Have you ever had one of those days where you come home, throw your purse on the table, drop down onto the couch, and suddenly you feel like nothing short of a full-blown emergency could get you to move? Your eyes are tired, your body feels like a ton of bricks, and you can’t even think of what you want for dinner, never mind muster up the energy to cook it. You want to just flip on the TV, order takeout, and call it a night, but you know there’s still so much left to do before you can go to bed – kids, husband, homework, chores. Whatever it is, it can’t wait ‘til tomorrow, and you are feeling totally burned out. Sound familiar?
That unpleasant — and all too common — running-on-empty feeling could be a direct result of overtaxed adrenal glands. They are the tiny, pyramid-shaped structures located on top of each kidney. While it might be hard to believe that such overwhelming exhaustion could be caused something so small, the impact these glands have on your body is anything but little!
Your adrenal glands produce all of your essential hormones: estrogen, testosterone, adrenaline, and cortisol. When you’re under stress — and who isn’t sometimes? — these glands leap into action, activating your fight-or-flight response. But too much stress can put the adrenal glands in a state of constant work, and over time they can get tired. When that happens, nearly every system in the body suffers. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include: ·
- Hazy thinking: Inability to think clearly, communicate effectively, make simple decisions, retain data, remember basic information.
- Tiredness: Difficulty focusing, keeping your eyes open, maintaining basic hand-eye coordination.
- Depression: Unprovoked feelings of sadness, lethargy, fatigue, listlessness, apathy
- Insomnia: Inability to sleep, even when tired.
- Weight gain: Weight gain not caused by a sudden shift in eating habits or lifestyle.
- Weakened immune system: Your immune system is having a difficult time staving off illnesses, or when you do get sick, it takes longer than usual to recover.
- Low sex drive: Connecting with your partner sexually doesn’t appeal to you, or you’re too tired to engage.
So what can you do? Start by making an effort to minimize the stressful demands placed upon your body — both physical and emotional. While regular exercise and a healthy diet that limits sugar and caffeine are important, the daily grind is what really taxes our adrenal function. Too much work, too little rest, and unresolved emotional issues are as bad as overindulging in food or alcohol. Keep in mind that your adrenal glands are the gateway to a healthy body and mind, and adjust the pace of your life accordingly.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on your thyroid, too. This is because the symptoms of thyroid disorder can be very similar to adrenal fatigue. Lack of energy, changes in appetite, depression, fatigue and mood changes can all be the result of a thyroid disorder, hypothyroidism (in which the thyroid under-produces levels of the thyroid hormone). People who have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism should pay particular attention to their adrenal function, because they might actually be suffering from adrenal insufficiency along with hypothyroidism.
Thyroid medication might mask some of the symptoms of adrenal insufficiency, but it can’t treat the root of the problem. Some patients continue to suffer from side effects such as fatigue, weight gain, and depression. A combination of thyroid medication and adrenal hormones might be the perfect combination to treat these symptoms. Of course, you should talk to your doctor to find out more, and make sure you are committed to a healthy lifestyle, such as daily exercise, a healthy diet, and plenty of rest. Simple tweaks such as these might be all you need to get you back on track and feeling like yourself again!