If you read my last article, you may have noticed I mentioned that many Empaths tend to be prone to suffering adrenal fatigue, caused by amygdala activation.
The term adrenal fatigue has been used to explain a group of symptoms that are said to occur in people who are under long-term mental, emotional, or physical stress.
In case you’re wondering, the adrenals are small organs located above the kidneys that produce stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. The theory is when someone suffers long-term stresses, the body prioritises the production of stress hormones, which then stops or hinders the production of other important hormones (such as progesterone) that are produced by the adrenals. This then has a knock-on effect throughout the body and the hormones produced.
So, what are the symptoms of adrenal fatigue? Let’s take a look:
MAIN SYMPTOMS OF ADRENAL FATIGUE
- RESISTANCE TO GETTING UP IN THE MORNING: You wake up and feel like you need another ten hours sleep.
- CAFFEINE DEPENDENCE: You can’t get going without your morning cuppa.
- FATIGUE ALL DAY LONG: This tiredness doesn’t go away even after rest or sleep.
- INCAPABLE OF DEALING WITH ANY TYPE OF STRESS: This can even include the stress caused by being around other people.
- EXCESSIVE NEED FOR SALT: This is because your electrolytes often run low when you are overly stressed.
- EVENING ENERGY BURSTS: At bedtime you find your mind switches on and won’t switch off.
- SUFFERING AUTOIMMUNE CONDITIONS & A COMPROMISED IMMUNE SYSTEM: Your immune system weakens with stress. This then has a knock-on effect in which, for example, experiencing a viral infection, such as a cold, can trigger a whole host of other health issues or even autoimmune conditions to start. (Think long covid). The saying ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back,’ is very apt here.
Ok, so those are the most common symptoms, but that’s not all. There’s more. Here are other symptoms that also have been reported by those suffering adrenal fatigue.
LESS COMMON SYMPTOMS
- Asthma, allergies or respiratory complaints
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Dry skin
- Extreme tiredness an hour after exercise
- Frequent urination
- Joint pain
- Lines in your fingertips
- Loss of muscle tone
- Low blood pressure
- Low blood sugar
- Low sex drive
- Lower back pain
- Numbness in your fingers / Poor circulation
- Weight gain
WHAT CAME FIRST?
Over the years, more and more Empaths are coming to discover that many of the symptoms they experience are actually caused by repeatedly suffering with stress and heightened negative emotions. Which then might lead to adrenal fatigue or other complications.
The question we have to ask then is: Did being an Empath cause excessive stress or did certain life stresses cause Empath traits to heighten?
It’s a thinker, but you normally find it is a combination of both.
If, for example, you remember a time or times where you had a traumatic experience, the chances are this will have contributed to Empath traits and sensitivities becoming more heightened, especially if you suppressed your emotions.
Suppressed emotions can be a catalyst for cortisol spikes, hormone imbalances and a heightened sensitivity to negative emotions.
As a whole, Sensitive people, like Empaths, tend to be more prone to stress-related ailments than most. Which also means we have to work much harder than most to find equilibrium.
One thing I know for sure is Empath stress, such as being around overly negative people, or busy peopled places can produce extra cortisol and adrenaline that your body does not need.
If you are sensitive to negative emotions (or any type of stress) and then spend time around those who trigger them, either through picking up their pained emotions or simply their negativity, it will indeed make you more prone to suffering adrenal fatigue.
That said, stress is not always the initial trigger of adrenal fatigue. Hormones can become unbalanced from vaccinations or medications taken in childhood (Just like medications can come with side effects, so can vaccinations). It could also be triggered by regularly consuming a food that does not work in your body, or from having nutrient deficiencies.
As I’ve said many times before, as Empaths we are all different. We may experience similar ailments and issues, but they could have been caused by several different things.
Regardless of what the trigger, there are ways to heal from adrenal fatigue. Although there are many things you can do to help lower your stress levels (see the video below), I will cover some of the things you can do that may make the biggest difference.
WAYS TO HEAL
1. CHECK YOUR NUTRIENTS ESPECIALLY B VITAMINS AND MAGNESIUM:
Vitamins and mineral deficiencies can make such a difference to the way an Empath experiences stress. Deficiencies can lead to erratic emotions, hormonal issues, depression and even mental health conditions. Vitamin imbalances can also make you incapable of handling any type of stress.
It is a great idea to get yourself tested for your vitamin and mineral levels. I know that tests can be expensive, but so can buying vitamins you may not need.
It can be incredibly difficult to self-diagnose individual vitamin deficiencies as the symptoms are so similar from one nutrient deficit to the next.
That said, a good way to spot the vitamin and mineral deficiencies you may have is by checking the nutrient profiles of the food you eat most, towards the foods you don’t eat, and see what is lacking. For example, if you don’t eat grains or gluten, the chances are you will be low in the B vitamins, especially B1.
Also, if you drink caffeine or alcohol, they are known to leech nutrients, such as magnesium and the B vitamins, from the body.
Nutrients tend to work together, and when there is a shortage of one it could mean another nutrient can’t do its job properly.
Obviously, this is a huge topic that goes beyond the scope of this post, but if you suspect that you may have adrenal fatigue, it is definitely worth doing some further research.
This post offers more information on the benefits of nutrients for an Empath.
2. CHANGE OF DIET:
Avoiding all sugar and sugar-forming foods, such as grains and processed foods, helps reduce stress hormone spikes and thus adrenal fatigue.
When you are a sensitive person, with constantly heightened emotions, you are more prone to having stress hormone spikes. You don’t want to be adding to that by consuming foods that will make them worse.
See my book, The Eating Plan for Empaths, in which I discuss how certain foods heighten Empath stresses, and how by eating them any type of stress becomes much more difficult to endure.
3. AVOID STRESS:
This is so important for an Empath, whether they suffer adrenal fatigue or not. Stress causes cortisol spikes.
Avoiding all stress in life is impossible, and some types of bodily stress, such as exercise, can actually be beneficial. However, there are stresses that are unnecessary and avoidable, such as spending social time around overly negative people, or indulging in online media stress.
The mind can also be a major contributor for the production of an excess of stress hormones, especially by overthinking. Choose wisely where you allow your attention to go or perhaps train your mind to stop overacting. See this post.
4. DO THERAPEUTIC EXERCISE:
If you are suffering adrenal fatigue the last thing you will probably have is energy for exercise. Yet certain exercises can work wonders for reducing excessive cortisol production, whilst increasing feel good hormones that give you an uplift in mood as well as raising your overall energy levels.
One form of exercise I find beneficial for producing the feel-good hormones is short periods of high intensity exercise. For example, high intensity Tabata workouts that last 4 minutes. Yes, only 4 minutes and you’re done. You can find lots of videos on YouTube for mini Tabata workouts. Here’s a link to one.
Yoga is another therapeutic exercise, as is walking in nature. I have articles on them here and here.
Recognising adrenal fatigue is halfway to overcoming it.
You may find this video from Dr Berg interesting. Although the video doesn’t mention adrenal fatigue in the title, it applies to the condition.
The following article is what I have referenced for adrenal fatigue symptoms. It is not written with an Empath in mind but it is definitely worth a look: 7 Common Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms (And How To Treat Them!) (adrenalfatiguesolution.com)
If you have found ways to overcome adrenal fatigue, please feel free to share below.