Ever feel like you’re constantly running on adrenaline … and not in a good way? You could be. It’s a condition called adrenal fatigue, and it’s not the only sign you might have it.
As a qualified nutritionist I’ve learned that Adrenal fatigue has turned into a “catch-all” diagnosis; when it strikes, it can affect everything from your mood to your weight, to your digestion. Because its symptoms can be so broad, adrenal fatigue can be tough to diagnose. But honestly, many people—especially women—are at high risk for developing the condition.
Technically, adrenal fatigue isn’t an accepted diagnosis in Western medicine; instead, it’s usually called adrenal insufficiency, which is more severe and usually requires medication to balance hormonal levels. But holistic and integrative practitioners aren’t afraid to blame adrenal fatigue when they see more than one symptom in a patient because hormone dysfunction is unfortunately very common in our modern age.
Our adrenal glands produce and regulate the hormones in the body. The combination of stress and anxiety paired with outside contributors, like phytoestrogens in processed food and hormone disruptors in medication and beauty products, can have a reductive effect on our body’s ability to properly produce and balance natural hormones.
So if you can’t lose weight or just don’t feel like yourself, it might not be normal … It might be your hormones. Keep scrolling to see if any of these symptoms match your complaints.
Break out in a sweat like you’ve just gotten out of a SoulCycle class while you’re doing something totally low-key, like walking down the street or buying groceries? That could be your body’s signal that something’s up. We have two different types of sweat—the kind that’s meant to self-cool your body (think: during a hot summer day or intense workout class), and the kind that’s a little stinky and caused by anxiety (like before a first date or job interview). Adrenal fatigue and hormone dysfunction are thought to be caused by chronic stress—essentially, your body is almost always in fight-or-flight mode, and doesn’t know when to chill out. So something as simple as walking down the street could cause you unexplainable anxiety, and result in that stinky anxiety sweat.
Even though working out is amazing for relieving anxiety and stress, overdoing it and skipping rest days can mess with your hormonal levels. If you’re trying to lose weight, this can be incredibly annoying—basically, the more you work out, the less likely you are to look and feel the way you want to. If you’re a normally fit person who works out five to seven days a week and eats clean, but still can lose weight around your belly, inner thighs, and triceps, you might have adrenal fatigue. Try adding a few rest days into your regimen, or even taking a few weeks off from intensive exercise to rebalance your hormonal levels.
It’s in the name—adrenal fatigue usually involves some general symptoms of unexplained fatigue. If you wake up after eight hours of sleep still feeling tired, or constantly feel like you’re ready for a nap no matter how much coffee you drink, adrenal fatigue might be to blame. First, ditch the coffee for a while, because caffeine is notorious for depleting energy stores. Then, work on getting at least eight hours a sleep a night.
A surprising side-effect of adrenal fatigue? You’ll find yourself craving salt. Persistent salt cravings are often a symptom of Addison’s disease, a severe adrenal insufficiency.
Ever had that feeling when you stand up, and the world gets a little hazy and starts spinning? Usually, it’s triggered by low blood pressure—which can actually be a sign of physical fitness. But sometimes having low blood pressure can be dangerous, like when it’s triggered by an electrolyte or hormonal imbalance.
Body aches—including stomach aches and indigestion—are a common side effect of adrenal fatigue. You might also notice that your body doesn’t seem to recuperate from workouts or injuries as well as it should … Fatigue coupled with imbalanced hormones inevitably slows the recovery process.
And it might not manifest as nervousness—sometimes anxiety feels more like anger, confusion, cloudy thinking, or even aggression. Mostly, you just won’t feel like yourself—things that would never make you think twice suddenly set you off. Or if you’re normally laid back, you feel yourself dwelling on thoughts to the point where it’s almost obsessive.
Everyone has a different relationship to sex. But if your drive went from twice a day to twice a month and nothing in your relationship has changed, it might be your adrenals. Try adding Sun Potion’s pine pollen into your smoothies.