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Chronic Stress & the Three Stages of Adrenal Fatigue 

by | Aug 18, 2017 | Hormone Imbalances, Mental Health

Stress is a natural and healthy reaction to everyday life problems. Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is healthy and necessary when released at appropriate times.

Stress factors such as mental/emotional stress, sleep cycle disturbances, blood sugar imbalances, and inflammation trigger the release of cortisol.  In appropriate doses, this is a healthy response, but when these factors compound for prolonged periods of time, cortisol is released too frequently and causes physical, mental and emotional symptoms.

Without a proper balance between cortisol and DHEA (the hormone that balances cortisol), cortisol becomes a burden on the body. Overtime, this can result in adrenal fatigue.  Chronic stress release of cortisol takes its toll on the body in three stages of adrenal fatigue: Hyper, Dominant, or Hypo.

Stages of Adrenal Fatigue

Stage 1: Hyper-Cortisol The first stage of adrenal fatigue is characterized as being in constant alarm.  At any point in the day, a person will feel stressed and wired, even outside of a stressful situation.  Other symptoms can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Low immunity
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness

Stage 2: Cortisol Dominant  The second stage of adrenal fatigue is characterized as being in total resistance.  An accumulation of mild stress without enough relaxation can cause constant stress and feeling tired.  Other symptoms can include:

  • Additional hormonal irregularities
  • Mood and sleep issues
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Frequent energy crashes
  • Blood sugar imbalances

Stage 3: Hypo-Cortisol  The third stage of adrenal fatigue is characterized as complete exhaustion.  At this stage, many people describe feeling ‘down and out.’  Very simple tasks may become difficult to complete.  Additional symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue and depression
  • Pain or severe inflammation
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Low immunity

Although stress will always be a constant part of life, living under mountains of chronic stress, anxiety and depression is not as helpless or hopeless as it feels.

If you have uncontrolled stress or suspect that you may have high/low cortisol levels, reach out to schedule a naturopathic appointment with Dr. Melanie.  A targeted plan will be developed for you with stress relief techniques such as yoga, meditation, individualized supplementation and diet.

Dr. Melanie Maclaren

Dr. Melanie MacLaren

Dr. Melanie MacLaren is a naturopathic doctor and registered yoga teacher who is passionate about natural health and the individualized needs of each of her clients.

Call 317-818-1800 to learn more about Dr. Melanie or request an appointment. 

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