Suffering From Adrenal Fatigue? - Part 1

Written by Anil Bajnath, MD
Posted June 7, 2022

Dear Longevity Insider,

We all know what fatigue is. It's that feeling of being tired, exhausted, drained, or just not up for anything. We've all experienced it at one time or another. But what about adrenal fatigue? Do you know what that is? Adrenal fatigue is a condition that results from prolonged stress and inadequate rest. It can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, and depression. But contrary to popular belief, adrenal fatigue is not a recognized medical diagnosis. So, what is it?

The term "adrenal fatigue" is actually an inaccurate description of the condition. The adrenal glands are not "fatigued" in the sense that they are tired or exhausted. Rather, they are not able to keep up with the demands placed on them. 

A more accurate term for the condition would be "adrenal insufficiency." This is because the adrenal glands are not able to produce sufficient levels of hormones. As a result, we may experience a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, and depression.

While adrenal fatigue is not recognized as a medical condition, it is a real phenomenon that can have a significant impact on our health. Some would speculate that this is seen as mitochondrial dysfunction. Meaning that the powerhouses of our cells are not working optimally. 

The term "adrenal fatigue" is used to describe a condition known as HPA-axis dysfunction. The HPA axis is a complex system that regulates the body's response to stress. It involves the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands. 

Under normal circumstances, the HPA axis works like a finely tuned machine. However, when we're constantly under stress, the system can become dysregulated. This can lead to a decrease in the production of adrenal hormones, as well as other hormones such as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). 

Adrenal System Explained

Our adrenals are two small glands that sit on top of our kidneys. These glands produce hormones that help us respond to stress. The most well known of these hormones is adrenaline, which gives us the "fight or flight" response. When we experience stress, our adrenal glands release adrenaline and other stress hormones, such as cortisol. These hormones prepare our bodies to deal with the stressor by increasing our heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. In short, they help us to deal with stressful situations.

Our adrenals also secrete DHEA, a hormone that plays a role in the development of sex hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen. DHEA levels decline with age, which is why older adults may experience a decrease in sex drive. DHEA works in our bodies to maintain a balance of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.

While the occasional release of stress hormones is normal and even necessary, chronic stress can lead to adrenal fatigue. When we're constantly under stress, our adrenals become overworked and unable to keep up with the demands placed on them. This can lead to a decrease in the production of stress hormones, as well as DHEA. As a result, we may experience a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, and depression.

More on Thursday!

To your longevity,

anil bajnath signature

Anil Bajnath MD
CEO/Founder, Institute for Human Optimization
Chief Medical Officer, Longevity Insider HQ

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