Stress and Your Adrenals
Adrenal fatigue is a condition which is becoming increasingly prevalent, but at the same time is under-diagnosed. Relatively few people are aware that this condition is responsible for many of the fatigue-related symptoms they deal with on a daily basis. Prolonged or chronic stress is the major cause of adrenal fatigue.
An individual suffering from adrenal fatigue may find that even after sleeping for several hours the symptoms of fatigue can still be felt. It can seem that no amount of sleep or relaxation can overcome the kind of fatigue that a person who has adrenal fatigue experiences. One tell-tale sign of having adrenal fatigue can be a reliance on coffee and other stimulants to be able to get through the day and accomplish regular daily tasks.
Unfortunately, the consequence of adrenal fatigue does not just stop at feeling constantly fatigued and worn-out. The effects of chronic and prolonged stress can be very damaging to the body. In learning how to restore proper adrenal function you may be able to greatly increase your enjoyment of living.
Prolonged Stress Exhausts Your Adrenals
The adrenal glands play a critical role in human health, well-being and survival. Ideally, in times of stress the adrenals release hormones in amounts proportional to the perceived threat or need. These hormones trigger further hormone releases that temporarily enable super-powers in the person, enabling them to think and act faster and stronger than normally.
For health to be maintained it is necessary for these hormones to be dissipated by physical activity, followed by a critical rest period to enable the system, especially the adrenal glands, to fully recover. Unfortunately, in our modern lives this set of circumstances rarely occurs in our daily lives.
More often, the triggers that set off the ‘fight or flight’ response are emotion-based responses which lack a corresponding physical release. Worse still, there is usually no respite period before the next episode. Simply put, this is chronic stress.
Chronic stress causes prolonged production of adrenaline and cortisol which leads to exhaustion of the adrenals and depletion of these hormones. The adrenal glands cannot keep on producing stress hormones indefinitely. Eventually their output diminishes and constant fatigue sets in.
Stress Damage is System-wide
Each organ and every system in the body will suffer from the profound effects of malfunctioning adrenal glands. Once your adrenal glands are compromised, your body’s ability to metabolize fats, carbohydrate and protein will also be compromised. This occurrence also causes the depletion of specific nutrients that are much needed by the body for its optimal functioning.
Your body’s electrolyte balances, cardiovascular system, your heart and sex drive are also largely affected. These changes occur in degrees over time and may not be noticed in isolation. Eventually the adrenal depletion reaches a stage where it is impossible to remain unaware of a problem, usually a feeling of constant fatigue and being run-down. It is also usually noticed at this time that the person is more susceptible to infection and injury than they ever remembered previously being.
Exposing yourself to prolonged or chronic stress forces the body to continually produce stress hormones thereby constantly keeping it in panic mode. This becomes the accepted ‘norm’ and may go largely unnoticed. When the body is always in survival mode it is unable to effectively perform other important functions such as digesting food, fighting infections, regulating hormones, improving blood flow, etc.
In this state, the heart is constantly pumping harder and beating faster. The arteries will also be constricting most of the time while the body’s metabolism is using lean muscle as fuel for energy each time the body is subjected to stress.
Need for Repair
If you are suffering from adrenal fatigue it is first necessary to reduce or eliminate the stress causing it, or learn to deal with it more effectively to reduce the response to stressors. Then changes need to made to both diet and lifestyle, particularly rest patterns, to enable the adrenals to repair themselves. Unfortunately, as the damage did not occur overnight, neither will be the recovery, which can take up to two years.