Why the @#%& Am I So Tired, Depressed + Anxious?
My daily fatigue started back in university. I had trouble getting through the day without a nap or an Ativan to calm my anxiety. I was severely depressed after a breakup with a
man boy I was with for over 3 years. It came all of a sudden and I was blindsided.
The months after I became increasingly tired, and felt as though I’d lost my zest for life. Even as I got over him, my energy didn’t return for several years. Trying to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology was extremely difficult when all I wanted to do was sleep.
So I did what any smart woman would do and went to see my doctor. I told her about this fatigue that had me skipping both classes and any kind of social life. The anxiety that crippled me into not having any friends in school. The depression that often had me crying myself to sleep at night.
She agreed to do some tests for the typical things like iron levels.
After the results came back, everything of course was “normal”. I asked her what could possibly be making me so tired then, and she replied, “some people are just tired”.
A non-answer. An easy out.
I begrudgingly accepted her advice for a long time. It wasn’t until I was in nutrition school and learned more about the causes of my unexplained tiredness, depression and anxiety that I was able to make positive change in my own life.
Now my energy is stable throughout the day, I’m no longer fighting fatigue and my moods are (mostly) dependable.
I want this so badly for you too. I want you to feel well, and stop watching your life pass you by. I want you to be happy.
So here I’m going to give you the information you won’t get from you doctor.
The Valid Reason You’re So Tired, Depressed and Anxious
Stressed? Tired? Craving sugar? Can’t sleep?
All of these can be related to the constant stress we feel in our lives. We know that stress can have a huge impact on our health and wellness. And, since your adrenal (aka stress) glands produce stress hormones, adrenal fatigue (or “HPA Axis Dysregulation,”) is a popular theme lately.
Your adrenal glands look like walnuts that live on top of both of your kidneys. These important glands produce many hormones, including stress hormones like cortisol.
But what happens when they become “overworked?”
You’ve heard of “adrenaline junkies,” right?
Adrenaline and cortisol are the stress hormones that give you the commonly known adrenaline rush; when you’re totally alert and living in the moment. This feeling is known as your body’s “fight or flight” response.
Some people (perhaps you?) just love that intense feeling.
The release of hormones in the fight or flight response is your body’s normal reaction to stress. Stress can sometimes be positive, like when it helps you swerve and prevent a crash.
After a short time, the flight or flight response dissipates, your body goes back to normal, and all is good.
But what would happen if you felt constant stress? Like all day, every day? Like “chronic” stress?
It wouldn’t feel like an awesome (once-in-a-while) “rush,” anymore would it?
And what do you think happens to your poor adrenal glands when they’re constantly working?
They’d get fatigued, right?
Do I Have Adrenal Fatigue?
When your adrenal glands start getting tired of secreting stress hormones day in and out, you can start getting other symptoms.
Symptoms like fatigue, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, weight loss or gain, joint pain, sugar cravings, even frequent infections like colds and the flu are signs that your adrenals are overworked.
First off, I have to tell you that there aren’t medically accepted blood tests for adrenal fatigue. In fact, it’s not recognized by most medical professionals until the point when your adrenals are so fatigued they almost stop working. At that point, the official diagnoses of “Adrenal Insufficiency” or “Addison’s Disease” may apply.
However, if you do have symptoms, you should see your doctor to rule out other conditions. He or she may even be open to discussing adrenal fatigue (if you’re lucky), or at the very least, wellness strategies that can help to reduce your stress (and symptoms).
What To Do If I Have These Symptoms?
There are many actions you can take to reduce your stress and improve your health and energy levels.
Ideally, if you think stress is starting to burn you out, stress reduction is key. There are tons of ideas how you can reduce your stress. My favourites are meditation, walking in nature, light exercise, more sleep, or taking a bath.
Of course, I also recommend reducing sugar and processed food intake and eating more fruits and vegetables. Better nutrition can only help your body. So go ahead and do it.
Your adrenal glands produce hormones in response to stress. After long-term daily stress, they may get tired.
Adrenal fatigue is a controversial disease that doesn’t have a true diagnostic test, nor specific telltale symptoms.
The most important thing you can do is to get tested to rule out other potential conditions. You can also try stress reduction techniques like meditation, walks in nature, light exercise, more sleep, or even a lovely bath.