hope and pray you can continue to cope at work and keep your job.
Welcome to a typical day in the life for someone suffering from severe adrenal fatigue.
Knowledge is Power
So now you know that if you recognise yourself in any part of the adrenal fatigue scenarios I described above, then help is at hand. And that it’s not simply a case of resting more, pulling yourself together or gritting your teeth and pushing through. Even if the ‘standard blood tests’ are all normal, there are real reasons for why you are feeling the way you do, physically mentally and emotionally.
At this moment, you can do one of 2 things:
💮 Go watch the FREE workshop on how to recover your energy (link)
💮 If you now feel that you have adrenal fatigue and are ready to kick it into touch, then book a call with me right here (www.drmargriet.com/apply) and let’s see if I call help you.