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Signs and Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue


November 19, 2014 | Published by

tired man on bus by Flickr user Zaytsev Artem

Everyone’s experience with adrenal fatigue is different, including how they got to that state in the first place. There are shared signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue, which many sufferers experience. Below are some of the more common symptoms; do these sound like you or people you know?

Continued fatigue not relieved by sleep or rest
Despite getting adequate sleep, do you still wake up feeling tired and groggy? Refreshed is often a foreign word for people experiencing adrenal fatigue.

Strong cravings for salt or salty foods
Do you feel like you just can’t get enough salt? Do you often crave salty foods and snacks, or add salt to already salty foods? (You can learn more about the association between salt and adrenal function in this blog.)

Overall lack of energy
For people with adrenal fatigue, most things feel like a chore–even simple tasks and things they used to enjoy. Everyday tasks seem to take ten times the effort than usual. For some, simply getting out of bed or off a chair is a major challenge.

Decreased sex drive
Sex is one of the last things on your mind when you barely have the energy to keep your head up. Stress itself can interfere with sex drive. Cognitive distraction (thinking or worrying about problems) interferes with sexual functioning. So if you are ruminating about multiple stressors, it will be difficult to put your full attention on either your partner or your own sensations and responses.

Decreased ability to handle stress
Do little things that never bothered you before now pose a problem? Road rage, constant anxiety and compulsive behaviors (like binge eating, smoking and heavy drinking) can be signs of a weakened stress response, and possibly adrenal fatigue.

Increase in time to recover from illness, injury or trauma
The cold you got in September seems to be hanging around for months; a simple cut on your finger takes weeks to heal; two years after the loss of a loved one you are still incapacitated by grief. High stress and/or adrenal fatigue can lead to a weakened immune system.

Decreased joy and happiness
You find it hard to see the joy, even in activities you love. Things that typically excite you now elicit a “meh” response. You almost never do something just for fun. It’s become harder to laugh and enjoy yourself, as well as the company of others.

Increase in PMS difficulties
An increase in bloating, fatigue, cramping, irritability and other not-so-savory effects of PMS can be experienced with adrenal fatigue.

Reliance on caffeine and sweets to keep going
Do you feel like you need caffeine just to get through the day? Do you find yourself going for sugary snacks to get that short-lived spike in energy? The downside to this, other than the empty calories and lack of proper nutrition, is the effect caffeine and sugar have on already weakened adrenals. Moreover, this reliance creates a vicious cycle; the crash after the short-lived spike leaves you even more tired and ‘needing’ more.

Weakened mental capacity
You frequently lose your train of thought and find it harder to maintain focus. Decisions, even the small ones, have become more difficult to make. Moreover, you find your memory failing you, and may experience a ‘mid fog’ that puts you in a mental haze. You may also find that tasks take longer than usual, and it’s harder to stay on track.

Image Credit: Flickr user Zaytsev Artem

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  • Gustavo says:


    I’ve just started using the Dr Wilson’s product pack for adrenal fatigue treatment. I have been reading that not everyone reacts well to the herbal adrenal support formula, and I am wondering how do I know if it is working for me or not? I do not have any allergies, and I believe I am sitting right now on a stage 3 AF. Please let me know how I can measure if this formula works or not for me. Many thanks!

    • Hi Gustavo,

      Some people react differently to herbs, mostly due to allergies or sensitivities. Licorice itself can be an issue for those with high blood pressure or high cortisol, which is why Dr. Wilson made a licorice-free alternative, Herbal HPA. Overall, the best way to know it’s working for you is to try it in a small amount. Try taking 5 drops in a small glass of water with no other supplements. If you don’t experience any adverse reactions, you should be good to go. Hope this helps–let us know if you have any further questions!

  • Elizabeth says:

    What is the best way to diagnose adrenal fatigue? I have been to countless doctors who have all done blood panel after blood panel to only keep telling me everything looks within range. No one has actually done an adrenal test to see if my adrenals are functioning. What do you suggest is the best way to figure out what is going on. The fatigue is unbearable, I have nystagmus in my eyes and the fatigue is so bad it causes the tremors to get worse. I have an consistent weight gain over the past 7 months despite the fact that I workout every day. I am at a loss on how best to figure out what is going on.
    Thank you

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      Saliva cortisol tests are a good way to gauge adrenal hormone levels throughout the day. Blood cortisol tests measure one instance, and many practitioners are only looking to see if you’re in the range of Addison’s or Cushing’s. If you would like more information on saliva cortisol testing, we suggest looking at ZRT Lab’s website. Here’s a link:
      They also have a database of practitioners you can search, if you’d like help with testing and results. Hope this helps!

  • Jo anne says:

    Once we get the results…what do we do with them? I’ve had mine tested several times…all not good. I’m in AZ…I’ve paid “experts” a lot of money to help but I’m still fat, fatigued and frazzled.

    • Brandon Derrow says:

      Hi Jo Anne,

      You may be able to get an idea from the test results, but a practitioner versed in adrenal fatigue should be able to put together a recovery plan customized for you. Where in Arizona are you? We are in Tucson and work with practitioners statewide.

  • Babette Nixon says:

    Is it common for people with Adrenal Fatigue to get chills followed with mild shakes. I’ve noticed my legs start getting the chills then my legs begin to shake. It last 20-30 minutes. I bundle up with a blanket and space heater on medium. Thank you.

    • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:

      Hi Babette,

      That symptom would not be common, but not unheard of either. The symptoms you described could be more in line with a thyroid issue. Have you had any thyroid testing done?

  • Sherri HelterbrAn says:

    Is it possible that internal tremors are a symptom of adrenal fatigue? Mine started following a month is sustained high stress and major life events. I have felt like my entire body/brain went “off” and won’t reset. Along with the tremors symptoms listed here, anxiety, cold all the time (I never get cold and am usually just the opposite), sleep issues.

    • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:

      Hi Sherri,

      Internal tremors is not a symptom typically tied to adrenal fatigue. It can be a symptom of other more serious conditions, so we suggest checking with your healthcare practitioner as soon as possible to be sure.

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