Your adrenal glands are those two small glands sitting atop of your kidneys. The adrenal glands are mainly responsible for helping the body handle the stresses of everyday life, be it physical, psychological, or emotional stress. You may experience adrenal fatigue when they become too overworked and depleted.
When you become overly stressed, the adrenal glands begin having difficulty keeping up with these additional stresses, hence you begin to exhibit the symptoms of having adrenal insufficiency or adrenal fatigue.
Coping with adrenal fatigue or insufficiency can become a vicious cycle. The adrenals are designed to help you deal with stress, but as they become fatigued or depleted, your ability to handle stress declines. It is often a downward spiral.
The truth is: Our bodies are constantly under attack by the world’s overabundance of unhealthy processed food, pollution in our environment, and the pressures and stresses of modern day fast-paced living. These attacks hit hard on our adrenals.
Among the many roles of our adrenal glands is keeping our cortisol rhythm normal. (Cortisol is a hormone related to fat storage and stress). When our cortisol rhythm is off, it causes fatigue, weight gain, feelings of being overwhelmed, etc. which all eventually develop into more severe health issues such as heart disease, stroke, and/or diabetes.
Our adrenal health is incredibly important to the overall health of our bodies.
Below are 10+ common signs and symptoms you may have adrenal fatigue.
(Note: If you have one or two of these symptoms, it doesn’t automatically mean that you have adrenal insufficiency. On the other hand, if you do have most of these symptoms, especially if you know you’ve been under quite a lot of stress lately, then you may want to get yourself checked so you can get proper diagnosis and treatment.)
1. You feel tired all the time.
People suffering from adrenal fatigue experience intense unexplainable physical exhaustion. And this isn’t just the everyday tiredness you feel after coming home from work. Rather, it is an overall feeling of fatigue or extreme exhaustion throughout your days.
Tiredness for no apparent reasons may be due to adrenal fatigue, however it is also important to rule out any other possible conditions such as thyroid illness. Thyroid conditions such as hypothyroidism also causes similar symptoms of fatigue in most people. Likewise, many people with thyroid issues also have adrenal issues.
2. It’s difficult for you to get going in the morning.
Along those same lines of feeling tired all the time, when you have adrenal fatigue, you will often feel too tired to even get up each morning even if you’ve had a full night’s sleep. You many find yourself relying on stimulants such as coffee, sugar or other sources of caffeine and energy, just so you can start your day and get going with your daily activities.
3. You feel overwhelmed.
People experiencing adrenal insufficiency not only feel tired all the time, but also feel overwhelmed with even the smallest tasks they need to accomplish. The feeling is as if they cannot keep up and finish everything. (Note: This may also eventually lead to other symptoms of fatigue such as social withdrawal and depression.)
4. You constantly yearn for a less stressful environment to help you feel better.
People in the depths of adrenal fatigue often feel much better taking a break or even a vacation. Their feelings of fatigue may clear up while on their break, but it tends to return the instant they get back home to their normal lives when the stress returns.
5. You easily gain weight especially around your mid-section.
People with adrenal fatigue also usually gain excess weight quite easily. Most especially, they gain stubborn fat around the middle section of their bodies that won’t seem to go away no matter what they do.
6. You have become more susceptible to getting sick.
If you are suffering from adrenal fatigue, you will notice that you have also began catching a cold or even the flu more often. Also, it seems harder for you to recover from illness after you get it – it takes longer.
7. You have inability to concentrate or are experiencing brain fog.
If you have adrenal fatigue, you may notice that you are having a hard tim remembering things, schedules, appointments, details, etc. You may also feel a general sense of confusion or like you’re not with it. Concentration and focus are also an issue for you. (Note: Thyroid issues also have these symptoms so it’s also important to get a full thyroid check-up.)
8. You have increased PMS (if you are a woman)
Adrenal disorders in women will often produce irregular and/or heavier periods. It may also cause increased PMS symptoms such food cravings, irritability and mood swings.
9. You have big time cravings for salty and/or sweet treats.
Even with men, adrenal fatigue causes cravings for salty snacks or sweets treats. Fast carbs such as chocolate bars, donuts, pastries, cake, ice cream, etc. become a favorite. Likewise, you may find yourself craving snacks such as cheese, meat or potato chips.
10. Other symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
- insomnia or sleep disturbances
- reduced sex drive
- poor digestion
- heart palpitations
- likelihood to experience trembling especially when under pressure
- raw nerves or nervousness and anxiety
- lightheadedness, especially upon getting up or standing
- feeling most energetic in the evenings when you should be sleepy
If you can identify with the majority of these symptoms you may want to research more about adrenal fatigue. A great resource is The Adrenal Reset Diet: Strategically Cycle Carbs and Proteins to Lose Weight, Balance Hormones, and Move from Stressed to Thriving.
You may also want to investigate what is triggering the stress in your life so you can make appropriate changes.
Finally, it is always advisable to see a doctor and get a a full medical check up so you can get properly diagnosed and treated.