Our emotional state is dependent on so many factors in our lives—from romantic relationships and friendships, to interactions at work and the media we consume. If you’re constantly feeling down, with emotional outbursts that just don’t add up, you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue. Luckily there are ways to work through the negative impact that adrenal fatigue can have on your emotions, so you can feel more centered and in tune with yourself.
What is adrenal fatigue?
Your adrenal glands are your stress-coping organs, central to your hormonal system, located on top of your kidneys. They’re the energy centers of your body and produce more than 50 hormones that are essential for life. With so much high-stress around us, we often don’t realize that subtle changes in our daily routine can upset the balance of our adrenal glands. These glands play a major role in managing stress as they release hormones like cortisol and adrenaline in response to perceived threats. Chronic, daily stress can force the adrenal glands into overdrive and the constant output of stress hormones can then lead to adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue can manifest itself in a variety of mental, physical and emotional ways—Dizziness, fatigue, body aches, anxiety, depression and anger.
If you find yourself easily overwhelmed and have a hard time relaxing, you may be dealing with a variety of negative emotions on a day-to-day basis. Beyond the uncomfortable physical symptoms of adrenal fatigue—increased allergies, a lack of energy, a weakened immune system—emotional and mental symptoms can start to bleed into your personal life and hurt your overall well-being.
Never-ending brain fog
Though ‘brain fog’ may be a new term, you might be experiencing it in the early course of your adrenal fatigue. Brain fog a.k.a. clouding of consciousness is often manifested in the following ways: difficulty focusing on simple tasks, misplacing things, issues with short-term memory, forgetting something you were just told. Adrenal fatigue causes brain fog when you have increased cortisol levels, decreased quality (and quantity) of sleep and sustained inflammation.
Anger & resentment
Feeling irritable and on-edge is common with adrenal fatigue. Cortisol is a hormone that helps to regulate the stress response—you need cortisol in order to feel alert and emotionally balanced. When your adrenal glands have a reduced ability to produce cortisol, your body will default and release adrenaline in its place. If you’ve ever been in a situation where you feel like you’re ‘running on adrenaline,’ you’ll know this feeling. When adrenaline is released, you experience a jolt of energy, but the energy isn’t sustainable and soon after it’s released, you’ll experience a crash and burn. This sudden release of adrenaline can also make you prone to overreacting to situations, picking fights over trivial things and can ultimately lead to long-term grudges.
While ‘being depressed’ is often used in casual conversation, depression is a state of being that doesn’t simply translate into being sad or feeling down. Needless to say, depression doesn’t look one way. As a state of low mode, depression can often feel like a heavy weight on you, or a dark cloud that you can’t escape. This emotional state can also be an early indication that you’re experiencing adrenal fatigue. Imbalances in your hormones can have a direct impact on your mood. The decrease in your adrenal hormone production can be a direct cause of depression from adrenal fatigue.
Restoring your adrenal health
By rebalancing your lifestyle and making more intentional choices, you can get back to feeling like your best self again. Treating adrenal fatigue starts with addressing the root cause: Stress. By reducing daily stress in your life, you can help minimize the triggers of your adrenal fatigue.
Start with creating a serene environment and nighttime routine so that you can get consistent, quality sleep. Carve out time throughout your weekly schedule to clear your mind, whether it’s through exercise, meditation or hiking. Staying active (especially in nature) can offer great relief. Assess your diet and what you put on your plate. A nutrient rich diet with consistent meal times will work wonders in supporting your adrenals. Try to avoid excessive alcohol, caffeine and processed foods as these are more harmful than they are helpful to your adrenal glands. Finally, explore Traditional Chinese Medicine via acupuncture and/or Chinese herbs to help kickstart your journey to wellness.
Want to find out more about your own adrenal fatigue symptoms? Take my Adrenal Fatigue Quiz!