How Adrenal Fatigue Affects Our Hormones, Our Minds, Our Bodies, and Our Spirits
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. ~ C. S. Lewis
Peace of mind is the basis of a healthy body and a healthy mind; so peace of mind, a calm mind, is very, very important. ~ Dalai Lama
I have been working with Dr. Yvonne Maywether, M.D., an Age Management/Functional Medicine Physician over the past couple of years due to adrenal fatigue. As I have been undergoing treatment, I learned much about adrenal fatigue and the effects. This article explains my new found knowledge via research, dialogue with my doctor, and my education and experience as a psychotherapist.
Consistent high levels of stress cause adrenal fatigue. Elevated stress induces the fight-flight-freeze response. The involuntary response boosts the hormone cortisol from the adrenal glands. Over time too much of the stress hormone, cortisol short-circuits the cells in the hippocampus. Consequently fragmented or unorganized memories of the trauma or stressful event result.
The sympathetic nervous system shifts into overdrive causing an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and hyperventilation of the lungs. The body beings to perspire and goose bumps appear from nerve endings on the skin. The body focuses with superb alertness as the senses drink in details of the environment and potential threats.
Adrenaline rushes to muscles preparing them to fight or flee. Finally, as the impending danger is the primary focus of the brain, pleasure principles such as digestion shut down.
The repercussions of adrenal fatigue may cause hormonal imbalances, which most likely generate symptoms of:
- brain fog
- difficulties in retaining information (impaired memory)
- bone and muscle loss
- digestion complications
- weight gain or belly fat
- and trouble sleeping.
Consequently, unhealthy habits to alleviate stress may develop such as:
- substance abuse
- over-consumption of food
- binge eating
- and aggressive behavior.
The roles of the hormones testosterone and estrogen play a large role in mental, sexual, and bodily health in all genders.
Testosterone comes in two forms – total testosterone and free testosterone. Normal levels of total testosterone for men depending on age range from 300 – 1200 ng/dL. The standard range for women is 25 – 75 ng/dL.
Free testosterone is the amount of the hormone that is active in the body. Even though total testosterone may fall within the normal range which is quite a large scope, the levels of free testosterone is a better indicator of optimal wellbeing.
As an age management doctor, Dr. Maywether aims for our prime of life, which typical is between 25 and 35 years of age. The goal is to reach the upper one-third of the ranges for that age group. According to Mayo Medical Laboratories, free testosterone should fall between 5.25 -20.7ng/dL for males and 0.06 – 1.08ng/dL for females.
An optimal level of testosterone:
- Decreases risk for vascular disease, certain cancers, diabetes, obesity, metabolic rate, and muscle and bone density
- Keeps inflammation down
- Increases libido and an erection
- Ensures better-quality orgasms
- Possibly improves life expectancy and longevity
Individuals synthesize testosterone differently. Higher doses of testosterone cause the androgen and sex steroid dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is the hormone that causes many males and some females to experience typical pattern baldness and body hair overgrowth.
Saw Palmetto is an over-the-counter natural supplement that will block DHT thus restricting the effects of unwanted hair loss and hair growth. Since DHT has a longer half-life (remaining in the body up to double the amount of time as testosterone) and the primary androgen in hair follicles and the prostate, it’s important to monitor DHT levels to prevent undesired side effects.
Estrogen is biologically active in all genders as estrone, estradiol, and estriol. Typical ranges for males 18 and older range from 10 – 40pg/mL and premenopausal females from 15 – 350pg/mL according to Mayo Medical Laboratories.
An optimal level of estrogen:
- Decreases risk for cancer
- Improves bone metabolism and remodeling
- Lubricates mucous membranes such as the lips and vaginal region
- Makes the skin soft and supple
- Improves the cardiovascular system and cognitive functioning
- Reduces the risk of dementia
- Measurement of reproductive health
Similar to testosterone the body metabolizes estrogen differently. The testes and ovaries primarily produce estradiol. The adrenal glands and fat tissue produce small amounts of the hormone.
Make sure to consult with your doctor and get a complete medical lab review before undergoing any hormone replacement therapy. Note caution that traditional doctors will aim for lab results according to your age. Unlike age management/functional physician who will obtain lab results according to your optimal health age between mid 20’s to early 30’s.
Understanding our health and how it affects our mind, body, and spirit is essential for self-awareness and taking control of what is possible. I am fortunate to have found a supportive doctor who was able to prescribe the remedy of various supplements, vitamins, minerals, and hormone replacement therapy that lowered my cortisol levels. Consequently, I am less stressful, reactive, and feel more at peace.
Our health is part genetic, part environment, and part lifestyle. My intention is to encourage optimal health at any age and take the steps necessary to ensure you are living your most healthy self. You’re worth it.
To schedule a free 15-minute phone consult for individual therapy, couples counseling, or sex therapy, please contact me at 424.258.5416 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Maywether, please contact her at 424.247.4753 or email@example.com.
Optimum health is an ongoing process that requires awareness, knowledge, and practice. ~ Dr. Andrew Weil
Optimal health is a journey taken one step, one habit, and one day at a time. ~ Dr. Wayne S. Anderson