What is Adrenal Fatigue?
As we all know our chemistry and how we operate biologically is very complex, so, let’s take a simplistic view of adrenal fatigue and the group of associated syndromes, such as, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome CFS, Fibromyaligia, adrenal neurasthenia and adrenal apathy.
What is the adrenal gland? We each have two adrenal glands, which are endocrine glands that sit on-top of each kidney. They play an important role in our lives through their ability to secrete a range of hormones and steroids that regulate how we feel, our emotions and other considerations like sex drive and the fight or flight response. The more well known chemicals that are secreted include; adrenalin, cortisol, androgens and estrogens.
In the context of this web site (exploring and treating anxiety and depression) adrenal fatigue occurs when, the adrenal gland has been over active for too long (7 months or more) having to pump stress hormones into your body in response to anxious feelings, illness or anxiety trigger events that may emotionally freak you out.
If you think about it, to have a panic attack the body has to flood you with a whole bunch of chemicals that kick off a string of scary (and uncontrollable) fearful bodily reactions that we might call the bodily symptoms of anxiety. When you have been living in an anxious manner for a prolonged period of time the adrenal gland (and your emotional energy) become tired out (burned out) and this limits the chemicals secreted and how you respond to them.
Therefore, metaphorically speaking, adrenal fatigue syndrome is your body slowly closing down to a minimum level that will allow you to function without further exhausting itself. Or to put it another way, your unconscious nervous system is hijacking you (via aches, pains, illness and exhaustion) to tell you that how you are thinking, responding to life and managing stress are just not working!
Adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome and conditions such as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) all seem to be variations of the same issues and the medical world find it hard to explain exactly what these syndromes are and how to fix them. Having said that, any therapist that has worked extensively in the field of anxiety and depression will tell you that these conditions are very common and usually quite specific to people who think a lot, worry a lot, get themselves stressed and have an external locus of control. Therapists also know that these conditions are reversible when the person begins to take more control of their life, silence their minds and lean into their fears rather than avoid them.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue
As an anxious person becomes more and more run down the body begins to respond in a whole range of ways to slow you down. These symptoms of adrenal exhaustion include;
- Feeling emotionally exhausted – Apathy
- Feeling physically tired
- Poor concentration and foggy thinking
- Lowered immune system functionality
- Muscular aches and pains
- Joint pain
- Low sex drive
- Mood swings and mild depression
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Needing to rest during the day
- Cravings for sugar and sweet foods
- Feeling anxious
- Easily becoming angry at others
- Feeling out of control and stuck
Of course, each person reacts differently, however, these are the headline CFS symptoms we see on a daily basis.
Treatment for adrenal fatigue, CFS and emotional exhaustion
One important consideration when overcoming adrenal fatigue is to acknowledge that it took quite a few months (or years) for the condition to take hold and wear you out – therefore, it will take a fair time (4-6 months) for your body to recover – assuming you remove all of the obstacles to recovery!
We need to acknowledge that how you were responding to life got you into this emotionally fatigued state, and to recover you will need to adapt your coping strategies in new ways that will prevent this from happening again and allow the current stress in your life to abate, thus facilitating your recovery. Remember, in most instances, adrenal fatigue is a natural response to continued stress and worry, it is not a disease, therefore the remedy is not medicine – it is behavioural change to life’s presenting challenges.
The Calmness In Mind Program gently teaches you how to recognise what has happened within your biology and guides to through taking the appropriate steps towards recovery. By learning how to increase your self-confidence and self-worth it is possible to face up to events, relationships, parents, children, tragedies and all of life’s challenges in new calmer ways and take action to remove that which can be removed and to alter your attitudes to be able to accept that which can’t be controlled.
By recognising and changing the ways you think and behave you’ll take back control of your emotions – once your emotions are calmer it is possible to recognise any self-limiting beliefs you have that no longer serve you well, as we change them, it allows you to stand up and face the things you know you need to change in your life. As a more calmer mind and body emerge, the adrenal fatigue slowly abates and doesn’t return because you are now thinking and behaving in new more confident ways.
You can hope to recover from adrenal fatigue or you can do something about it! It’s up to you really.