This article is part of the Health Conditions topic. Below are more articles in this topic.
Article by Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach
It can present itself as depression, aching and exhaustion, burn out, fibromyalgia, auto-immune deficiencies, low sex drive, insomnia, hair loss, and a host of other things that make life a struggle every day. Adrenal fatigue will ultimately compromise your immune system, which is your health. I remember first hearing about it nearly 20 years ago at a time when a series of external events had me running on fumes... which is a good way to put it.
Our adrenal glands manufacture cortisol and adrenalin, things I'm sure you're heard about, and associate, correctly, with the fight or flight response.
"I was running on adrenalin" you might say after giving a presentation, or simply on an ordinary day that began with a kid that wouldn't get dressed for school, running late on a jammed freeway, facing an angry boss ... You go into "overdrive," and stay there, and this makes you over-react to things and also causes more trouble for yourself as you elicit stressed reactions from others. In fact, I'm sure you know people who are "addicted to adrenalin," those hard-driving Type A personalities who are always flaming and have a big ring of sweat under their arms. Or the new Type D, the ones who've gone through it to the other side, and are cynical, bitter and depressed. Depression, after all, has been called "anger without enthusiasm."
It's your body moving into basic survival mode, which it does in a split second. Your heart rate and blood pressure increase, your body goes after stored energy resources, pumps out chemicals, and makes you very, very "alert."
All well and good if there's a gun at your head, but when it's chronic, it's monstrously hard on your body, and takes its toll. How so?
Well, as we learn in studying emotional intelligence, our reptilian brain - the one with the basic instincts for survival has the strongest impact on us, and it doesn't really think. It's not good at rating "crises" on a scale of 1-10. It also confuses a thought or memory with "now". You can raise your blood pressure telling an old war story, or listening to someone else's, right? Furthermore, and this is why EQ is so important, we all have different "set points." Some of us are more innately reactive to stressors than others. You know if you have kids - with one you might have to raise your voice and really make your point. With the other, just a look will do. Our lives are full of stressors. Then we eat poorly, the best of our food isn't that nutritious any more, and we get hooked on the temporary "highs" of carbs and caffeine. So there you are - under-nourished, over-worked, bombarded with environmental toxins, unable to manage your emotions which take an added toll on your immune system, and locked into a nasty feedback loop.
You get stressed, you react and do all the things that make it worse, you pump out more cortisol, which if kept at high levels destroys muscle and bone, slows down healing, impairs digestion, over-rides other important functions and biochemicals you could use for your health, impairs your thinking, and eventually the exhausted adrenals fail to produce sufficient DHEA and brings on a host of side-effects such as those listed above. It may also be a contributing factor to such things as chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, and premature menopause. And depression, if you've wondered why everyone's on Prozac these days.
What I started doing was studying nutrition, researching high-quality nutritional supplements (essential fatty acids from fish oil seem to be key as well as a general immune booster such as Arbonne's DefenseBuilder), limiting toxins (did you know what you put on your skin is absorbed into your bloodstream and you might take a look at those drugstore cosmetics you apply so lavishly) and studying emotional intelligence. Eventually I went on to become a coach in these areas. After all, if you can control the emotional reaction that triggers the cortisol, well, there you have it, though you will have to attend to the damage already done, thus the nutriceuticals. Sleep and non-addictive exercise too, but most people with adrenal fatigue don't sleep well. Many of the tenets of Emotional Intelligence are similar to those used by Buddhist monks, and we know what they've been able to achieve in terms of changing brain waves, etc. Their goal is to avoid suffering, and that's a good description of adrenal fatigue: suffering. According to Marcy Holmes, Women's Health NP who writes for womentowomen says: "It's important to emphasize the role of emotional factors. Guilt, pain from the past hurts, self-destructive habits, unresolved relationship problems - your past and present emotional experience may serve as an ever-present stressor." This is the typical medical model of pathology, which includes traditional therapy, talking, and going back in the past. Coaching and Emotional Intelligence are dealing with the now and the future, and simple, effective things you can learn that work. A certain percentage of people do need the dredging work of therapy but many more just need to know how to get a new emotional lifestyle, and that's what EQ is all about. For instance we know that talking about anger is not a solution; it generates more anger. It's learning how to deal with the anger in the first place (because anger kills) and that's EQ. Our emotions effect our immune system, and our immune system if our health. If you have serious health problems, of course, consult your personal healthcare professional who is the only person from whom you should get medical advice.