30 Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

Edit: There are now over 50 symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue that you can have for free. There is also a free report for what you can do to help heal the issue. Click on the Adrenal Fatigue book to the left and get your symptoms today.

Do you feel tired all the time? Maybe you get plenty of sleep and just don’t feel rested. Or maybe you have trouble sleeping. Low energy? Difficulty thinking or focusing? These are all symptoms of adrenal fatigue. This article explores the adrenals and the causes of adrenal fatigue. Included is a simplified explanation of how diet affects the adrenals and some suggestions for what you can do to restore them, and you to health.

The 30 symptoms include, but are not limited to:
1. Excessive fatigue and exhaustion, chronic fatigue
2. Non-refreshing sleep
3. Sleep disturbance, insomnia
4. Feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope
5. Craving salty and/or sweet foods
6. Sensitivity to light
7. Low stamina and slow to recover from exercise
8. Slow to recover from injury or illness
9. Difficulty concentrating, brain fog
10. Poor digestion
11. Irritable bowel syndrome, IBS
12. Low immune function
13. Premenstrual syndrome
14. Menopause symptoms
15. Low blood pressure
16. Sensitivity to cold
17. Fearfulness
18. Allergies,
19. Frequent influenza
20. Arthritis
21. Anxiety
22. Irritability
23. Depression
24. Reduced memory
25. Low libido, sexual drive or interest
26. Lack of lust for life and/or food
27. Excess hunger
28. Low appetite
29. Panic/anxiety attacks
30. Irritability, impatience, quick to anger.
If quick to anger, the person will often tend to back down quickly if confronted.

Many of these symptoms have other causes, so just because you have one or more symptom doesn’t necessarily mean that you have adrenal fatigue. On the other hand, adrenal fatigue is so prevalent that if you have even one of these symptoms, it is likely that your are at least a bit run down.

Almost every client I have ever seen has come to me because of one or more of these symptoms. Stress is a major contributor to adrenal fatigue. We live in a busy world that offers little relief from stresses of life. Toxicity contributes to adrenal fatigue as well. But by far, adrenal fatigue is caused by a diet high in sugar and processed foods. And, the same dietary factors that contribute to adrenal fatigue are at the root of most of our major health issues today. Most major diseases start with the same factors as adrenal fatigue, and adrenal fatigue can lead to many serious conditions.

What are the adrenals?
The adrenals are two walnut sized glands that sit on top of the kidneys. They produce three different classes of hormones at the rate of about a quart (liter) a day. One class is stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol also called hydrocortisone. Another class of adrenal hormones affect mineral metabolism especially the sodium/potassium balance. And, they produce sex hormones and their precursors. These hormones are some of the ones that make us feel good. They give us energy and a lust for life — and sex.

A simple test for adrenal fatigue
There are many tests for adrenal fatigue. Lab tests are expensive and take time for the results. However, there is a simple self-test that can be done with a flashlight and a mirror. Start in a darkened room so that your pupils dilate but have it light enough so that you can see your eyes in a mirror. Allow enough time in the dim room so that the pupils dilate fully, about ten minutes. Next, shine the flashlight into one of your eyes from the side so that the light causes the pupil to shrink down to a pin point. Do this in such a way that you can still watch the pupil as it reduces in size. If your adrenals are strong, the pupil will most likely shrink down immediately. If there is any hesitation before they react, then your adrenals are probably fatigued. I use the qualifier probably here because there are other reasons eyes may not react like this though they are not common.

Dietary causes of adrenal fatigue
As mentioned earlier, sugar and refined carbohydrates are the main cause of adrenal fatigue. Sugar includes honey, maple syrup, fructose, dried fruit, fruit juice and just about anything that is sweet. Refined carbohydrates are grains that have been ground up or have had the bran removed. This include products like bread even whole wheat bread, noodles, corn chips, white rice and pretty much anything that comes in a package. Refined foods are broken down by grinding and concentration. Refined grains have more surface area exposed to digestion, so they digest more quickly. They release their sugars quickly into the blood stream causing blood sugar to go up too high too fast.

