Adrenal Fatigue — What Can Happen If You Have Too Much Stress

2 min


Most of us know about how damaging stress can be to the body (and knowing this fact doesn’t make it easier to deal with!). However, one thing in particular to look out for is adrenal fatigue.

How does adrenal fatigue happen?

Basically, constant stress and poor nutrition can weaken the adrenal glands.

The adrenal glands are two tiny pieces of tissue that are right above each kidney. At appropriate times, they will produce and release certain regulatory hormones and chemical messengers.

Adrenal glands producing hormones

The Two Primary Adrenal Hormones

Both adrenaline and cortisol are two of the most important hormones secreted by the adrenal gland. Cortisol is secreted from the exterior portion of the gland, called the adrenal cortex, while adrenaline is manufactured in the interior of the adrenal gland. Cortisol in particular helps you handle longer-term stress situations. These are just two of many of the adrenal cortex hormones.

Adrenaline and cortisol also play a big part in maintaining body fluid balance, your blood pressure, and other central metabolic functions.

How Constant Stress Causes Adrenal Burnout

When you are consistently stressed, the body will overproduce adrenaline and cortisol, along with other stress hormones. Eventually the adrenal glands will essentially become depleted. This can then lead to issues with our thyroid gland, which can cause a further decline in our moods as well as our energy levels.

Over time, the adrenal glands can actually shrink or enlarge. Additionally, the overproduction of hormones caused by long-term stress can weaken the immune system as well as inhibit production of white blood cells, which protect the body against foreign invaders.

Here are some common causes of adrenal stress:

  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Overworking consistently
  • Going to sleep late
  • Chronic illness
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Over-exercising consistently
  • Consistent anger problems
  • Surgery
  • Poor digestion

Some Symptoms of Adrenal Stress That You Might Experience:

  • Indigestion
  • Difficulty building muscle
  • Poor memory
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Heart palpitations
  • Insomnia
  • Light-headedness upon standing up, general weakness
  • Dry/thin skin
  • Headaches
  • Alcohol intolerance
  • Alternating diarrhea and constipation (or irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Trouble concentrating

Relaxation Techniques

Some Recommended Lifestyle Changes for Adrenal Stress

  • Eat regular meals all day long, and don’t skip them! Try to keep your blood sugar stable. When your blood sugar drops, this can stress your adrenal glands.
  • Focus on eating healthy. Get enough protein and avoid sugar as well as processed foods.
  • Limit caffeine intake as much as possible. Coffee and sodas can overstimulate your adrenal glands.
  • Exercise to relax, even if it’s just stretching.
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco.
  • Make it a priority to reduce stress in your life by using breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques.

Getting Checked

You can check the health of your adrenal glands by having a urine test, blood test, or saliva test performed by your doctor.

Also check with your doctor about which supplements might be helpful for you in ensuring that your adrenal glands stay healthy.

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