a woman who relies on caffeine to stay alert may develop adrenal fatigue

Adrenal fatigue and adrenal stress cause a long list of symptoms because they are intertwined with other hormonal imbalances. Insomnia, anxiety, intense irritability, fuzzy thinking and weight gain are some of the common adrenal fatigue symptoms that drive women to find effective relief. They’re tired, tense, stressed out, and may suspect that their symptoms are caused by menopause.

But so often, adrenal stress is at the root of their difficult symptoms, even when they are on the cusp of menopause. Adrenal fatigue develops over time in response to chronic stress that produces symptoms the longer it goes on. With adrenal fatigue, even if you think you’re handling stress well, your body is telling you a different story.

While all hormones are connected to and affect one another, many experts call the stress hormone cortisol a “major” hormone. As cortisol becomes imbalanced, your body struggles to keep other hormonal functions in balance.

This adrenal connection to other hormones helps explain how the effects of stress show up in such a variety of unpleasant ways. Taking care of your adrenal problems first makes it easier to resolve other hormonal imbalance problems — like menopause symptoms.

Types of adrenal fatigue

Most women suffering from adrenal fatigue have imbalances related to their stress hormones. Their symptom sets usually fall into one of three categories that can worsen along a spectrum of fatigue: “wired,” “tired and wired,” or “tired.” As adrenal imbalances worsen, women may move through these stages until they reach the point of near exhaustion.

Knowing your type of adrenal fatigue determines how you will find relief and restore healthy adrenal function.

Common symptoms for “wired” women


Your body is creating and responding to a constant flow of stress hormones such that 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.

Being “wired” is the first type of adrenal imbalance. Many “wired” women don’t realize that their bodies are sending out warning signals in symptoms like these:

  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, anxiety at night
  • Feeling driven or “speedy” all day
  • Anxiety, panic attacks
  • Racing thoughts, scattered thinking, inability to focus on one task
  • PMS, difficult menstrual periods, hormonal shifts of perimenopause or menopause
  • Fluid retention
  • Low libido
  • Thyroid issues
  • Anger
  • Depressed feelings
  • Abdominal weight gain
  • Craving and eating a lot of calories at night
  • Frequent colds or infections due to a suppressed immune system
  • High blood pressure

Common symptoms for “tired and wired” women

“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 well at night either.

Generally, women who are “tired and wired” experience different versions of “wired” symptoms, along with other symptoms that seem to contradict the first set. That’s because their adrenal glands are under-producing important stress hormones. These symptoms include:

  • Trouble waking up in the morning
  • Exhaustion throughout the day
  • Reliance on caffeine to keep going during the day
  • Waking during the night with heart-racing anxiety
  • Weight gain
  • Low libido
  • Thyroid issues
  • Digestive difficulties
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Thinning hair
  • Low blood pressure, dizziness
  • Cravings for salt and sugar
  • Weakened immune system

Common symptoms for “tired” women


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.

We use “tired” to describe the final type of adrenal imbalance — complete exhaustion. “Tired” includes the following symptoms:

  • Tired even after a night’s sleep
  • Complete lack of energy
  • Feeling high-strung and jumpy despite fatigue
  • Intense cravings for salty foods, sugary foods, or refined carbohydrates
  • Allergic sensitivities, inflammation
  • Caffeine dependence
  • Exhaustion and shakiness after skipping a meal
  • Unexplained weight gain that seems impossible to shed
  • Feeling overwhelmed by relatively minor challenges
  • Mild depression
  • Fuzzy thinking/forgetfulness
  • Low libido

In addition to causing these symptoms, advancing adrenal imbalance may also be a factor in fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, depression and other serious conditions.

How many symptoms are you experiencing?

a woman with adrenal imbalance may have many difficult symptoms

If you’re feeling pressured and stressed about getting everything done every day, you could be a prime candidate for developing adrenal fatigue and stress. Many women feel they must be productive 7 days a week from dawn to dusk and may not recognize the signs of stress and adrenal fatigue.

We take care of so many people even as we’re responsible for balancing the needs of our own work, home and family. The negative impact of stress we experience can build until it bursts out in miserable symptoms, crushing fatigue and health problems.

If you suspect adrenal stress and fatigue are behind your symptoms, take our Adrenal Stress and Fatigue Quiz to understand the stress your body is experiencing right now. It’s the first step to feeling better, and more like yourself. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?