I borrowed this title from a Chicago Tribune article written written by Julie Deardorff in August of 2010. As I began researching Adrenal Fatigue I had no idea the topic is so controversial. You can guess the war is between tradition medicine and alternative practices. While Adrenal Fatigue seems to be increasingly common, there remains an unwillingness among medical doctors to diagnose it. Those who believe they are experiencing adrenal fatigue or exhaustion are fighting an uphill battle for legitimacy even as the term gains traction in alternative health circles and among Americans seeking a solution for chronic and unexplained fatigue, depression and malaise. Common symptoms also include difficulty falling asleep, inability to wake up in the morning, cravings for salt and sugar, anxiety and overall exhaustion.
The disorder is not recognized by most conventional medical specialists, major medical associations and even integrative medicine pioneers such as Dr. Andrew Weill, who reject the idea that excessive stress weakens the adrenals and causes health issues. However, according to those who believe in the adrenal fatigue theory, our life is so relentlessly stressful that our adrenals get overworked and peter out. James Wilson, a naturopath and chiropractor based in Arizona, coined the term adrenal fatigue in 1998 and has written what some call a definitive guide for patients. Many espouse lifestyle changes, dietary changes, exercise programs and supplements as the answers to improving the way you feel.
So, is adrenal fatigue real? “Yes and no, says Dr. Brent Bauer, Director of the complimentary and integrative medicine program at the Mayo Clinic.” I think it depends on who you talk to. Adrenal fatigue symptoms are very real for the people experiencing them. But it is a real medical condition? Medical research has found no definitive way to test for adrenal fatigue. The doctor’s bible of diagnostic codes, the ICD 10 does not recognize it as a medical diagnosis and the insurance companies will not pay.
However, “any doctor worth his/her salt understands that the term “adrenal fatigue” means mild adrenal insufficiency, The Hormone Foundation statement readily admits that adrenal insufficiency IS a real diagnosis. To me, they seem to be denying the possibility that some people may have a mild form of a real diagnosis. That’s short-sighted and excessively arbitrary” Richard Shames, MD
Resources: Hormone Health Resources
I am a stress junkie, addicted to natural substances my body produces. Adrenaline and Cortisol are my substances of choice. Living in a flight or fight modes takes its toll. I learned this way of being at my mother’s knee. She is unpredictable, erratic and volatile, and I became a stress junkie!
Most often when I begin a conversation with a client, the first thing my client says is: “I’m so stressed out!” or “I’m so over loaded!” It is almost a universal way of living for most of my clients. Believe me, stress takes its toll! Ever wonder what our body is doing to create the sensations we label stress?
Adrenaline is commonly known as the fight or flight hormone. It is produced by the adrenal glands in response to a message from the brain that a stressful situation has presented itself. It is responsible for immediate reactions and provides a surge of energy and focuses your attention to help you get out of a potentially dangerous situation.
Cortisol, also produced by the adrenal glands, is known as the stress hormone. It takes a bit more time to feel the effects of cortisol, minutes not seconds, in the face of stress. When you stew on a problem, your body is constantly producing elevated levels of cortisol and chronic elevated levels of cortisol can lead to serious issues. Too much cortisol can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure, decrease libido and disturb sleep patterns resulting in chronic fatigue. These are just a few examples. Unfortunately, our bodies require our cortisol levels to return to normal following a stressful event to replenish, but in our current high stress culture, the stress response is activated so often that the body doesn’t have time to complete that cycle.
All this is happening inside your body without your awareness while the sensation you identify is STRESS. If you continue to beat up your adrenal glands you maybe headed for a condition known as Adrenal Fatigue. I will be writing more about that in my next blog as well as de-stressing strategies.
Focus on beauty not on fear, dance with stress.
While browsing through one of my favorite website, psych central.com, I came across an article on baby boomers and depression. According to Dr. Donald A. Malone of the Cleveland Clinic, baby boomers have a higher prevalence rate than the generation before them. We are the generation that has continually attempted to have it all and now we are adding the diagnosis of depression to our list of gains. At 66 I feel better about my life than ever before, so I wondered why?
While baby boomers continue to gain material rewards and success, their achievements are often the result of a stressful lifestyle. It’s this stressful lifestyle that many experts link to their depression. And while endless fatigue may seem like a fact of life to the boomers, experts warn this too can lead to depression and other physical problems.
Often your family doctor is your first line of defense for a quick fix. Antidepressants are commonly prescribed, but sometimes even though many different types of antidepressants are tried, they don’t lift your mood. We are all familiar with the lifestyle changes that could help, like exercise, acupuncture, massage, but few of us will find the time or discipline to integrate them into our day to day lives. And often we forget to look at the psychological root of the problem that could be effectively treated through psychotherapy. However, with everyone in such a hurry, the last thing most want to hear is that they should get in their car, drive across town, and to for therapy once a week. Sounds like a glum situation!! But each of us has to remember that we got ourselves into this situation and we can find our way out. Small lifestyle changes, maybe antidepressants and therapy can help you find the personal root of your depression. While there are no quick fixes you have options that can make your life better.