The body responds to high blood sugar by releasing insulin. Insulin is a hormone that causes sugar to move into the liver, muscles and fat tissues. The problem is that the body evolutionarily isn’t designed to deal with the large amounts of sugar in the blood that are caused by sugar and refined foods. Evolution has designed us to eat animal protein, whole grains (not chopped up), vegetables and fruits. So, the body tends to overreact to this fast sugar by releasing too much insulin. This article is about the adrenals, but high blood sugar, high levels of insulin and constant exposure to stress hormones cause their own problems that will be covered in the future.

The release of too much insulin causes the blood sugar to go down too far. Most everyone has experienced getting sleepy after a large meal of pasta, rice or some other carbohydrate. Or, the drop in energy that follows a candy high. That’s what happens after the large release of insulin. The blood sugar goes down too far. The brain eats mostly sugar, so it gets sleepy from lack.

Now we get into the adrenal involvement. One of the stress hormones they release is cortisol. In ancient times stress meant that we had to fight or run away, the fight/flight response. The muscles that move quickly use sugar, and cortisol causes blood sugar to increase. There is also a cortisol release anytime there is low blood sugar. You know how you can be really hungry, then after awhile you aren’t so hungry anymore? That’s cortisol doing it’s job. The same thing happens when low blood sugar happens because of an over-release of insulin.

The adrenals are constantly being assailed by the above reactions. Processed foods and snacks are available all the time, and they are hard to resist. Our ancestors survived because they had a sweet tooth. They craved the sweet fruits that were available at the end of winter. Insulin caused that extra sugar to be stored as fat for the lean times of winter. The ones that didn’t desire sweet fruits didn’t survive, so we inherited that craving for sweets and other foods that turn into sugar. The problem is that we eat as though it is the end of summer all the time!

The adrenals are constantly being called on to produce more and more cortisol in response to the stress caused by sugar and processed food. Eventually they become exhausted. And, so does the indulger.

What you can do
The obvious thing to do is to stop eating sugar and refined foods. A lot of people will do great just by modifying their diet alone. There are lots of products on the market for treating the adrenals, but which ones really work? This is very individual, but I will give you some suggestions in part two.

Be well, and remember: the body wants to heal, all it needs is the opportunity.

Meet the Author


Hello and welcome to my blog! There are several reasons I decided to start writing a blog on natural self-healing. The main thing I want to do is to share information on health and healing so that people can take action to heal themselves using natural techniques. I have met so many people who couldn't afford natural health care. They may have had health insurance, but they didn't trust that model. Many people want to know how to be healthy naturally. They want to know what really works and what doesn't. They want to be health conscious and often fail because of poor information, lack of knowledge, bad science and other factors. This blog is intended to help demystify the body and its various functions and to help people understand what is really needed to obtain optimum health. One of the great things about knowledge of the body is that once you know and understand how it works it becomes easy to know what the right things to do for it. And, it is much easier to do the right things when the consequences of the wrong things are fully understood. To do this I will be drawing from the knowledge of many people that I have learned from. I will talk about biochemistry relating that to what is needed to obtain optimum health. There will be information about the physical structure of the body and how to keep that aligned and functioning well. A major part of yoga has to do with health, so information about yogic techniques will be included. Mental and emotional health are important for the health of the body/mind, so articles about these topics will be included. And, there will be an occasional article about me and what I am up to. Hopefully I can relate that back to some health issue as well. The title Self Adjusting Technique comes from my technique for self-adjusting the structural part of the body, that is adjusting the body's various vertebrae and joints. For this blog it will include the idea of how to adjust health issues for yourself and those you care about. With a little knowledge there is a lot people can do to help heal themselves and stay healthy. I want to explain complex information about the body in a way that is easy to understand and useful. The comments section will help in that goal as people can ask for clarification if there is something they don't understand. And maybe we can get some helpful input from people smarter than me that will benefit us all. I hope you find information that can help you with your health issues. Kalidasa

166 comments… add one
  • Kalidasa Jan 12, 2012, 6:17 pm

    @ Tina It could be adrenal related. Are you taking any calming herbs? Get something that is a combination of ground up herbs in capsules — tinctures rarely have the quality to work well. There may be an emotional reaction to the surgery that the herbs should help with. Large doses may be necessary.

