When the Stress Button Is Always On
Stress is defined as anything the body has to react to—good, bad, or neither. So the food we eat, the environment we live in, our physical makeup, and the emotions that we experience require constant correction from the body’s systems. If you’re facing danger, the body’s stress response is good. If you’re speeding to work or facing tight deadlines, this perceived danger tricks the stress response system into constant action.
Ideally, the body shouldn’t be on red alert all the time. If it is, patients can begin to feel tired, report less restful sleep, have difficulty managing family and work interactions, and have more trouble concentrating or making decisions. In response, some patients may sleep less or sleep excessively, lose track of their diets, disengage from social support networks, and generally feed a vicious cycle.
Adrenal fatigue is often a term of last resort. After other challenges have been ruled out, it best fits patients who report feeling a great deal of stress, general tiredness, feeling “off,” or having low energy. At this point it could be that a patient’s adrenal glands can’t keep up with the brain or nervous system signals for hormone release.
The adrenal glands produce hormones like cortisol, aldosterone, and others. The pituitary gland, the renin-angiotensin system, and other hormones trigger the release of these chemicals. They fuel the body’s response to stressors like food consumption, immune challenge, and blood pressure regulation. The adrenals also produce adrenaline and noradrenaline. When facing a real or perceived threat, the sympathetic nervous system triggers the release of these hormones to provide energy and push blood to the brain and muscles.
Lifestyle changes can be helpful in reducing stress, and adrenal support can also be addressed through nutrition. Patients should watch their diets and work toward healthy choices. Supplements with targeted support for the endocrine system, cardiovascular health, mood, and cellular function can also provide support for the body’s innate healing mechanisms to do their job. Supplementation can support patient efforts to improve diet and lifestyle choices.