11 Signs of Adrenal Exhaustion

Adrenal Exhaustion

Content updated from previous publish date.

If you feel tired all day long, even after getting a good night’s sleep, it could be a sign that your stress load is more than your adrenal glands can handle. The adrenals are a pair of triangle-shaped glands that sit on top of your kidneys, and they take center stage in your stress resilience, cognitive function, and hormone balance. The truth is adrenal exhaustion, also known as adrenal fatigue, is one of the most common yet most overlooked health problems in recent times.

Adrenal exhaustion, also known as adrenal fatigue, is one of the most common yet most overlooked health problems in recent times. Click To Tweet


The adrenal glands are involved in producing hormones in the body, including cortisol, which is involved in the fight-or-flight response. Imagine that you’re hiking through the woods with your children when suddenly, a mountain lion appears. Immediately, your heart starts pounding and your adrenals begin producing adrenaline and other hormones to give you a quick burst of energy to fight the lion or pick up your children and run away as fast as you can.

The problem is that your body doesn’t recognize the difference between one kind of stress and another. Whether it’s physical stress at the sight of a mountain lion or mental stress caused by working 60 hours at your job each week, your body reacts the same way: it pumps out loads of stress chemicals.

When running from the lion, you put the chemicals to use and get them out of your system—no problem. But many people are faced with the latter type—intense mental stress—on a daily basis, and eventually, it can lead to adrenal exhaustion.


In our go-go-go society, we experience stress on a regular basis. Traffic jams, relationship problems, and last-minute work projects mean that we’re stressed from the time we open our eyes until we hit the sack at night. This can cause our adrenal glands to go into overdrive, making them produce cortisol continuously. If chronic stress last for many months or years, the adrenal glands can burn out. We call this adrenal exhaustion, adrenal fatigue, or adrenal gland failure, and it reduces your body’s ability to cope with daily stressors.

When this occurs, you may feel fatigued throughout the day, have trouble tackling or completing chores or tasks associated with daily living, and may find it difficult to perform at work. Adrenal fatigue makes you fat — especially in your abdomen, which not only looks bad but also increases your risk for cardiovascular disease. Chronic exposure to stress hormones also kills brain cells in the hippocampus, a major memory structure in the brain.


Chronic, unrelenting stress is considered one of the most common causes leading to adrenal fatigue. One of the contributors to chronic stress is a lack of sleep. An estimated 50-70 million Americans aren’t getting enough of it, according to statistics from the State of Sleep Health in America in 2022. If you aren’t getting adequate sleep—approximately 7-8 hours at night—your body enters a state of stress overload. Other potential causes include a poor diet, excessive use of caffeine or stimulants, chronic pain, negative thinking patterns, emotional trauma, exposure to environmental toxins, and food sensitivities.

In addition to these issues, people with adrenal fatigue may also have low levels of DHEA, a master hormone that is involved in the production of many other hormones. DHEA levels generally begin to decline once a person hits age 30 and may be depleted in some people with medical and mental health issues, such as anorexia, end-stage kidney disease, type 2 diabetes (non-insulin-dependent diabetes), AIDS, and more. Certain medications, such as insulin, steroids, and opiates, may also play a role in lowering DHEA levels.


How can you tell if you or a loved one has adrenal exhaustion? Common signs and symptoms include:

  1. Decreased ability to withstand stress
    2. Mental fog with poor memory and difficulty concentrating
    3. Morning and afternoon fatigue, lack of stamina
    4. Abdominal fat that doesn’t go away, no matter what you do
    5. Low libido
    6. Cravings for sweets or salty foods
    7. Hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) under stress
    8. Dizziness when getting up from a sitting or lying position
    9. High blood pressure and rapid heartbeat
    10. Signs of premature aging
    11. Recurrent infections and poor wound healing

If you notice these symptoms, it’s a good idea to discuss them with a healthcare provider who is familiar with adrenal fatigue.


Getting diagnosed with adrenal fatigue can be challenging. This is why it’s important to see a medical professional, such as an integrative medicine (or functional medicine) physician, who is familiar with the condition. Typically, testing for adrenal fatigue involves checking cortisol, DHEA-S levels, and other hormone levels. Blood tests may not be helpful, however, saliva tests may be beneficial in helping to detect abnormal levels.


There are several natural ways to combat adrenal fatigue including:

  • Stress-management techniques: Reducing stress is key to recovering from adrenal fatigue.
  • Meditation: Making meditation part of your daily routine can calm stress.
  • Self-hypnosis: Using hypnosis to put yourself into a state of relaxation can be very beneficial.
  • Kill the ANTs: Eliminating automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) can help reduce stress and worry.
  • Eliminate nutritional stressors: Avoid caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and processed foods.
  • Eat foods that support adrenal function: Focus your diet on foods that are nutritious, low in sugar, and high in fiber.
  • Nutritional supplements:
    • B vitamins—either in foods like green leafy vegetables or in supplements—support the adrenal system and help our bodies deal with stress.
    • 5-HTP helps you sleep and boosts serotonin levels in the brain, which helps you calm stress.
    • Phosphatidylserine can also be helpful for adrenal fatigue.
    • DHEA, if levels are low, is an important supplement to counteract adrenal fatigue.
    • Adaptogens: Some research shows that adaptogens improve resistance to stress.
    • Vitamin D: Some studies have linked low vitamin D levels to the overproduction of cortisol and suggest that supplementation with vitamin D may be beneficial in adrenal diseases.

Recovering from adrenal fatigue takes time. Remember, it took months or even years to wear down your adrenal function, so it will take some time to heal. The best way to accelerate the healing process is to adopt healthy lifestyle changes that reduce stress and support adrenal function.

