What is Adrenal Fatigue?

According to Mayo Clinic, your adrenal glands produce a variety of your body’s hormones, namely cortisol and adrenaline. When the glands become fatigued, one may experience physical effects. Common symptoms include fatigue, body aches, weight gain, low blood pressure, lightheadedness, cravings for salty foods, sleep disturbances, and digestive challenges. This phenomenon is referred to as “adrenal fatigue.” 

Medical professionals believe that adrenal fatigue is most likely caused by chronic stress. When your body is stuck in a perpetual state of fight or flight, the parts of your body that produce stress hormones can become exhausted from overuse. This can disrupt our ability to rest while feeling safe, leading to sleep disturbances and fatigue. It may also disrupt our body’s sense that it is time to begin or stop eating, which can lead to cravings and weight fluctuations. 

This is an example of the mind-body connection. A mental disruption, such as chronic stress, can cause you to experience physical symptoms. This is your body’s way of telling you that this level of stress is not sustainable. It’s okay to reach out for help as you navigate this level of stress.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to check in with your doctor about other possible health challenges. Conditions such as iron deficiency or major depressive disorder have overlapping symptoms. Talking with your healthcare provider will help you rule out other potential causes. They may ask you to go through a blood test to determine your cortisol levels. Adrenal Fatigue is a relatively new diagnosis, so you may have to push to be diagnosed with it. You may also consider holistic medicine, which tends to give equal attention to the psychological and physiological components of health. There is no proven cure or medicine for this condition. However, there are many ways to combat the hypothesized underlying cause behind this heightened production of stress hormones. Below, we explore a couple of strategies for managing chronic stress in hopes of alleviating adrenal fatigue symptoms.


Ways to Treat Symptoms

The majority of treatments target your relationship with stress. All of these options are meant to help you find a sense of peace and relief. This is not an exhaustive list; it is merely a starting point. Please feel free to explore alternative stress reduction techniques.


If you find yourself preoccupied with thoughts about the chronic stress you’re facing, it may be helpful to explore journaling. Writing out your thoughts, feelings, and concerns can help prevent them from continuing on an endless loop in your mind. It may even help to journal before bed and then place the journal up on a nearby shelf as a physical reminder that you can revisit those thoughts later, but the current moment is about finding rest. 

Examine Your Diet

Emphasizing the nutritional benefits behind the food you’re consuming can help regulate your body’s production of stress hormones. It can be helpful to limit caffeine and sugar during this time, as those foods can interact with our fight or flight response in unhelpful ways. WebMD recommends increasing intake of certain vitamins, including Magnesium (found in spinach, black beans, and edamame), Vitamin C (found in most citrus fruits), and Vitamin B12 (found in eggs and lean meats)

Sleep Hygiene

Reevaluating your sleep hygiene may improve your adrenal fatigue symptoms. One sleep habit that you may choose to work on could include powering down electronics an hour before bed. Our electronics emit blue light, which can confuse our internal clock because it tricks our brains into thinking it is still time to be awake, even when it is actually the end of the day. 

You may be interested in setting up a nighttime routine. Ideally, this will be an experience that leaves you feeling relaxed. It may help to engage as many senses as possible (i.e. spray your pillow with a lavender mist before bed, wrap yourself up in the fluffiest blanket you own, enjoy a warm cup of chamomile tea before bed, listen to white noise, etc.). It may take a bit of time, but, eventually, this routine will become associated with sleep, helping you fall asleep faster.

Modify Your Exercise Routine

When dealing with adrenal fatigue, it may be beneficial to explore some of the impacts of exercise in your daily life. If you have a workout routine that leaves you feeling refreshed, stick with it! If not, the Women’s Health Network recommends starting slow. Low-impact activities, such as yoga or long walks, can be effective ways to get your body moving without adding to your current physical or emotional stress. In the long run, this will be healthier for you than overexerting yourself in a demanding exercise regime.



Therapy is a wonderful resource to help you navigate adrenal fatigue. Working with a professional to get at the underlying cause of your chronic stress will allow you to gain more knowledge and skills to combat those symptoms on a regular basis. Additionally, therapy can provide a wonderful outlet to let your feelings out with a safe, unbiased individual, leaving you more mental space to care for yourself outside of sessions.

Trust Mental Health is a therapy practice located in California. We are here to help you work through your experiences navigating chronic stress. Our therapists are trained in a variety of modalities–Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Talk Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT)–that all focus on treating high stress, anxiety, and depression. This allows you to find the treatment plan that will work best for your goals and needs. Our therapists speak over sixteen different languages, meaning they are prepared to work with you using the language that you are most comfortable speaking. Contact us for a free consultation today.