Difficulty sleeping, an anxious or racing mind, intense irritability, scattered thinking, weight gain… these are a few of the symptoms that drive women every day to call us looking for relief. And most of those callers are 100% sure these common symptoms are caused by menopause.
Though it’s much less recognized, the truth is, adrenal imbalance is often at the root of these distressing symptoms. It develops over time in response to chronic stress — even among women who insist, “But I’m handling all my stress!”
Adrenal fatigue is intertwined with other hormonal imbalances. Of course, all hormones are connected to and affect one another. But many experts call cortisol a “major” hormone, meaning that when it’s unbalanced, it’s more difficult for your body to balance other hormonal functions. As a result, the effects of stress may show up in ways you don’t even realize.
We often guide women who are experiencing symptoms of both adrenal fatigue and hormonal imbalance to take care of their adrenal problems first. Then their other hormonal imbalance problems can be resolved more easily.
Stages of adrenal imbalance: which one are you?
Most women suffering from adrenal imbalance can recognize themselves in one of three stages — “wired,” “tired and wired” or “tired.” As adrenal imbalance worsens, women typically move through these stages until they reach total exhaustion.
It’s important to figure out which stage you are in because that determines what changes you have to make to support your adrenals and restore their healthy function.
Are you “wired”?
Your body is creating and responding to a constant flow of stress hormones so you’re always in active mode, and feel “ready to go.” You may be periodically overwhelmed by fatigue, but sleeping feels like a waste of time because you have so much to do.
Common symptoms for “wired” women
Being “wired” is the first stage of adrenal imbalance. Many women who are “wired” are so used to doing it all every day that they don’t realize their bodies are sending out warning signals like these symptoms:
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Feeling driven or “speedy” all day
- High anxiety, panic attacks
- Racing thoughts, scattered thinking, inability to focus on one task for very long
- Difficulties with PMS, menstrual periods, perimenopause or menopause
- Low libido
- Thyroid issues
- Anger, frustration, depression
- Abdominal weight gain
- High caloric intake in the evening
Are you “tired and wired”?
Your adrenals aren’t regulating their hormones well. They don’t produce enough cortisol in the morning, but they produce too much near the end of the day when you should be winding down. You can’t get up in the morning — but you can’t sleep at night.
Common symptoms for “tired and wired” women
Generally, women who fit the “tired and wired” profile experience many of the same symptoms as the “wired” woman, along with additional symptoms that almost seem to contradict the first set. That’s because the adrenal glands are beginning to under-produce stress hormones. These symptoms include:
- Difficulty waking up in the morning
- Exhaustion throughout the day
- Reliance on caffeine
- Waking during nighttime with heart-racing anxiety
- Weight gain
- Low libido
- Thyroid issues
- Digestive difficulties
- Anger, frustration or depression
- Thinning hair
- Low blood pressure, dizziness
- Cravings for salt
- Weakened immune system
Are you “tired”?
Your adrenal glands have been pumping out extra cortisol for so long that they’ve become exhausted. They can’t produce stress hormones in the quantities you need to feel energized, or even alert. As a result, you feel completely fatigued from morning to night.
Common symptoms for “tired” women
We use “tired” to describe the final stage of adrenal imbalance — complete exhaustion. “Tired” includes the following symptoms:
- Tired even after a night’s sleep
- Complete lack of energy
- Intense cravings for salty foods, sugary foods, or refined carbohydrates
- Caffeine dependence
- Unexplained weight gain that is particularly challenging to shed
- Insulin resistance
- Poor response to stress, including feeling overwhelmed by relatively minor challenges
- Mild depression
- Mental fogginess/fuzzy thinking
- Low libido
In addition to causing these symptoms, adrenal imbalance may also be a factor in fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, depression and other serious conditions.
How many symptoms are you suffering?
Many women today are so committed to being productive that they may not recognize the signs of stress and adrenal fatigue. We hold ourselves responsible for the lives of so many people, continually reassuring everyone around us that “everything is all right.” Each of these qualities can mask the negative impact of stress we’re experiencing. As a result, the effects of stress build until they surface as seemingly unconnected health problems.
Taking our Adrenal Health Profile is the first step toward a true understanding of the stress your body is experiencing right now. It will help you discover the most effective ways to support your adrenals. You’ll instantly receive information about your individual symptoms, as well as ideas and tips to reduce stress and the life-changing symptoms it can cause.