Constantly stressed & exhausted? Take the quiz to find out if you are suffering from adrenal fatigue
Fatigue has become the epidemic of the 21st century. Some people don’t wake up feeling refreshed and need cups of coffee to get going. Others get afternoon dips and crave sugar to keep going. Others can’t understand why they have been gaining weight, especially around the middle. Others, get a surge of energy in the evening, besides feeling tired all day and struggle to go to bed on time.
This is not normal, as many people think, and should not be part of your everyday routine.
Take the quiz below, to find out if you are suffering from adrenal exhaustion.
Identify any symptoms you have been experiencing in the last year.
Select between "none", "mild", "moderate" and "severe".
- I have difficulty falling asleep.
- I can’t stay asleep.
- I don’t wake up feeling refreshed.
- I feel sleepy in the afternoon, or after lunch.
- I feel tired all the time.
- I have gained weight recently, especially in the trunk.
- My memory is getting worse.
- I can't focus; I have brain fog.
- I crave sweets and carbs.
- I crave salty foods.
- When I am tired I reach for sugary/fatty foods for energy.
- I need coffee/tea to get me going through the day.
- I can become easily irritable or angry.
- I can't handle pressure like I used to.
- I have acne.
- My hair is thinning/falling out.
- I get frequent colds and flu.
- I have low libido.
- My menstrual cycle is irregular (women only).
- I am intolerant to cold or temperature changes.
- I don't have the same enthusiasm for life as I used to.
- I get dizzy from sitting to standing.
- I frequently fall asleep in the cinema/while watching TV or when reading a book.
- I feel trained rather than energised after exercise.
- I often need a nap to keep going through the day.
- I feel like I have lost my vitality.
- It takes me a long time to recover from the gym.
- I feel more anxious than I used to.
- I am not as productive in work as I used to be.
- I feel very irritable if I go a long time without food.
- I feel like a need some alcohol to unwind in the evening.
- I have a sudden surge of energy in the evening.
- My blood pressure is low.
Now add up your symptoms to calculate your score: 0 points for “none”, 1 point for “mild”, 2 points for “moderate” and 3 points for “severe”.
Interpretation of results:
0-8 points: Congrats! Your adrenals and hormones are at a good level. You know how to deal with stressful situations. Make sure you follow a good diet, exercise routine and lifestyle to continue enjoying vibrant health.
9-17 points: Your adrenals are mildly overworking. You are wired most of the time. You have recently started experiencing some mild changes in your stamina or mood, or you may still not feel any difference. You should start taking action before your symptoms progress.
18-25 points: Your adrenals have been moderately affected. You have been over exhausting yourself, and it has started taking a toll in your life. You should start prioritising and taking action to restore adrenal function.
26 points or more: You are most probably suffering from adrenal fatigue/exhaustion. You either feel tired but wired, or constantly tired. You need to take dietary and lifestyle action to heal your adrenals. A supplement programme is necessary in order to restore adrenal health. A good practitioner can help you see significant improvement in one month and you could recover completely in three to six months.
*Please note that this test is just preliminary, and under no circumstances should it be used for self-diagnosis. If you have any medical concerns, please seek advice from your medical GP first.
What are the adrenal glands?
Your adrenal glands are small organs that sit on top of our kidneys. They are in charge of secreting many of your vital hormones: mineralocorticoid like aldosterone to regulate your blood pressure, sex hormones (steroids) like testosterone and DHEA, the anti-ageing hormone, catecholamines like adrenaline, and glucocorticoid like cortisol, your main energy hormone.
In the Paleolithic era a ‘fight or flight’ response, when danger was encountered, was necessary for survival. During such a response cortisol and adrenaline rise to mobilise you away from the stressor. After the danger has passed, the two hormone levels can get back to normal quite quickly. Throughout time, however, our bodies have evolved to go through a constant “fight or flight” mode, given everyday life stressors. As you might expect cortisol levels, in a good scenario, are constantly high. Constant secretion of cortisol can exhaust your adrenal glands and make your cells resistant to cortisol, what can long term result in chronic low cortisol levels. That is when we can talk about adrenal fatigue. Some people, however, stay for years in stage one of adrenal fatigue (high cortisol, constantly wired and overexerting themselves) and is only when they start feeling less energetic that they realise there may be a problem. Sometimes this is too late and healing may take much longer.
So what is adrenal fatigue?
Cortisol is neither bad or good - it just is. The problem arises when there is an imbalance of cortisol.
In a healthy individual, cortisol reaches its highest in the morning, after waking up and slowly falls as the day passes, to reach its lowest prior to sleep. Melatonin, your “sleep” hormone, is inversely proportional to cortisol. So when cortisol is high, melatonin is low and vice versa.
Adrenal fatigue happens when there’s an imbalance in this cortisol diurnal rhythm: cortisol is high when it should be low, low when it should be high, or always high or always low. There are many patterns, with the most common being very high cortisol throughout the day (people that overdrive themselves and never take a break or do not deal with stress), low cortisol throughout the day and a spike prior to sleep (in people that wake up unrefreshed but have trouble falling asleep), low throughout the day (in adrenal exhaustion, encountered in people that feel tired all the time and it usually happens when they have been pushing themselves too hard for years).
What causes adrenal fatigue?
Our modern city lives, with their many ongoing stressors. Unlike acute stress, for which we’re biologically hardwired, chronic stress turns on the fight-or-flight response without any rest.
Some examples are:
- Emotional/mental stress.
- Excessive exercise.
- Sleeping less than six to eight hours per day.
- Processed diets, refined sugar.
- Food intolerance.
- Suboptimal digestion.
- Dysbiosis (unbalanced microbiome).
- “Leaky gut”.
- Toxin overload/suboptimal detoxification.
- Autoimmune conditions.
Where should you start?
Consider having laboratory testing
There are plenty of functional labs that you can ask for a comprehensive adrenal stress profile (saliva or urine test). The results should be interpreted by a qualified practitioner.
Nutrition and lifestyle
If you don’t have the budget for an adrenal stress index test right now, you can still start nourishing your adrenals through nutrition, lifestyle changes, and quality supplementation, with the help of your physician.
Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.
About Olianna Gourli
Olianna Gourli is a qualified naturopath/nutritional therapist, with a background in science and research (BSc hons.), mBANT, rCNHC). She has great expertise in gastrointestinal issues, such as IBS, hormonal imbalances and women's health, stress and chronic fatigue. She sees clients in her clinics in London, Athens and through Skype.