  • Kalidasa Jan 12, 2012, 6:20 pm

    @ Alyssa Sounds like adrenal exhaustion. There are a lot of great herbs and supplements that will help. Also, you need calming herbs, a combination of ground up herbs in capsules is best as tinctures don’t have the quality to work well. Larger than recommended doses may be necessary.

  • Kalidasa Jan 12, 2012, 6:22 pm

    @ Michele There is a ton of free information on the site here, do a search for ‘adrenal,’ and you’ll get articles with the best recommendations I have. Or, my book Adrenal Fatigue — Get Your Life Back is still only $7 for the electronic version. A physical version will be available soon.

  • Kathy Leighty Feb 8, 2012, 12:11 pm

    These symptoms also fit fibromyalgia patients as well, except fibromyalgia sufferers may have gone opposite to high blood pressure and diabetes rather than low blood pressure and hypoglycemia!

    Theory: Fibromyalgia is caused by constant low level spinal pain at a subconscious level…which causes the body to go into healing/pain relief mode, thus blowing out endrocrine, thyroid, pituitary, etc…
    Also causing the hypersensitivity of nerve endings and low level serotonin…

    I think if all fibro patients spines were MRI’d there would be found and abnormalty, with adequate treatment, if caught soon enough most to all symptoms of fibro and adrenal exhaustion would go away…

    How do I know this? I’ve had it happen….then return 16 years later after another neck surgery which cause nerve damage…now I am in the throws of it all and looking at further back surgery!

  • Toni Mar 5, 2012, 10:19 am

    I was wondering if adrenal fatigue can start as a pre-teen. I started having symptoms as soon as my menstral cycles began. Irregularity (later diagnosed as PCOS) fatigue and hypoglycemia. I also am short stature 4′ 11″. That is 5 to 7 inches shorter than my partents. I stopped growing in the 5th grade. My symptoms have progressed and now I have a majority of them. I am not sure where to start looking , thyrod, adrenals or female hormones. I not only need to find an answer for myself, but I am concerned about my daughter is now 15 and has terrible fatigue, hypoglycemia and chronic abdominal and pelvic pain that they can not explain except for PCOS. She also had the worst case of acne at age ten that the dermatologist had ever seen. She is short stature as well, 4′ 11″ and stopped growing in 5th grade as well. She is miserable and I am helpless to help her. The doctors have not been helpful.

  • Kalidasa Mar 5, 2012, 12:19 pm

    @Kathy Leighty You are probably right for the most part. Add to that a liver detox issue. Also, the liver clears hormones which can add to it. The added stress hormones back the liver up further allowing the hormones to cause more of the fibromyalgia issues. Try yoga or other relaxation techniques for the stress.

    Serotonin is misunderstood by most people and many doctors, excess ser is the real culprit in most people with depression, anxiety etc.

  • Kalidasa Mar 5, 2012, 12:23 pm

    @Toni, your and your daughter’s case are complicated. There is likely an adrenal issue. Gut health is probably the bigger issue though that can come from adrenal fatigue. Real sour kraut is one of the best probiotics for the gut. Digestion issues are another likely factor, mainly low HCL in the stomach. Not eating animal protein and eating refined foods is another big problem for most people and can cause your issues as well.

  • Simon Mar 16, 2012, 3:13 am

    Hi Kalidasa,

    I’m from Denmark, but have made some saliva tests in the USA. They showed a low cortisol level…below the normal reference range. My doctor doubts that my situation has anything to do with the adrenals as normal bloodtesting didn’t show anything unusual…although he did not test for hormones?
    My question is now….and maybe you could make a video about these symptoms related to adrenal fatigue….I have some physical symptoms, but feel that I suffer heavily on the mental symptoms as well. Could the mental symptoms really be due to adrennal fatigue, and will re-establishment of the adrenals clear the mental symptoms?
    Phys. symptoms: tired, but not good at sleeping. Unable to do any kind of exercise without getting severe negative reactions afterwards? Can hardly walk 300 meters to the bakery and back without being exhausted?
    Mental symptoms. Feel very anxious, and depressed. The mental symptoms worries me the most. Could you maybe tell something about the experience on adrenal fatigue and mental symptoms, and how to re-establish adrenal function and mental function?

