Hormonal fatigue is also referred to as adrenal fatigue. It’s a combination of physical, emotional, and mental symptoms stemming from dysfunction in the body’s hormonal system. Hormonal fatigue is rooted in chronic stress, poor sleep, and dietary problems. Symptoms range from low energy to insomnia, headaches, and weight gain or loss.
About Hormonal Fatigue
Hormonal fatigue is a relatively new diagnostic category in conventional medicine. But it’s something nearly every practitioner sees often. It’s a diagnosis of exclusion that usually follows other medical tests that come back normal. Hormonal fatigue is also called adrenal fatigue because the most common cause of hormonal problems is exhaustion or overwork of the adrenal glands, which sit atop the kidneys and produce hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine.
The Symptoms of Hormonal Fatigue
Dysfunction in the body’s hormonal system is a root cause of many symptoms and problems. These include:
Sleep disturbance is one of the first signs that something is wrong with the body’s hormonal system. Hormonal fatigue can cause trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep through the night, even when an individual has had an adequate supply of sleep. In some cases, hormones can wake individuals up at odd times during the night; this often leads to daytime sleepiness and fatigue.
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of hormonal fatigue. Many people with hormonal fatigue complain of being tired all the time. Other symptoms include a lack of energy, low motivation, and wakefulness in the early morning hours. A person with a long list of symptoms may use stimulants such as coffee or other caffeinated drinks to try to feel awake.
Although stress can be a motivating factor in life, it often causes exhaustion; this occurs because many people who are stressed out find it difficult to relax and sleep. Excessive amounts of stress hormones can leave individuals feeling constantly fatigued. Exhaustion also keeps them from being able to cope with the stress that is causing their exhaustion.
Depression and Anxiety
Low serotonin levels, the chemical in the brain that regulates mood and anxiety, often accompany hormonal fatigue in women, leading to increased symptoms of depression and anxiety. In addition, women with hormonal fatigue often have lower levels of DHEA, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that is a precursor to other hormones produced in the brain. Low DHEA levels may also be linked to depression and anxiety.
Weight gain and loss
Excessive cortisol production by the adrenal glands can cause weight gain by increasing insulin production, retention of water, and storing extra energy as fat. In addition, cortisol increases appetite and promotes overeating, which can lead to obesity.
High blood pressure and other symptoms of hypertension are often the results of overstimulation of the adrenal glands. The increased cortisol and adrenaline levels in the blood make it difficult for the heart to function efficiently.
Premature aging and skin problems
Hormonal imbalance can cause changes in metabolism, which means extra metabolic waste products are produced by cells that are not aging as rapidly as others; this may cause premature aging and skin problems, such as wrinkles and sagging skin.
What Should You Do If You Have Symptoms of Hormonal Fatigue?
The first step is to determine whether you have a hormonal imbalance. If you think you might have problems with your hormones, consult a practitioner trained in the evaluation and management of hormonal disorders with a variety of diagnostic tests, including:
Comprehensive Blood Test
A complete blood count (CBC) measures the levels of red and white blood cells for anemia and infection. The CBC also evaluates the size, number, and maturity of blood cells; this reveals clues about estrogen levels and overactive or underactive adrenal glands.
A hormone profile is a very specific test that measures levels of hormones in the blood for several days to check for any imbalances. It is also used to rule out other causes of hormonal changes. These include:
- Pregnancy and birth control pills (Nexplanon or Depo-Provera) can cause high progesterone and low estrogen levels, leading to symptoms such as fatigue and breast tenderness.
- A pituitary tumor, an insulinoma (a tumor of the pancreas), or too much growth hormone can lead to symptoms of low estrogen levels.
Hormonal fatigue is a difficult condition to live with. While it is fairly easy to diagnose, the symptoms may be vague and hard to pinpoint. Additionally, many people who experience hormonal fatigue receive conflicting advice on what to do about it. Some doctors tell their patients that hormones are not important and can’t be out of balance, while others recommend hormone replacement therapy as the only treatment option. The best approach is often a combination of natural therapies and lifestyle changes. In some cases, hormone replacement therapy may be appropriate for some individuals. If you have symptoms of hormonal imbalance contact us today at 205-352-9141 and we’ll be happy to assist you.