Adrenal fatigue is a rather common ailment worldwide. However, in Western society it is highly prevalent, and most people experience it at least once in their lifetime. Modern society can create a lot of stress and strain on overall well-being due to the demands from work, family life, responsibilities, and much more.
Anytime you are stressed, your adrenal glands kick in to support the body as a normal and healthy response. However, when the body experiences repeated stress for a prolonged amount of time, the adrenals can get drained and overburdened. This can lead to what is known as adrenal fatigue.
There are literally dozens of possible symptoms of adrenal fatigue. In this article, I go over 5 symptoms of adrenal fatigue that most people ignore because they are very common symptoms that occur even if they don’t have adrenal fatigue at all. Moreover, many people aren’t aware of what adrenal fatigue is, and so they don’t connect these symptoms to this ailment.
1. Weight Gain
Weight gain is a very common symptom of adrenal fatigue. Adult obesity rates now exceed 35% of the population in 7 states 1. Weight gain is possibly the most ignored symptom of adrenal fatigue because obesity is such a prevalent issue, especially in North America.
When the body experiences chronic stress, a hormone called cortisol is released as a normal stress response. However, excessive cortisol circulating through the body can lead to weight gain 2. Cortisol specifically causes fat gain in the stomach area. If you hold excess weight around your tummy, you may want to assess if it may be related to chronic stress.
I personally experienced adrenal fatigue years ago, and during this time I steadily gained almost 45 lbs! Once I addressed my adrenal fatigue, my body slowly but surely returned to it’s healthy weight.
2. Digestive Issues
Similar to weight gain, digestive issues are also often overlooked as a symptom of adrenal fatigue since so many people already experience digestive issues. If you are experiencing adrenal fatigue, digestive issues can occur for a few reasons:
Digestion is hindered and naturally slows down when the body is stressed, and therefore, chronic stress can lead to chronic digestive issues.
During stressful times, many people tend to overeat, or eat unhealthy foods, which can also cause digest upset.
Chronic stress can reduce the quantity of good bacteria in the intestinal system 3 which results in poor digestion.
3. Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure is a key indicator of possible adrenal fatigue. Many people don’t test their blood pressure until they reach the age where they need to do regular physical checkups by their primary health care physician. Most teens and young adults don’t even know if they have high, low, or normal blood pressure.
Most people are only concerned about having high blood pressure. Since a large portion of people don’t care to check their blood pressure unless they have concerns, low blood pressure can most definitely be an overlooked symptom of adrenal fatigue.
Depression can affect anyone, and this is one reason that it’s an overlooked symptom of adrenal fatigue. Depression affects more than 300 million people worldwide 4 according to the World Health Organization.
At the stage of adrenal fatigue where the adrenals are so burned out that they don’t create a proper stress response anymore, depression can kick in. Extreme fatigue and burnout are classic symptoms of adrenal exhaustion, and when the body has gotten to the point that it is tired and under-functioning, depression often occurs. The lack of stress response makes it more and more difficult for the body and mind to cope in difficult situations.
Furthermore, stressful life experiences and trauma, which often lead to adrenal fatigue, can also ultimately lead to depression. I personally experienced minor depression during adrenal exhaustion, which was corrected when I addressed my adrenal issues.
5. Cravings for Stimulants
People who experience adrenal fatigue often crave stimulants such as caffeine, salt, sugar, and junk food.
The exhaustion that is associated with adrenal fatigue often causes people to rely on caffeinated beverages such as coffee and energy drinks to compensate for a severe lack of energy. A large number of teens and adults rely on their daily coffee in order to feel “normal.”
Since blood pressure can typically be low, many find that they crave salty foods. Furthermore, sugar and junk food are often eaten due to high stress and even emotions.
Read The Signs and Don’t Ignore Your Symptoms
There are many solutions to adrenal fatigue; however, it can be a complex process to address. If you want to correct your adrenal fatigue in a natural way, support the body with a healthy diet, stress management techniques, lifestyle changes, and supplementation.
If you experience any of the above signs or symptoms, or if you think you may be experiencing adrenal fatigue due to chronic stress, I highly recommend seeking out medical advice from your primary health care physician or a holistic health practitioner such as a naturopath or nutritionist.