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Stress and Adrenal Fatigue

Stress and Adrenal Fatigue

Stress can be a killer – quite literally research suggests; but, it can also make your day-to-day existence miserable. Who wants to walk or rush around all day as the oppressive weight of stress takes its toll on your body and your mind? Well… there must be a lot of people that do because it seems the majority of people are stressed!

There are certainly 3 main types of stress that have a major influence on us:

1. Mechanical stress: The kind that occurs from our job ergonomics, our posture, how we sleep and day-to-day weight bearing type activities.
2. Chemical stress: Often associated with diet and our environment around it; the toxins in the air, the fumes we breathe in daily, even the smells from the new car which is literally all of the toxins leaching out of the brand new materials.
3. Emotional stress: For some, stress is spelled LIFE. This doesn’t have to just be your boss, your spouse, the children, it could be influenced by the drive to work or the various family situations that are so numerous today. Either way, they all have an effect on our body.

Emotional Stress

When we look at the emotional side of stress itself – the causes of that stress can include any event or occurrence that a person considers a threat to his or her coping strategy or resources. Many researchers agree that a certain amount of stress is a normal part of a living organism’s response to the inevitable changes in its physical and/or social environment. Actually, that can be positive, as well as negative; because events can generate stress, as well as the negative occurrences. Stress-related disease, however, result from excessive and prolonged demands on an organism’s coping resources.

The Symptoms of Stress

The symptoms of the various stressors that we listed above can be manifested in either a physical/physiological way or a psychological way. Stress-related physical illnesses such as: irritable bowel syndrome, heart attacks and chronic headaches; all result from long-term over stimulation of a part of the nervous system that regulates the heart rate, blood pressure and digestive system.

Emotional illness type stress-related conditions result from an inadequate or inappropriate response to major changes in one’s life’s situation such as: marriage, completing one’s education, becoming a parent, losing a job or retirement. The term, “adjustment disorder” is often described by psychiatrists/psychologists with this type of illness. In the workplace, stress-related illness often takes the form of basically burn-out (a loss of interest in our ability to perform one’s job due to long-term, real or at least presumed real high stress levels).

The Effects of Stress on the Adrenal System

The stress in dealing with an illness, life crisis, or a continuing difficult situation can drain the adrenal resources (coping mechanisms) of even the healthiest person. Long term stress in cases where one finds themself placed on “high alert” without downtime, can leave the adrenal glands in “Fight or flight” mode far longer than one intend. For instance, this can be commonly observed after a long period of high alert stress ends, and the body’s adrenal related functions will continue on at high alert and the body continues to respond physiologically in that capacity, yet the person knows the long term crisis has ended. How many times do you hear of a person, such as a caregiver who has who spent years in that high stress capacity, only to have their body break down or succumb to death themselves after they are released from that demanding responsibility.

As the Adrenal Glands are your Stress Handling glands, these glands are the control center for over 50 hormones your body uses every day. When out of rhythm, the hormone imbalances that result, can wreak havoc on your life and in serious cases, can make it difficult to even get out of bed for more than a few hours per day.

Circadian Rhythm: Is your rhythm abnormal?

The normal adrenal rhythm involves the adrenal gland releasing steroid hormones with the highest value in the morning and the lowest values at night. A 24-hour cycle of this releasing process is known as the circadian rhythm.

When this rhythm becomes abnormal, many body functions are impacted:

  • energy production
  • muscle and joint function
  • bone health
  • immune response
  • inflammatory response
  • blood sugar
  • carb cravings
  • sleep quality
  • skin regeneration
  • thyroid function
  • intolerance to grains
  • increased cortisol as a stress response

If you are experiencing generalized fatigue and weakness, moodiness or depression, hormonal problems, skin problems, fibromyalgia, sleeping issues, hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome, or even premature menopause; your adrenal glands could be at fault. You should consider help from a professional that can assess your problems, perform a saliva test if necessary, and guide your recovery.

Is there a treatment?

When it comes to formal treatment for stress, the most effective solution is to find and address the source/trigger of your stress or anxiety. Unfortunately, this is not always possible and most certainly is not real easy. One of the more primary things to do is for the individual to take an inventory of what they themselves might think is making them “stressed out!”

Without a doubt, masking the symptoms of pharmaceutical treatment for many stress related disorders is still an extremely common form of therapy. The number of anti-depressants in the top 10 medications by prescription each year validates that statement. And yet, treatment of stress is one area in which the boundaries between traditional and alternative therapies really have changed in recent years. I believe this in part because people are recognizing that attempting to fix the problem is better than covering up the symptoms. One leads to resolution of a condition, the other and typically more and more, or different medications.

Various forms of physical exercise like yoga and Tai Chi, which were once associated with more of a counter culture, has become widely accepted as useful parts of mainstream stress reduction program. Other alternative therapies including nutrition-based programs, which include dietary guidelines and whole food supplements, as well as, acupuncture, aroma therapy with essential oils, therapeutic massage, and manipulative therapy for physically induced stress are continually gaining in popularity because of the effectiveness of those forms of treatment.

If you are concerned about stress in your life and how it is effecting your health. There’s never a better time to get started on becoming a better version of yourself than today.

February 2014 is “Discover Wellness with Dr. G” month at Natural Wellness Centre, check out our events page for more details.

Contact Natural Wellness Centre at (740) 687-0279 to find out how Dr. Grilliot can help!  

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