Stress is a response to situations in life where our mind and body are in high demand to prepare for dangers that may arise. This response is so common that various media, including magazines and blogs, suggest steps towards stress relief. But what happens when you have been stressed for an extensive period of time? Those migraines you feel prior to entering your place of employment, the change in your menstrual cycle, mind fogginess, difficulty concentrating, irritability, difficulty with sleep or gaining weight despite the exercise and nutritional considerations you’ve taken into account, are often results of a condition called Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome. So why isn’t anyone talking about this condition?
If you were to enter into a mental health office and stated some of the aforementioned symptoms, you may be diagnosed with anxiety and/or depression. Alternatively, a medical physician would complete blood work indicative of a hormonal imbalance, thus treating you for early onset menopause. The condition, Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, often mimics mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression and other medical conditions, which is why Adrenal Fatigue is often misdiagnosed.
Adrenal Fatigue is a condition where the body has been in a state of high stress and the result of this leads to the body adapting in ways to maintain the stress hormone- cortisol. In order for the cortisol levels to stay consistently high in preparation for dangers in our environment, important hormones such as estrogen and progesterone must decrease. This creates a toxic environment within our body and brain and it manifests by physical changes within our body and mental state.
Ways to find out if Adrenal Fatigue is a possibility
1. Primary Physician:
Communicate with your primary care physician your concerns about Adrenal Fatigue. Ask your doctor to complete any lab work and an examine beyond the basics to find the diagnosis.
2. Holistic physicians:
Holistic physicians tend to diagnose Adrenal Fatigue more quickly than a traditional medical physician. In some states, holistic physicians do not operate under the insurance umbrella so they are able to administer tests (non-harmful of course) that can easily identify adrenal fatigue.
How to treat Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome
Depending on the severity of stress and high anxiety in your life, Adrenal Fatigue can range from mild, modern to severe. Thus, it can lead to 3 months to a year to establish mind and body balance. Staying consistent is the most effective key to addressing this.
Caring for yourself does not have to be expensive or consume a great deal of time. Painting your own nails can be considered a form of self-care and it’s inexpensive. It’s incumbent for your health to be intentional and purposeful in carving out a minimum of five minutes of your time to your needs.
Attending therapy is a form of self-care and can be a benefit in this area as it helps to explore the various stressors in your life. You and your therapist can come up with ways to manage your response to toxic situations and develop coping skills which you can apply to reduce your stress more efficiently.
We are often instructed to exercise for 30 minutes or more at a time, however, this could actually be detrimental to someone experiencing high levels of stress as it begins to overuse the adrenal glands. Therefore, 20 minutes of lower impact physical exercise, such as yoga, tai chi, walking, water aerobics, and others can be sufficient for your body and mental clarity.
When we are stressed, we tend to gravitate toward unhealthy foods including sugars and caffeinated beverages. This is because our body may be lacking in certain nutrition and our mind and body tend to supplement unhealthy substitutions for the nutrition it is actually craving. For instance, if you crave chocolate or sweets, it may be likely that your body is magnesium deficient.
You know your body more than anyone. If you experience the symptoms above, communicate them to your providers. There is hope! Adrenal Fatigue can be treated. However, the work towards your health will be led by you. And if Adrenal Fatigue is not an ailment that you are dealing with, it won’t hurt to apply some of the techniques mentioned above to continue to promote well-balanced living.
This post was written by…
Reynelda Jones is a Licensed Masters Social Worker, Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselors, and Acudetox Specialist. She currently has a private practice called A Solution B in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she specializes in working with women who have experienced childhood trauma which is negatively impacting their current relationships and family dynamics with an infusion of holistic care to incorporate stress relief in the areas of the mind, body, and home.
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