Adrenal fatigue and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. I love the information you have on your newsletters!
    Thank You for the invaluable information!

    Comment by Felice Diamond — May 4, 2018 @ 7:33 AM

  2. Are there any Amen clinics in Toronto, Ontario, Canada or surrounding areas? If not, is it something you are considering in the not-too-distant future?

    Thank you.


    Comment by Janet Daviau — May 4, 2018 @ 1:01 PM

  3. Thank you for this article. I recognize all the symptoms, so much so, that I cried reading them. I think there might be an inclusion of information regarding Cushing’s Syndrome. I was diagnosed with Adrenal Exhaustion. What is recommended for this condition?

    Comment by Asdzaan Nizhonie — May 4, 2018 @ 1:38 PM

  4. I experienced weight gain and mental fog ,poor memory, how you check for Adrenal gland.

    Comment by Henriette Habsh — May 5, 2018 @ 7:58 AM

  5. I have major adrenal fatigue from being sick with Lyme disease for at least 18 years and my cortisol levels are rock bottom low, so I have to take Adaptacin that I get from my naturopath to keep my low cortisol levels within normal range. Note—because of the severe adrenal fatigue, most deal with LOW blood pressure. Hope this is helpful! God bless!

    Comment by Anne Davis — May 5, 2018 @ 10:45 AM

  6. Hello Janet, thank you for reaching out. At this time we do not have a clinic location in Canada. Our current locations are listed here: https://amenclinics.com/locations/. We hope to continue to expand! Stay tuned.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — May 7, 2018 @ 9:08 AM

  7. yes, my cortisol levels are rock-bottom, i can’t sleep well at all, i’m always cold (and tired, but I think that’s natural when you average only 5-6 hours of sleep) and–definitely fat around the mid-section. I don’t get sick that often, but wounds can be slow to heal. It is disturbing to read that Adrenal Fatigue and Exhaustion are not “real” diseases…Then how come my doctor did tests and said I have it?!? AND I have low blood pressure, resulting in occasional episodes of dizziness and near-fainting. So it seems like I have most of the “symptoms” of this non-disease! Oh brother. Has the Adaptacin helped you? How so? If it’s from a Naturopath, I’m assuming insurance won’t cover it, so-is it expensive? Does it help you sleep better??

    Comment by Celeste — August 15, 2019 @ 5:28 AM

  8. I wish Amen Clinic's can come to South Africa😁Thank you for the insightful content

    Comment by Faryl Kayster — July 25, 2022 @ 10:42 AM

  9. I would love to know more. I live in Australia 😊

    Comment by Amber — July 27, 2022 @ 9:10 PM

  10. I have been diagnosed with high aldosterone levels in my kidneys/ adrenals after a small stroke and being treated in NB by a top notch kidney doc but whenever i try and ask questions, I’m put off and he tells me I’m taking the right drug for the problem. I’m a bit of a anti western medicine person so is there someone in your practice that has knowledge with this kind of problem? I’m in your area in NB , so its not too far for me to come see a functional medicine doctor ?? Can you deal with this kind of medical problem? Looking for a more natural approach
    🙏 Sincerely, M Lewis

    Comment by M Lewis — April 17, 2023 @ 11:37 AM

  11. Are there any Amen clinics in Sydney Australia?
    Thank you

    Comment by Pari_shams — April 17, 2023 @ 3:38 PM

  12. Sounds like a lotta "whoo" to me.

    Comment by Mike Roberts — April 18, 2023 @ 4:17 PM

  13. Celeste, sadly a few years later, I am just seeing your asking me a question about what has helped me with the SEVERE ADRENAL FATIGUE (that endocrinologists will fight you to the death saying THIS does not exist)! Lol Since I posted last on this topic, my Lyme doctor switched me over to Adreno-Zyme by Apex Energetics and it is giving me WAY better support than the other supplement. It is medical grade and I do have to go through a Lyme doctor, holistic doctor, functional medicine doctor, naturopath to be able to get it. But if you do a Google search for that exact supplement, there are a handful of alternative med doctors who understand that people sometimes need supplements, but have mostly run out of money. My Lyme doctor has me taking 3 a day, but depending how bad a case of adrenal fatigue you have, you might not need as many as 3 a day. If you need to know for certain exactly where your cortisol levels are at all day long, there is a cortisol saliva test you can actually do on your own that you send back to the lab online and then you get your test results. I’m sure there are other labs out there that offer this, but I’m desperately trying to remember the lab I’ve used that my Christian therapist told me about because she knew I needed to know exactly what my cortisol levels were at at that time. Wait. I think it’s ZRT LABS. I really pray you stumble across this and see my message to you a few years later. And yes, Adreno-Zyme by Apex is out of pocket and medical grade. I literally would not be functioning at all without it. Wishing you all the best! God bless you!

    Comment by Anne — April 18, 2023 @ 7:38 PM

  14. I have all of these things but when tested nothing came up as abnormal. I’ve had burnout, i still have most of these symptoms. It’s very frustrating. I’m on constant alert/stress and have been most of my life, and these rememedies are part of my life. Why doesn’t anything show up?

    Comment by Alaina — April 19, 2023 @ 1:29 AM

  15. Due to the loss of my mother the naturalist told me to rest, sleep, exercise and eat among other things liver to restore the adrenals.

    Comment by Milagros Sanchez — April 19, 2023 @ 5:02 AM

  16. thank you for this information!

    Comment by Doug Morris — May 12, 2023 @ 1:51 PM

  17. Great article.. A medicinal enlightenment.

    Comment by Dr. Pervin Keki Surti — May 13, 2023 @ 9:21 AM

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