“Only in the darkness can you see the stars”. Martin Luther king
The main role of our adrenal glands is to allow us to cope with stress. Stress is experienced daily, in varying degrees and those who develop coping strategies are able to deal more effectively with stress, minimizing the effect on cortisol stores. Our fight or flight response is dictated by our adrenal glands, through the production of adrenaline and cortisol. Without sufficient production of these hormones or poor coping strategies, our response to stress and our ability to cope declines.
Emotional and mental stresses are important considerations of adrenal health. Physical trauma, chronic illnesses, and psychological trauma can cumulatively drain the adrenal reserves, particularly if there is limited recovery time between episodes of stress. Many Researchers have indicated that PTSD and depression depletes our adrenal reserves.
Over time and with age, our adrenal glands are unable to cope as well as they once did and as a result, cortisol production may decline. Common symptoms of adrenal dysfunction (and also Depression) may include:
Inability to cope with increased physical or emotional stress
Poor sleep patterns
Difficulty waking in the morning
Cravings for salt or salty foods
Drastic energy fluctuations
Reduced sex drive
Mood fluctuations such as depression and irritability
Blood pressure fluctuations, particularly low blood pressure
Lack of motivation and inability to perform daily tasks with ease
Reduced mental clarity and memory
Blood glucose fluctuations
Afternoon energy slumps
Desire to sleep after stressful events
Identify stressors and improve stress management
The holistic approach advocates identifying causes and trigger. It could be anything from chronic stress, financial burden, to relationship breakdown. It could also result from a reduced ability of the individual to simply adapt and cope with life’s stresses. Therefore, it is essential to implement stress management strategies including counselling, meditation, moderate exercise, mindfulness, yoga, healthy eating, and practicing gratitude. Stress management also includes;
Sleep enables the adrenal glands to rest and recharge. During the acute phases of adrenal dysfunction, it is essential to listen to our own bodies and sleep and nap as required. The more we push through our fatigue, the more trauma we place on our adrenal function.
Although energy levels are very much lower when adrenal function is poor, it is still crucial to keep up with moderate daily exercise, even just a walk every day can lift mood levels. Once you incorporate this into your life after 6 weeks or so it will become a habit.
Learning calming strategies and ways to optimistically and cognitively solve life’s challenges can increase your ability to cope. Counsellors can help clients to re frame their life goals and prevent that “overwhelmed feeling”. Depression can often follow trauma and life’s challenging situations. I see many clients in my Counselling practice who are depressed and anxious and have not been able to work for several years. They often describe their symptoms of fatigue, restless sleep, reduced clarity on decision making, and loss of joy in life.
My advice is to seek counselling early before your life is disrupted by a mental health condition. Everyone loses the ability to cope in some situations and at sometimes in their life-it is called being human.