In 1998, Dr. James L. Wilson, DC, ND, PhD, coined the term “adrenal fatigue” to mean lower-than-normal adrenal function that is caused by stress. The term was created to differentiate this condition from adrenal insufficiency or Addison’s disease.
The theory behind stress-induced adrenal fatigue is that during prolonged periods of high stress, the body releases stress hormones such as cortisol to deal with the situation (the “fight or flight” response). With the adrenal glands under continual stimulation, they become exhausted and eventually lose their ability to deal properly with stress. They either get stuck in the “on” position once the stress has passed, or do not work sufficiently when needed.
Among the signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue are the following:
- Reduced immune system with frequent symptoms that last longer than usual.
- Firm, muscular looking body fat from excess weight that is hard to lose.
- Lightheadedness when rising from a horizontal position.
- Poor memory.
- Reduced sex drive.
- Lack of energy in the mornings and in the afternoon between 3–5 PM.
- Reduced ability to handle stress.
- Increased effort required to perform simple tasks.
- Lethargy and lack of energy.
- Dry and thin skin.
- Low body temperature.
- Dyspepsia (acidity)
- Alternating constipation and diarrhea.
- Need for caffeine or stimulants to start the day.
- Feeling of tiredness from 9–10 PM, followed by difficulty actually falling asleep.
- Cravings for fatty, salty, and high-protein food such as meat and cheese.
- Pain in the upper back or neck with no apparent cause.
- Improved health with reduction in stress or briefly after eating a meal.
- Mild depression.
- Food and/or inhalant allergies.
- Unexplained hair loss.
Though none of these individual symptoms on its own necessarily confirms that you have adrenal fatigue, experiencing a large number of them at the same time may be a warning sign. If you are experiencing many of these symptoms, we suggest that you consult your chiropractor.