Is Adrenal Fatigue really a myth?
Posted on 18th December 2019 at 08:06
Mention Adrenal Fatigue to a conventional practitioner and you’ll probably receive a very short answer. That it’s complete rubbish. A myth. How the – often vague – set of symptoms being experienced are probably all in your mind. Oh and there isn’t a specific blood test to diagnose it. Sadly, this isn’t a joke but something we hear all too often from Clients.
At best, another label may be put on the symptoms. Depression. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Glandular Fever (which, ironically, may not show up on a blood test depending on the virus concerned). However, as this means that a deeper underlying cause isn’t identified, any improvement tends to be short term at the best.
Why is this?
Well, to start with, the symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue tend to be very general and include:
• Lethargy, feeling tired all the time
• Finding it difficult to go to sleep while struggling to wake up in the morning
• A mid afternoon energy slump
• Brain fog, poor memory
• Depression, mood swings and irritability
• Weight gain
• Muscular aches, loss of muscle strength
• Hair loss
• Feeling out of sorts or “not right”
• Unstable blood sugar, sugar cravings
• Low libido
However, as soon as we start to talk to Clients about WHEN symptoms started, a common picture starts to emerge. And it’s all to do with long term – chronic – stress. In other words, the body being on long term “high alert” for a life threatening emergency that never appears…
The difficulty is that there isn’t a definitive list of what this stress might be, for the simple reason that what’s stressful to one person isn’t necessarily so to another. What’s exhilarating to one person might be a crushing burden to another.
At the same time, it’s very easy for an ongoing stress – or stresses – to fade into the background and just become “the way things are.” The norm. Long hours at work and / or a demanding job. Caring for children and / or loved ones. Issues surrounding work / life balance. Chronic ill health.
Then there are the “one off” events, which may come out of the blue or have built up over a period of time. Relationship breakup and divorce. The loss of loved ones. An accident or sudden ill health.
All too often, Clients have had a series of stressful events – ongoing and / or “one off” – whose cumulative effect then leads to problems. In these cases, it’s all too easy to focus on one particular event, while missing the effects of the others.
And this is where the donkey analogy comes in. We’ve mentioned it before – probably several times (!) – but it does bear repeating. Imagine a donkey, complete with two paniers to carry its load. The donkey has always trotted along quite happily with its load, so it’s gradually increased. The trot slows to a walk. The walk gets slower and slower, until the donkey grinds to a halt. Even worse, ends up in a heap on the ground. And no one can understand why… This is exactly what fatigue or exhaustion is like, regardless of the “label” put on it. Gradually grinding a person down until they just can’t keep going any more.
What’s the answer?
As always, it’s all about identifying the cause(s). What is – or has – caused the stress. And, as we’ve already mentioned, this can be quite a long list. Putting together a timeline with the series of events – whether “one off” or ongoing – in chronological order is often a complete revelation to Clients who simply hadn’t joined the dots. This is not only because it helps them realise how much they’ve been carrying and for how long. It also helps them see how their symptoms have developed over time. Perhaps, to start with, there was simply a vague feeling that “something wasn’t quite right.” They didn’t feel themselves. Then, over time, more specific symptoms started to appear. A “busy” head led to disturbed sleep, a feeling of lethargy and poor concentration.
Time and time again, we’ve noticed that once Clients see how things have developed, that this provides the impetus to start addressing the situation(s). They also realise, often for the first time, how well they’ve been doing to just keep on their feet and functioning day to day. Let alone anything else. Perhaps even give themselves a pat on the back for everything they’ve been doing.
It’s then about making the small changes we talk about regularly in this blog to start taking back control of their lives and recharging their batteries.
• Eating a good quality diet.
• Drinking plenty of water.
• Ditching the quick “energy fixes” of caffeine, alcohol and sugar which bring a short term burst of energy followed by a crashing low.
• Taking regular – but gentle – exercise.
• Having a night time routine to encourage a good night’s sleep.
• And, while it may sound counter intuitive, a 20 minute “power nap” during the day can make all the difference too.
• Regular time out to reduce stress, perhaps with meditation, deep breathing or other relaxation techniques.
• Asking for help, whether professional or within their circle or family and friends. And this can often be the hardest thing to do.
• Taking a good quality Vitamin B Complex or specific Adrenal support.
While it isn’t what Clients want to hear, it’s important to remember that it took time – years or, sometimes, decades – for the strain to start to show. This means that it’s going to take a little time to get things moving in the right direction. However, by seeing – often for the first time – what they’ve been through and starting to take steps to address this, Clients feel much better for simply taking back control of their lives.
Before we go, we’d just like to return to the all too often response from conventional practitioners that there’s no specific blood test for Adrenal Fatigue. While this is true in one sense, it is possible to measure levels of particular hormones in the blood. However, there is such a large range of what is considered “normal”, that it’s all too easy for people to come within the normal range while still showing symptoms. For this reason, looking at their particular timeline and how these events affected them, will usually give a much more accurate picture.
As always, the choice is yours.
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