Unfortunately, some types of stress are hard to spot. In his book, Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, Dr. James Wilson mentions a study which measured the stress hormones of a group of nurses working in a pediatric unit. They weren’t aware of any particular stress in their lives, but their lab tests told a different story. According to Dr. Wilson, they “were totally unaware of being under stress, but their cortisol levels were elevated by 200-300%.”
If the intensity and frequency of the stresses in your life — either those internally driven (such as your perceptions about your life) or those externally driven (such as having surgery or working the night shift) — become too great, then over time your adrenal glands will begin to become exhausted. This will mean that you are much more likely to suffer from fatigue and menopausal symptoms. And a woman in a state of adrenal fatigue is likely to find herself at a distinct disadvantage when entering perimenopause, because perimenopause itself is an additional form of stress.
I started writing these books having worked in hospitals across a wide range of different specialities. Through my experience I found the most common method to treating a wide range of chronic illness is to prescribe a pill. Very early on in my training I became disillusioned with the grip that the pharmaceutical industry had in dictating that pills should be, the, intervention. The very nature of their intent being primarily focused on profit and subsequently, less so, to actually help heal people from disease, led me to search for alternatives.
Because I have a job that’s indoors, I need to make it a point to get outside more often. I believe there is something coded in our DNA that gives each of us an affinity with the sun and fresh air, so that we seek out these health-boosting influences. I also like to practice earthing, or walking barefoot outside, as much as I can to help de-stress. Something about that skin-on-earth connection feels literally grounding and refreshing.
Prior to having my left Adrenal Gland surgically removed last month after the recommendation of an endocrinologists, I struggled from moderate adrenal fatigue, high blood pressure, low potassium, etc. The removal of the gland was to eliminate the need for blood pressure medicines all together. It didn’t seem to work. I have sever adrenal fatigue, sever high blood pressure, continued weight gain of my mid section, and now depression. Any advice?
Did you ever complete additional follow-up articles in addition to this one? I’ve been dealing with similar issues and performed the iris contraction test and experienced non-stop wavering. I reached out to my endocrinologist and she informed me that adrenal fatigue is not a medical diagnose and does not exist int he medical world. I’ve had thyroid tests done and all came back normal, yet I still have symptoms. Thanks!
I also promote quality sleep by turning off the TV, computer, and smartphone a few hours before bed (they can overstimulate the brain, block melatonin production, and hurt your quality of sleep). And I often eat an ounce or two of clean protein like organic turkey and 2 tablespoons of coconut oil before bed to balance out my blood sugar throughout the night.
When the body is stressed – from infection, disease, or illness and/or emotional stress – the adrenal glands will respond by amplifying cortisol production. Cortisol helps the body deal with stress and curbs inflammation. But once the body is in a steady state of stress, these glands grow to be tired out from this constant need for added cortisol and stops creating quantities that are sufficient.
Mama, it is AS IF we are living parallel lives! 🙂 Minus the third precious child, farm, and homeschooling, this is me, SPOT ON. I am JUST FINISHING this book as well, after getting confirmation from the saliva test that my adrenals are “maladapted” (the calm before full-blown adrenal fatigue) and I’m trying like H-E double hockey sticks to modify my lifestyle (the # culprit – ongoing, compounded stress for YEARS, plus broken sleep for 18 months – nursing babes, and all!) to rebuild those reserves. I’m really looking forward to your series! Thank you for sharing your story! Lots of love! xo
The skin darkening that concerns endocrinologists most often occurs in Addison’s disease, but not secondary adrenal insufficiency. The latter of these conditions is often not diagnosed quickly because people ignore symptoms until they are drastically obvious. People with adrenal insufficiency do experience severe fatigue, often not reflected by salivary cortisol levels. (40)
Think about it like this: if your body is a car, and it’s run down and needs to get checked – you are most likely going to carefully drive it to the closest garage. What you are not going to do is race there as fast as you can, because you want to take it easy on your car and not cause it to fall apart before it even reaches the garage. That’s what your body is doing in this case, it is lowering your cortisol level because it does not want your body to be “running on empty.”
Fortunately, there’s an art and science to sleeping, and it’s actually quite easy to hack. A lot of people think sleep is about getting eight hours a night, but sleep quality is far more important than sleep quantity, especially when it comes to balancing your cortisol. In fact, people who sleep less than 8 hours a night tend to live longer. I’ve been sleeping for five hours a night for the past several years, and my performance has only gone up.