What You Should Know About Adrenal Fatigue

Recently, a colleague of mine, Eric Holmlund, who assists me with internet marketing, wrote on his blog why he has not been writing much lately. He says,

“The reason I haven’t written much lately, and haven’t created any new lessons in the past few months is because I haven’t had the energy to do it.

I’ve been experiencing what is probably best described as Adrenal Fatigue. In case you’re curious about it, there is a very good article explaining it here”: http://www.lammd.com/articles/adrenal_fatigue.asp

Here’s another post from Positive Health Wellness on Everything You Need To Know About Adrenal Fatigue (Plus Management Guide).

Eric has gotten to a point in his life where he has physiological symptoms of severe stress. He writes:

“Various medical tests showed that my adrenals simply aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do… resulting in various chemical imbalances in my body. For example, I’m not producing much cortisol, which has several physical ramifications. To aggravate the situation, my adrenals are compensating by producing too much epinephrine (adrenaline), which results in a lot of anxiety and psychosomatic symptoms.”

This advice from Eric has enormous implications for many people. I applaud what he has done in bringing his condition out into the open. What ever we can do to help people understand that stuff to do with emotions is vital to our well-being and NOT something to hide away. Everything we do in life is about our emotions. It is imperative we learn to recognize, use, understand and manage our emotions if we are ever going to enjoy perfect health. Positive emotion is a non-problem status. Negative emotion (stress) is unhealthy and leads to emotional constipation. Eric has boldly, and at some risk to his business, let us know his current medical condition. He says that he believes “this condition is most likely the result of many years of poor sleep habits, constant blood sugar spikes, and internalizing my stress and anxiety.” From my own experience, I believe this to be true.

On May 29, 2011 I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. This came as an enormous shock to me as I, like Eric, have enjoyed good health and an active lifestyle. In my case, I believe that my current condition is mostly due to severe stress I have experienced since February 2009 when Karen and I were forced to close our counseling and coaching practice in Singapore and return to Australia as bankrupts due to the severe adverse impact and failure of our business, brought on by the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2009. I have experienced severe anxiety over my family’s situation and financial stress over two years and unbeknown to me, my body has reacted in an adverse way, triggering Type 2 diabetes. I am now aware of what my body is doing and have put steps in place to manage it so that I can get on with living and a life of ease!

So what’s all this got to do with Adrenal Fatique. I had not heard of this condition until Eric mentioned it, and according to Dr. Lam’s website, many medical doctors are not fully knowledgeable about it . It seems to me that Adrenal Fatigue could be a progression of severe stressors playing havoc with our body if we don’t actively work on emotional stress. In Lesson 2 (Module 1) we have a detailed account of the effects of stress felt in the body:

Physiological effects felt in the body from accumulated stress include:

  1. A breakdown in the immune system. Making a person more susceptible to colds and flu, skin conditions, and other ailments.
  2. An interruption to the autonomic nervous system that copes with digestion, bowel irritation and evacuation, reproduction, and recovery from stress.
  3. A decrease in the level of serotonin – the chemical in the brain that is responsible for mood and thinking. Lowered serotonin leaves one feeling flat, despondent, depressed – a loss of “joie-de-vivre”. This depressed mood state often manifests as lethargy and “I can’t be bothered”. Thinking also becomes impaired and irrational.
  4. Lowered personal esteem – caused by a loud inner voice – which can lead to depression and/or nervous suffering.

What we do not cover in Emotional Wealth Academy, as we are not medical doctors, is what happens to our body after prolonged and chronic stress has done its work on us. I’m not saying that everyone who experiences physiological effects from stressors felt in the body will progress to adrenal fatigue. I am saying that given Eric’s experience and my own, we owe it to ourselves and our families to take emotional stress seriously and Emotional Wealth Academy is a starting point for understanding how stress is caused and what we can do about its symptoms.

If you are experiencing behavioral change, emotional distress and personal problems or are simply troubled by your feelings, please see your doctor or mental health professional and get early advice as to how you deal with adrenalin arousals felt in your body. Read our fact sheet on the physical, cognitive and emotional effects of stress. Do not let your adrenalin floods continue without seeking professional help.

Learn how to effectively manage emotional stress.

On his website, Dr. Michael Lam lists a number of the signs and symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue. He says:

“None of the signs or symptoms by themselves can definitively pinpoint Adrenal Fatigue. When taken as a group, these signs and symptoms do form a specific Adrenal Fatigue syndrome or picture of a person under stress. These signs and symptoms are often the end result of acute, severe, chronic, or excessive stress and the inability of the body to reduce such stress. Stress, once a “basket” term used by physicians to explain non-specific symptoms, undetectable by conventional blood tests, is not a mystery to the body at all.

The ability to handle stress, physical or emotional, is a cornerstone to human survival. Our body has a complete set of stress modulation systems in place, and the control center is the adrenal glands. When these glands become dysfunctional, our body’s ability to handle stress is reduced.

The adrenal glands are two small glands, each about the size of a large grape. They are situated on top of the kidneys. Their purpose is to help the body cope with stress and help it to survive. Each adrenal gland has two compartments. The inner or medulla compartment, modulates the sympathetic nervous system through secretion and regulation of two hormones, called epinephrine and norepinephrine, which are responsible for the fight or flight response. The outer adrenal cortex comprises 80 percent of the adrenal gland and is responsible for producing over 50 different types of hormones in three major classes – glucocorticoids, mineralcorticoids and androgens.

The most important glucocorticoid is cortisol. When this is lowered, the body will be unable to deal with stress. This happens in Adrenal Fatigue.”

What You Should Know About Adrenal Fatigue – Dr. Lam

About Dr. Mike Gosling

Best known for creating The Emotional Leader Program, Mike is a leading Executive Coach, editor of this blog, and Co-Founder of RelationshipsMe.com. Connect with him on Twitter, at Facebook, and LinkedIn.