Holiday Stress & Adrenal Fatigue

by Magnolia on December 10, 2012

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I don’t know about you, ladies, but I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays.  I love the season, I love spending time with my family, and I love all of the festivities.  But I hate the stress that comes along with it.

I always spend too much money – always.  I eat entirely too much sugary, high fat, high calorie holiday food.  I don’t get enough sleep, and all of the extra running around to this event and that event is just exhausting.

Of course, the hormone imbalance of menopause doesn’t exactly help either. Because, let’s face it. Nothing puts a damper on your holiday cheer like hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and crashing fatigue!

Double that if you are also suffering with adrenal fatigue, as many women do who are going through menopause. But how do you know if you are suffering with adrenal fatigue, or if it is just your garden variety fatigue from menopausal hormone imbalance?

What are the signs? What are the symptoms?  Who is more likely to suffer from adrenal fatigue, and how serious is it? Dr. Paul Savage, MD¹, with the Ageology Physicians Group in Chicago, Illinois, recently addressed these questions for The Perimenopause Blog.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue?

Extreme fatigue is one of the primary symptoms of adrenal fatigue, especially early in the morning, just after waking.  During the day you may begin to feel better for a while, and improve until mid-afternoon, when you might feel you need to take a nap.

After napping, you may improve until just after dinner before you begin to feel really tired again. If you stay up past 9:00 p.m., you get a second wind, and then it’s hard to fall asleep.  If you eat starchy food, a lot of sugar, or if you skip a meal, the fatigue is worse.

A decreased ability to handle stress is also a symptom of adrenal fatigue.  What you used to be able to handle or shrug off becomes a huge burden. You may suffer with a lot of colds, and have a harder time recovering when you get them.

Other signs of adrenal fatigue can be blood pressure drops when you stand up, or if you scratch a line on your skin with your fingernail, the line remains for longer than 5 seconds.

If you shine a bright light in your eye in a dark room, instead of your pupil getting smaller, as it should, someone suffering with adrenal fatigue would have pupils that “bounce,” having a difficult time staying contracted.

How Serious is Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is a serious condition, though it is not fatal.  However, unbalanced cortisol levels as a result of adrenal fatigue, can make you more susceptible to infection, chronic illness, and possibly even cancer.

Who is Likely to Suffer with Adrenal Fatigue?

Usually, women between the ages of 35 and 45, who have children, work full-time, do not eat well, do not exercise, and are either very thin or overweight, are the typical profile for adrenal fatigue.  However, they usually do not suspect that their exhaustion and tiredness is due to adrenal fatigue. They might suspect depression, low thyroid function, or just chronic fatigue in general.

However, anyone who does not get enough rest and relaxation, who is under a lot of stress, or feels  trapped and overwhelmed, has experienced chronic, emotional, physical trauma or illness, with few outlets for emotional release, can also suffer with adrenal fatigue.

How is Adrenal Fatigue Treated?

One of the best treatments for adrenal fatigue is good old fashioned sleep, though admittedly, it is difficult to sleep once you’ve reached adrenal exhaustion, due to erratic cortisol levels.  Taking steps to minimize stress, relaxing more during the day, moderate exercise, even laughter is great medicine for adrenal fatigue.

In the event that adrenal support is needed, supplements such as DHEA, an important hormone produced by the adrenal glands, which supports healthy adrenal function, can be taken under the supervision of a physician.  B-Vitamins, which are often depleted during times of chronic stress, can also be a huge help in recovering from adrenal fatigue.

It is also important to take steps to balance your hormones during menopause to help you recover as well.  If you are unsure if you are suffering with adrenal fatigue take this online adrenal fatigue profile test.

And remember ladies, while it may be better to give than to receive, if you’re not giving good health to yourself first, you can’t give to others!


¹Dr. Paul Savage MD FACEP, is the CEO of Ageology physicians group in Chicago, Illinois.  Dr. Savage is an acknowledged expert in the field of bioidentical hormones, anti-aging and regenerative medicine and metabolic medicine and is nationally known and recognized as a leader in this field.

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