Adrenal Stress

Adrenal Stress

By Cynthia Thaik, M.D., FACC

Adrenal stress is a widely-discussed condition with a lot of symptoms common to many in modern society. The Holistic Healing Heart Center can offer help if you believe you are suffering from adrenal stress.

Signs You May Have Adrenal Stress

What is commonly called adrenal stress is also known by the term ‘adrenal fatigue’. There are plenty of factors that could lead to an adrenal fatigue diagnosis. The adrenal glands are two small organs located over the kidneys, part of the endocrine system governed by the pituitary gland. Despite their size, they have a significant number of responsibilities. They produce hormones to regulate a number of processes and systems. Your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, stress responses, and more are all affected by your adrenal functions. Here are signs that may indicate to you that your adrenal glands are not functioning well. If more than half of these apply to you, you could well be diagnosed with a medical condition.

  • Restlessness, even when you feel tired. Additionally, feeling poorly rested after you wake up. Low-quality or insufficient rest can cause a large number of medical issues. Sleep is a vital function of immunity, and being underslept negatively affects our ability to combat infections as well as effectively address other health issues.
  • Unusual levels of irritability and/or anger. This can often be caused by restlessness, but may also be attributable to hormone imbalances, which are discussed in more detail below.
  • You crave salty, fatty, sweet, or high-carb foods. Cravings of this sort, even when you’re otherwise eating healthily, can be an indication that your body is not processing what it is given correctly.
  • You experience weight gain, particularly around your middle. Weight loss is harder than it should be. There are many endocrine issues that can have a negative impact on your weight, most prominently thyroid problems.
  • You get tired in the mid-afternoon, and tend to need something caffeinated or sweet to perk you up. There are multiple reasons why you could be suffering from the three o’clock slump, but in concert with these other symptoms, you may find the cause to be endocrine system-related in nature.
  • You are unwell more often than usual, and it takes longer to recover. A greater susceptibility to mild illnesses such as minor respiratory infections or stomach bugs can be an indication of a greater problem.
  • You are experiencing depression or anxiety.
  • Your hormones are erratic. You may be having trouble with your libido and fertility. Variation in hormones is a significant factor in identifying adrenal issues such as Addison’s disease.
  • You are struggling with your focus and memory. Poor memory can often be a side effect of fatigue: the brain needs quality rest in order to properly process, log, and retrieve memories. Stress and endocrine issues can also negatively impact the brain’s memory functions.
  • You are experiencing digestive problems. Gut woes can be indicative of a number of issues around the body, but when combined with those above, it can point to a more specific subset of problems.

Factors in Adrenal Stress

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic situation we find ourselves in is extremely fertile ground for these symptoms of adrenal stress to manifest. Increased social isolation, overwork, and the mental strain of the situation make it much likelier that negative effects such as these will occur.

What’s more, there are known to be adrenal conditions caused by stress leading to high blood pressure. An imbalance of the hormone aldosterone can cause a type of high blood pressure known as resistant hypertension. It is not a stretch to imagine that adrenal stress can also be a source of high blood pressure.

Adrenal Fatigue Treatment

Some of the most effective ways to treat adrenal fatigue don’t involve doctors of any stripe. Learning to manage adrenal stress levels is something you can do at home. 

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Relaxation Techniques such as meditation and mindfulness can help your adrenal glands recalibrate and restore.

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Sleep Hygiene is a big factor. If your stress levels are interfering with the amount or quality of your sleep, take steps to improve it and offset those effects. Your body needs between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night to give your adrenal glands (and the rest of your body) the best chance possible of recuperating after the strains of the day.

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Maintaining Blood Sugar Levels can also help. Skipping meals, using coffee to spike energy levels, and relying on sugary foods to fill the gap puts your body through undue stress. Avoid sugary foods throughout the day. Start your day with a high-protein breakfast. Twenty grams of protein is an ideal way to kick off your day, and you can get it from a variety of sources. Seven ounces of nonfat Greek yogurt will hit the spot by itself. A cup of oats with a cup of nonfat milk and tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter will more than suffice. A breakfast burrito featuring a large egg, black beans, and cheese is another tasty option.

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Reducing Caffeine Intake is beneficial. While caffeine withdrawal is no walk in the park, once you’re no longer reliant on it you’ll find your natural reserves of energy are greater with none of the downsides that caffeine involves.

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Moderate Exercise can also help. Physical activity is beneficial for body and mind, but overindulging can be harmful. Stick to circuit training instead of high-intensity workouts.

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Adrenal Supplements are another option. Making sure you’re getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals is a great way to support your endocrine system. Look for supplements that include B-complex and magnesium.

The Holistic Healing Heart Center and Adrenal Fatigue

If you are concerned about your adrenal glands and worry that you might have Addison’s disease, adrenal fatigue, or another related complaint, let us at the Holistic Healing Heart Center know. We can test for adrenal fatigue and cortisol levels and give you our assessment of your health. We use a variety of testing known as the Adrenal Stress Index Panel, or ASI Panel. Book your appointment with us today to get tested.

About the author

Dr. Cynthia Thaik, M.D., FACC is a Harvard-trained cardiologist serving the greater Los Angeles community at her holistic health center in Burbank and Valencia, CA. Dr. Thaik is the author of Your Vibrant Heart: Restoring Health, Strength, and Spirit from the Body’s Core. To learn more about Dr. Thaik or the Holistic Healing Heart Center, or to schedule an appointment, please contact info@drcynthia.com or call (818) 842-1410.