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The Faces of Adrenal Burnout

Mary Shomon

Lack of energy, stamina, pain, insomnia, mood swings and more should be addressed since these symptoms don’t represent good health. These symptoms often correlate with adrenal fatigue – the state of exhausted adrenal glands. For the majority of cases, adrenal fatigue is secondary to some other underlying health issue such as chronic, hidden inflammation. Stress can come in a variety of forms, but your body’s response is the same. It can take years for your adrenal glands to fail to meet the demands of your daily life, ultimately resulting in adrenal exhaustion.

Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

If you’re suspecting that you have adrenal fatigue, ask yourself if you suffer from these symptoms:

  • Lack of energy
  • Have trouble getting up in the morning
  • Either have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Need caffeine or energy drinks to keep going
  • Feeling exhausted for no reason
  • Crave either salty or sweet snacks
  • Inability to handle stress
  • Chronic allergies
  • Poor memory
  • Poor concentration
  • Depression
  • Menstrual cycle irregularities
  • Chronic pain
  • Slow healing from injuries
  • Bruise easily
  • Low blood pressure
  • Cystic breasts
  • Feeling momentarily lightheaded after standing up
  • Sensitive to cold

If you answered yes to any of these questions then consider adrenal fatigue as a possible explanation.

What Are Some of the Causes and Triggers of Adrenal Fatigue?

  • An acute life stress — death of a loved one, loss of a job, divorce, etc.
  • Prolonged emotional or life stress — particularly when you have an inability to manage this chronic stress
  • Infectious illness (acute and chronic)
  • An accident or surgery
  • Other hormonal deficiencies or imbalances
  • Insufficient levels of good-quality sleep
  • Poor diet and nutritional deficiencies
  • Overuse of stimulants
  • Substance abuse


The Whole Body Suffers Under Adrenal Fatigue

What does adrenal fatigue actually look like in and on your body? Not good. Essentially, under stress, all systems that are required for rest, repair, and digestion shut down. Below are just a few examples of how stress can affect your whole body:


In sleep-deprived individuals, the mean cortisol levels are elevated. Chronic lack of REM sleep can reduce a person’s energy, mental vitality and induce depression.


Abnormal adrenal rhythms can alter the cells’ ability to produce energy. That is why all people with adrenal fatigue will be affected in this area. You might have a hard time rising in the morning or have low energy throughout the day. These are signs of exhausted adrenals.


Chronic long-term stress makes it difficult to think, organize and store new memories or retrieve long-term ones. An abnormal cortisol level interferes with the chemicals the brain uses for its cellular intercommunication. This also decreases the function of the hippocampus, which is the part of your brain that forms memories.

Thyroid Function

Often, hypothyroid symptoms such as fatigue and low body temperature are due to stress or adrenal fatigue. Countless studies show that chronic adrenal stress depresses hypothalamic and pituitary function – two organs that direct thyroid hormone production. Adrenal stress can also reduce the conversion of T4 to T3, leading to hypothyroidism.

Immune System

Short- and long-term stress is known to suppress the immune response in the lungs, throat, urinary tract, and intestines. If the cortisol cycle is disrupted, especially at night, then the immune system is adversely affected; allergic reactions increase and the resistance to infection is decreased.

Muscles, Joints, and Bones

Abnormal adrenal rhythms lead to compromised tissue healing, reduced tissue repair, increased tissue breakdown, and chronic pain. If cortisol levels are imbalanced, our bones do not rebuild well, and we are more prone to osteoporosis.

Skin Regeneration

Yes, you have to take your “beauty sleep” if you want good-looking skin! This is because human skin regenerates mostly at night. When you are stressed or don’t sleep, less skin regeneration takes place.


Many couples engage in expensive fertility programs without properly focusing on their adrenal health. It’s a reality though that stress alters the brain signals, which trigger the ovaries to release eggs each month. So women under chronic stress ovulate fewer eggs than less stressed women. Men and their testosterone and sperm production are also affected by stress.

Luckily, there are many, efficient, natural, and non-invasive treatments that can help you bring your adrenals back into balance. Proper treatment for adrenal dysfunction can have profound effects. Bioidentical hormone therapy balances your hormones, including the hormones released during stress, with customized prescriptions that fit your body chemistry can greatly improve your quality of life.

If you are suffering from adrenal dysfunction and feel you are not getting the help you need, contact Holtorf Medical Group today.

Mary ShomonMary Shomon is a patient advocate and New York Times bestselling author of 13 books on health. Mary has been researching, writing and teaching about thyroid disease, hormonal health, weight loss, and autoimmune disease for two decades. In addition to her books, you can find her writing at and

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