Adrenal Exhaustion, Neurotransmitter, & Hormone Imbalance—The 21st Century Epidemic
Welcome to modern day life for the majority of us: continuous, low to moderate grade stress! Starting with rushing in the morning to get ready for the day, getting to work, getting kids to school, eating breakfast (hopefully!), dealing with morning and evening traffic/commuting, work deadlines, financial pressures, relationship needs, family members…the list only seems to grow every year! All of this contributes to adrenal fatigue!
Now, on a positive note, humans were designed to be able to cope with and deal with stress. In fact, we have a number of complex feedback loops that connect the nervous and endocrine systems in a marvel of engineering of organ and chemical coordination between the brain stem, pituitary and hypothalamus glands, hormones, neurotransmitters, the thyroid, adrenals, ovaries, and testes!
However, in recent decades, the pace and demands of modern life have begun to overwhelm and overload our capacity for handling such ‘stress’ events. No longer are they occasional, punctuated by relatively long ‘calm’ periods but rather they are nearly omnipresent, which is resulting in many people exhausting themselves and ‘feeling old’ well before their time!
In fact, in integrative medicine, we are seeing more and more individuals at younger and younger ages showing signs of what we call ‘adrenal fatigue’ or ‘adrenal exhaustion’ and hormone imbalance and/or premature decline. This is largely due to the lifestyles and pressures many of us lead and face routinely. Symptoms such as needing sugar, caffeine or other stimulants to get through a day, always feeling tired even if you’ve slept 9 hours the nights before, feeling massive swings in energy, mood or cravings throughout the day, difficulties conceiving and/or staying pregnant, trouble sleeping, and/or heart palpitations may all be signs that your neurohormonal system(s) are out of balance and heading toward complete exhaustion. In severe cases, this can result in some individuals bed-ridden and so worn out they are unable to work, care for their family and/or pursue important life goals.
For many people, some of these issues can be partly due to a decline in what we call ‘neurotransmitters,’ which are potent chemical messengers produced in the brain and adrenal glands that influence everything from wakefulness and focus to addictive tendencies, mood, ability to deal with stress, and more. While testing for neurotransmitters is now possible and can be incredibly useful in establishing an integrative treatment protocol for an individual, this is almost never done in conventional medicine, which will prescribe often potent anti-depressant, anxiety, or other psychotropic meds which do not improve depleted or imbalanced levels of neurotransmitters, which typically leads to a decline in effectiveness over time, since the true issues are not being corrected.
For others it may be more of an issue of decline in stress and/or sex hormones, which can be assessed via specialized salivary and/or blood tests. Hormones are incredibly powerful chemical messengers which do much more than change our bodies at puberty and facilitate reproduction. Conversely, they influence and support such diverse things as good metabolism, heart health, good cognitive function and memory, optimal body composition, strong bones and muscles, and more! By supporting the body’s natural production and supplementing with appropriate levels of such hormones, we can help support the body improve and recover from such deficits caused by chronic lifestyle imbalances and stressors.
Thankfully, there are real ways to recover from these cumulative stressors for the long-term, with the right help and the right testing, whatever your individual deficits and imbalances may be. Through a combination of lifestyle, dietary, nutritional, hormonal, and potentially prescriptive supports, we can recover from such dire straits. Here at Visionary Health, we work extensively with such complaints and issues by getting to the ROOTS of the problem(s) and working at creating long-term improvements and balance by not just correcting symptoms but by correcting all the issues and factors that may be contributing through such situations in individuals lives, from nutritional deficiencies to neurotransmitter imbalances to low cortisol levels and more.