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What is Adrenal Fatigue and its Relationship to Chronic Stress?
Dr. Stephanie Jordan Nov 16, 2020

Just reading that heading causes me to feel some stress.  As a functional medicine practitioner and acupuncturist, I see normally healthy individuals suffering from the results of stress every day.

We live in a world of uncertainty which causes fear and a lack of safety, and an awareness of lack of control.  The conflicting information we are being given about this pandemic caused by COVID19 can cause our heads to spin.


Physiologically, what happens is that stress triggers the “fight or flight” response.  Simply put, when that BEAR is in front of us, we have to decide to fight it or run.  No matter what we decide we need cortisol in our system to give us the energy we need.  The brain sends the message to our pituitary gland which sends the message to the adrenal glands to release Cortisol.  That influx of cortisol helps us to deal with the situation.


What is supposed to happen next is that after the stressor (the BEAR) is gone, a message should be sent back to the brain to stop sending the information that we still need cortisol.  Over time, if we are consistently having to deal with stress, that message does NOT get sent and the brain doesn’t get the information to turn off the release of cortisol.  This results in Adrenal Fatigue.


What also happens is the heart rate continues to be elevated and that can have long term effects.  There other issues such as neuropsychiatric effects which can affect memory, learning and emotional issues.  Emotions, in general, can become much more pronounced.  Having adrenal fatigue is related to anxiety and depression, difficulties losing weight, blood sugar dysregulation, insomnia, digestive difficulties, and immune disorders.


So what can we do?


  1. From a functional medicine point of view, it would be helpful to get salivary adrenal function lab tests.Then supplements can be suggested which are based on actual lab results rather than on the latest article that comes out.


  1. From an acupuncture point of view, stress reduction and balancing body systems would be very helpful.


  1. Take a fresh look at what is causing your stress and what else you might be able to do to mediate that. It may be not watching as much news, journaling, finding someone to talk to, or finding a way to be less isolated if that is what you may be doing.


  1. Look at your diet/food plan. If you don’t have a food plan, perhaps create one. Unconscious eating usually makes us feel worse.


  1. Exercise. I cannot stress enough the importance of this to your health. We all know this, but some of us are extremely challenged when it comes to creating an exercise routine.  Start small—even a 10” commitment can help.


  1. Get good sleep.


Whenever you are making Lifestyle changes there is much to learn and more than one way to do it.  Please call me to set up a telehealth appointment to discuss any of these concerns including coaching assistance as you walk through these uncertain times.