Take the quiz below to find out if adrenal fatigue is the cause!
Fatigue is one of the most common complaints in a family medicine office! While there can be many underlying causes, in our fast paced society, "adrenal fatigue" comes up often!
The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys. They are in charge of producing our stress response hormone: Cortisol.
Selye's stress adaptation response describes what happens when we undergo stress:
1. Alarm Stage: Our mind and body sense a stress, and we enter into a fight or flight adaptation to deal with the stressor.
2. Resistance Stage: If the stressor continues, as often happens, our nervous system returns to normal function so we do not experience acute stress like before. However, our cortisol and adrenalin continue to release at higher than normal levels, our blood sugar levels increase along with our heart rate and blood pressure.
3. Exhaustion Stage: Our bodies can only keep up the resistance reaction for so long, and eventually, we become less able to respond to stress and release our fight/flight hormones like we did before. This, in part, is a protective mechanism, but not being able to respond to things we should comes with consequences.
Someone who is tired and stressed may be in any one of these stages, but people often seek help when they are in the end of the the resistance stage or have entered the exhaustion stage.
They're often depleted, fatigued, their sleep doesn't refresh them, they become indifferent to things they used to care about, and they simply don't have the physical or mental energy to do much beyond the absolutely necessary.
While there may be other factors involved (low thyroid function, anemia, physical diseases/conditions, depression/anxiety) to be investigated by a doctor, here is a quick quiz to see whether your lack of energy could be due to Adrenal Fatigue, also known as hypocortisolism.
Do you have adrenal fatigue? Simply answer yes or no to the following questions:
Tally up your answers and if you answered yes to:
You may be experiencing the beginning aspects of adrenal fatigue. If you are still able to function despite being tired, it may mean that you are otherwise healthy and that your stress response is still working.
However, the fact that your energy is low and you answered yes to a few of these questions means that you need to make sure:
You may be adrenal fatigued, or on the tail end of the resistance stage. You don't have all of the symptoms that a very depleted person might, but your symptoms are likely interfering with your function, and your enjoyment in life.
There can be overlap with other diseases and conditions such as hypothyroidism, depression, diabetes, and menopause to name a few. Always get a full work-up!
You are likely adrenal fatigued. You are experiencing symptoms in most realms that the adrenal glands affect which include: energy production and carbohydrate metabolism, immune function, fat storage, electrolyte balance.
The good news is that through self care, proper nutrition, herbal and vitamin support, and lifestyle changes you can recover from adrenal fatigue and return to a healthy stress response. The bad news is that this takes time, effort, and commitment.
There is not a quick fix for adrenal fatigue, and this is actually a good thing. It means that by making long lasting changes, not only will you recover from adrenal fatigue and improve your energy, but you'll protect your health long term, improve stress resiliency, and prevent future burn out.
Top Recommendations for Adrenal Fatigue:
1. Regular sleep schedule: Ideally asleep by 10:00 pm nightly, and awake by 7:00 am each morning
2. Ensure you're eating good quality protein with each meal
3. Eliminate sugar and caffeine as much as possible
4. B Complex, Vitamin C, and Magnesium are all great vitamins to support adrenal function
5. Herbal teas like ashwagandha, rhodiola, schizsandra and avena sativa all support a healthy stress response
Have you ever heard of "Psychosocial Obstetrics and Gynecology"?
I hadn't either.
But a recently published study, followed by a little more research into the subject, lead me to this interesting area of medicine!
The study published in the British Medical Journal looked a the connection between: "bilateral oophorectomy" (removal of both ovaries) and trauma or adverse experiences (either in child- or adulthood).
Research found abuse, neglect, and violence all significantly increased the risk factor for this surgery before menopause.
The reason women may get an oophorectomy, or ovarian removal, can be for conditions such as:
Early removal of a vital female organ such as the ovaries does not come without risk. The ovaries are in charge of producing estrogen and progesterone. When removed before menopause, where production of these hormones would naturally decline, you lose the protective and beneficial effects of these hormones.
This means that women who have this procedure are more at risk for:
This study highlights an important connection in female health and gynecology issues with mental health and psychological stress.
Other studies have looked at these connections too!
They show the importance of treating both the women's health concern and any associated psychological stress or dysfunction.
While some of these may just be associations, rather than a clear cause and effect, we know the mind-body connection is powerful beyond belief. There are likely several ways that our thoughts, experiences, and behaviours can impact our gynecological health (and visa versa).
Here are a few other connections that have been found:
If you have menstrual, breast, ovarian, or other gynecological concerns, it worth looking at how your mental health has been impacted by these concerns, and how it may even be worsening or contributing to your physical health issues.
Simple tips to improve the gynecological and psychological connection:
Yours in health,
Dr. Ashley Nelson
If you're looking for a more holistic look into your health, or are curious to learn more about these connections, book a free consult with Dr. Nelson below!
Did you know that up to 85% of women experience some form of disturbed mood following pregnancy?
If left untreated, unaddressed, or unrecognized, this can lead to Post-Partum Depression which puts both the mom and baby at risk of negative long term effects, both behavioural and developmental.
While it is difficult to accurately predict who is most at risk, there are 3 main areas to consider:
Healthy Hormone Balance:
Since a history of PMS is associated with post-partum, getting hormone balance in check prior to pregnancy could help with prevention. Estrogen dominance, which is often involved in PMS and other hormonal concerns, is a state where estrogen is higher relative to progesterone. This does not always mean that there is too much estrogen however, it could be more of a lack of progesterone from anovulatory cycles for example [lack of ovulation] which could occur for several reasons. [Treat the cause!]
Our experience of stress causes the release of cortisol. Since the creation of cortisol, which is a hormone much like estrogen or progesterone, requires the same building blocks as our other hormones, it can actually lead to decreased production of progesterone. Our body would rather use it's resources to deal with stress rather than focus on conception!
Because both personal and family history of mood concerns can increase the risk of post-partum, it is important to reflect on this prior to pregnancy. There can be many factors involved in mood disturbances such as inflammation, hormone imbalance, poor blood sugar regulation. Depending on which triggers are involved, different supplements and dietary approaches can be used to create a more stable mood. For example:
While prevention is ideal, many of these strategies are still useful and can be applied for women experiencing post-partum depression!
As always, before making any dietary or supplement changes, it is important to consult with your Naturopathic Doctor or Family Doctor.
Yours in health,
Dr. Ashley Nelson, ND
Do you have question?
Here are the types of hormone tests available through your Naturopathic Doctor [prices are for reference - may be subject to change]
Serum Hormone Testing (Blood):
Estradiol: $35.55 - Progesterone: $18.10
FSH: $14.21 - LH: $11.64
DHEAS: $25.85 - SHBH: $50.00 - Testosterone: $18.10
TSH [thyroid stimulating hormone]: $12.28
Thyroid panel: $60.95
Salivary Hormone Testing (Saliva):
Female Panel: $220
Individual Hormones: $66
Two Point [morning, night] Cortisol Testing: $110
Providing some easy,
take-home tips and Naturopathic Perspectives on Health & Wellness.