Today’s blog constitutes the third installment of my mini-series review of Integrative Psychiatry’s “4 Faces of Adrenal Fatigue” and each of the corresponding supplement bundles associated with these various stages of adrenal burnout. In the previous article, I addressed the high-flying “Wired for Sound” profile. Most people in that stage do not seek evaluation and treatment because, although stressed, they feel good and perform at high levels. Their stress hormones and chemicals are, for the time, able to keep up with peak demand. If, however, you are like most of us, you have taken such ample adrenal output for granted. And because you have not been regularly providing your body with the proper nutrients to continually replenish your adrenals, you have absolutely no reserves. You have now transitioned to the next zone of early-mid stage adrenal fatigue. This stage is hallmarked by mixed features of both fatigue and anxiousness.
At a physiological level, your over-active alarm system has been pumping out more and more cortisol until your bodily organs and tissues have become immune or resistant to ever-increasing levels of this all important stress hormone. This “cortisol resistance” is similar to the Insulin Resistance seen in Type 2 Diabetes.
When you’re under stress for a long time, cortisol, your main stress hormone, remains elevated. Your cortisol receptors become less sensitive, and require more and more cortisol to keep you going, until your overworked and underpaid adrenals can no longer keep up with the demands of your stressful life.
That’s when you experience adrenal fatigue and exhaustion.
This remarkably common progression is not at first intuitive. It is caused by the strain on your adrenals from a prolonged intense demand for cortisol. Because your adrenals cranked out high levels of cortisol for so many months or even years, they have started to wear out and will, in time, partially or totally burn out.
Prolonged Stress and Increased Demand for Cortisol Leads to Adrenal Burnout
As an aside, it is important to note that your adrenal glands – which consist of three main layers – do not fail all at once. In some people, the cortex (that section of your adrenals that manufactures cortisol, aldosterone, and certain sex hormones) fails first; in others, the medulla (that section of the adrenals that makes adrenaline and norepinephrine) collapses first.
This state of mixed adrenal output – high cortisol with low neurotransmitters or low cortisol with high neurotransmitters – can look the same superficially but require different treatments.
Because these two mixed states share so many symptoms – particularly the combination of fatigue with anxiousness bordering on agitation – it is particularly important for you, if experiencing this tandem, to have your cortisol and neurotransmitters tested.
Are there symptoms unique to these two very similar mixed states of adrenal burnout? In my clinical experience, the answer is yes: allergic and infected versus inflamed and in pain.
#2: “Wired and Tired” – Allergic and Infected
If you fall into a “Wired and Tired” profile and suffer with recurrent infections and frequent allergies, then you are more likely to be in a high cortisol/low neurotransmitter state. In that case, our bundle of adrenal support products below is your best choice.
Our “Wired and Tired” – Allergic and Infected Bundle
The “Wired and Tired” – Allergic and Infected profile is associated with fatigue, anxiousness, tension, insomnia and increased frequency of infections and allergies. During this stage, your cortisol is elevated while your adrenaline and norepinephrine are low. This bundle focuses on lowering cortisol, restoring sleep, supporting neurotransmitter tone, improving your mood and general outlook, and bolstering your immune activity.
Stay tuned for next time when I will address the “Wired and Tired” – Inflamed and in Pain Profile. Until then..