  • Kalidasa Mar 20, 2012, 12:28 pm

    @Simon The physical symptoms, if completely due to adrenal fatigue, will clear up with herbs and supplement for adrenal fatigue, that’s my best protocol. The mental issues may clear up, but they are usually a continuation from AF which can progress to brain chemistry imbalances. I may write about that at some point, it’s just that the subject is pretty complex and I like to write in an easy to follow way. You can consult via skype if you like, I charge on a sliding scale and know that people with these issues aren’t always the most solvent.

  • Lynne Mar 26, 2012, 7:58 am

    I am a 50 year old female with most of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue given. However, my endocrinologist ran an 8:00 a.m. resting cortisol and ACTH on me and both were normal. Cortisol was 20 pcg/dl and the ACTH was (if memory serves) about 11. Should she have at least also ran an afternoon cortisol test? Because my tests were “normal,” she has dismissed my symptoms. I’ve been on total thyroid replacement since age 12 and thyroid tests also were normal. However, she felt a goiter on me, sent me for an ultrasound, which was also “normal.” How could it be normal when she felt a goiter? I need help, please, thank you!

  • Kalidasa Mar 26, 2012, 10:03 am

    @Lynne, The only real test for functional cortisol which is only found in a saliva test that needs to be done four times throughout the day. And, adrenal fatigue almost always brings the thyroid down.

  • Sarah Mar 28, 2012, 10:16 pm

    I had never heard of Adrenal Fatigue until yesterday, I was working (I am a Hair Stylist) and I was feeling dizzy, my ears were ringing, my head felt foggy, my tummy was hurting, and I couldn’t hear well, my mom started to get worried and we googled my symptoms. Mostly what came up was Mono, or Severe Sinus Inefection. Than I noticed a site that mentioned the Adrenal Fatigue, I took a survey and I have every single symptom and I’ve ran across about 30 to 40 I would say.. I have been on Anxiety meds since a very young age, as well as depression meds, I have ridiculous mood swings, I’m angry quite often, I always feel tired no matter how much I sleep, I usually get tired early around pm, but don’t fall asleep till after midnight, I constantly crave sweets, pasta, bread, and coca cola. Oh and of course beef, anything beef. I am shaky a lot especially if I don’t eat. I have had headaches since I was 11, muscle pain since about 13 and around 16 I felt like I started early menapaus. I smoke, and some days I crave ciggarettes so bad my bf will actually take them away from me so I slow down, I stress a lot, and well the list goes on. Before I just summed myself up as a high strung anxious ass, that likes her sweets. Now I feel more like this could be the issue. Do you think I’m self diagnosing, or could this really be a problem for me? Oh and not to forget I’ve been rapidly gaining weight despite me going on a diet and walking daily, I havnt gained weight in about 3 yrs.. What should I do?!

  • Kalidasa Mar 29, 2012, 10:26 am

    @Sarah, definitely get off the toxic substances, cigarettes, caffeine etc. Anxiety is often a progression from adrenal fatigue, and the drugs will put more load on the adrenals. Same with depression. Gut pain is likely dysbiosis — bad bacteria in the gut, and leaky gut — small perforations in the intestines. This comes from sugar and processed (ground up) grains. Shaky is often from a blood sugar issue which is pre-diabetic, sometimes diabetic. Your case is fairly complex, but the main issue is dealing with addiction which is related to brain chemistry and wrong thinking, two things I plan on writing about soon. What you really need most is determination and support in eliminating the cigs and improving your diet.

