Adrenal fatigue – symptoms, causes and other factors


Adrenal fatigue is a term which is used to describe someone to say that fatigue and other symptoms are caused by a poorly working adrenal gland in people who are under physical, emotional or mental stress. This is not a proven medical condition. We know that adrenal glands make hormones. They make cortisol which is a hormone that helps your body to deal with the stress [1]. In the medical world there is adrenal fatigue theory and according to it, if your life is too stressful, then your adrenal glands may not pump our enough hormones which is leading to many different symptoms. But there are no evidences which are supporting this theory.

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue

There are some supporters of adrenal fatigue who say that the symptoms of this condition are:

  • Trouble thinking clearly or finishing your tasks
  • Chronic tiredness, even after you wake up in the morning
  • Trouble getting out of bed

But also there are some doctors who say that these symptoms can be due to other health problems. Also these doctors are saying that these symptoms are very common in general. Often people blame their hormonal glands such as thyroid or adrenal gland for their tiredness, but in many cases the adrenal fatigue is due to common problems such as

  • Depression [2,3]
  • Stress at work or home [3]
  • Poor diet [4]
  • Poor sleep habits [4]

All of the mentioned problems can affect your energy levels without involving your adrenal glands. But fatigue, as we know, is a symptom of many other diseases such as heart failure, diabetes, arthritis and anemia. The adrenal glands sit atop the kidneys like caps. There are some conditions which can keep your adrenal glands from working well. One of these conditions is the Addison’s disease. In some cases this condition is referred as a primary adrenal insufficiency. When someone suffers from this condition, then his adrenal glands are not making enough hormones. This is a disease which doctors can recognize and test it. In the most cases of the Addison’s disease, our adrenal glands have been damaged by your immune system. You need to talk with your doctor about what is causing your adrenal fatigue. You need to tell him if you have tried some home remedies or medicines to improve you adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue

causes of adrenal fatigue

What causes the adrenal fatigue: This is a term which is applied to a collection of nonspecific symptoms such as digestive problems, sleep disturbances, nervousness, fatigue and body aches. This term is often used in alternative medicine websites and popular health books but in the medical diagnosis it is not accepted. We know that our adrenal glands are producing different hormones which are very important for our life. This medical term (adrenal insufficiency) is referring to inadequate production of one or more of these hormones as a result of some underlying disease. Here are the signs and symptoms of adrenal insufficiency [5]:

  • Skin discoloration (hyperpigmentation)
  • Loss of body hair
  • Lightheadedness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue

This condition can be diagnosed by blood tests and special stimulation tests which show inadequate levels of adrenal hormones. Proponents of the adrenal fatigue diagnose claim that this condition is a mild form of adrenal insufficiency which is caused by chronic stress. This theory of adrenal fatigue is not proven and it says that your adrenal glands are unable to keep pace with the demands of perpetual fight – or – flight arousal. As a result of it, they cannot produce enough hormones which will make us to feel good. According to this theory, the existing blood tests are not sensitive enough to detect such a small decline in your adrenal function but your body is. If it is very frustrating to have persistent symptoms that your doctor cannot readily explain. But when someone accepts a medically unrecognized diagnosis from an unqualified practitioner, then this could be worse. The unproven adrenal fatigue remedies for this condition can make you feel sicker while the real cause such as fibromyalgia or depression continues to take their part.


[1] Frontiers. Stressed? Take a 20-minute ‘nature pill’: Just 20 minutes of contact with nature will lower stress hormone levels, reveals new study. Science Daily. 2019. Retrieved from

[2] Werumeus BJ, Brummelman P, Koerts J, et al. Hydrocortisone dose influences pain, depressive symptoms and perceived health in adrenal insufficiency: A randomized controlled trial. Neuroendocrinology. 2016;103:771-8.

[3] Wilson JL. Clinical perspective on stress, cortisol and adrenal fatigue. Advances in Integrative Medicine. 2014;1(2):93-6.

[4] Alghadir AH, Gabr SA. Physical activity and environmental influences on adrenal fatigue of Saudi adults: biochemical analysis and questionnaire survey. Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 2015;27(7):2045–51.

[5] Neary N, Nieman L. Adrenal Insufficiency- etiology, diagnosis and treatment. Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity. 2010;17(3):217–23. doi: 10.1097/MED.0b013e328338f608



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