  • Jean Apr 1, 2012, 6:18 pm

    I have been having health problems for so many years. I am to the point that I need to get down to the root cause if it all. My main problem is the fatigue and brain fog. I don’t have low blood pressure but have high. Could it still be adrenal fatigue> I recently saw a regular doc (actually a PA) for heart palpitations. An EKG was done and nothing found. Blood work was done as well and all came out good I was told. I was sent home with a haltor to check my heart rythyms. Don’t have those results back yet. I am frustrated and don’t have money to spend on trying to find all of this out. This is causing me to not enjoy my life fully. It is hard for me to work. I do not tell people about this but try to hide it. I am struggling. I heard of a program where they pay you to go to school to help you find the right vocation but you must have a diagnosis and a treatment plan in force. This makes me want to receive a diagnosis and shouldn’t a person really know what they are truly dealing with, after all? I have been going to docs here and there for the last 16 years, only to be treated for the symptoms…the cause never found or treated. I remain sick and tired and very much afraid for my future.

  • Kalidasa Apr 2, 2012, 11:23 am

    @Jean, After so much time there is likely more to your issues than just adrenal fatigue. Actually, I’m a bit surprised at your ability to cope. The reason I’m surprised is that after a long enough time with adrenal fatigue the brain chemistry is usually affected much more than what yours sounds like.

    AF can come with high, low or normal blood pressure depending on many factors. It does sound like AF to me, but I’m not sure because of the heart palpitations. Many issues can cause that, and some can also cause the fatigue symptoms you have. Two things you can do. First, eliminate all sugars and ground up grains. Strictly limit grains in general or eliminate them if possible. Get rid of potatoes and most fruit too. If you’re young enough that will make a difference quickly. Then, you can try this adrenal fatigue test. Not conclusive, but a good indicator. You can contact me if you’d like a phone consultation — I charge on a sliding scale to make it easy.

  • gladys Apr 2, 2012, 11:45 am

    i have been on antidepressants since 1989. i have tried different ones and nothing has ever helped.i always felt like something was wrong i have been trying to get off theseantidepressants since nov. 2007.i felt so bad from withdrawal symtoms that i would try one again. i have been off of them since mar 8,20012. i have taken the saliva test and found out i have adrenal fatigue .i am taking supplements for the adrenals and my neurotransmitters.s since feb.6,20012. my dr. is telling me that he believes that because i took antidepressants for all those years, my neurotransmitters have been damaged and my adrenals plus stress has caused my adrenal fatigue. i an literally a wreck. how long will it take me to be o.k again? i am having a hard time going thru this. Is there a treatment center where i could go and get the help I need.I do have insurance.

  • gladys Apr 2, 2012, 12:05 pm

    thanks for helping all of us with your web page I am learing a lot about adrenal fatigue and it,s symtoms….from Gladys

  • Kalidasa Apr 2, 2012, 2:25 pm

    @gladys, I’m happy that my work is of benefit to people. I plan on continuing though I have other projects these days.

    It does take time to get off antidepressants. I don’t know of a clinic, that would be nice. There may be other supplements and herbs that could be of more help to you. That is an area I know about if you’d like a consultation.

    The damage to the neurotransmitters has to do with the re-uptake variety of antidepressants. The way they seem to work, not from studies but from biochemistry, is that the excess serotonin that stays in the synapse burns out the receptors so they don’t respond to serotonin. Unfortunately, most people and a lot of doctors think that depression and anxiety come from a lack of serotonin when the opposite is more accurate. I’d recommend supplement that help in reducing serotonin as well as others that help depression in general. I’ve been thinking of writing a book on the subject since I’ve been researching it and coming up with some very interesting material. I wish there were more studies though.

  • yoys Apr 11, 2012, 8:49 pm

    hello! i would like to share my problem since 2008 till now, every time i bowel i feel weak and sicky all the time I’ve done so many test except for colonoscopy, which the result was negative except for uric acid, I’ve tried many medicine but nothing happen, doctor told me that I have ibs associated with anxiety. here,s my symptoms! weak,vomiting,nausea,loss of appetite,blurred vision,panic attack,legs shaken back and shoulder pain etc…. anyone else have idea to my case? thanks in advance!!!

  • Kalidasa Apr 15, 2012, 4:38 pm

    @yoys, The symptoms you have do sound like adrenal fatigue. Anxiety is a little different though. It is usually a progression from AF that affects the brain chemistry, usually excess serotonin, or deficient dopamine which is essentially the same thing since they balance each other.

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