Learn These 4 Adrenal Exhaustion Symptoms

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH

If you have tiredness or fatigue and you don’t understand why, these are some of the most common Adrenal Exhaustion SymptomsAdrenal Fatigue Syndrome is a complex neuroendocrine disorder resulting from poor functioning of the adrenal glands. Stress, which bombards us daily, is a common factor in the degradation of the adrenal glands which gives rise to this disorder. This state of sub-optimal adrenal function causes a chain of reactions affecting every system in the body. In its early stages, these effects are mild and easy to overlook. But because of the subtleties of the early symptoms, many people have Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome without even realizing it. Often it is not until the late stages when the adrenal glands begin to deteriorate and the symptoms become severe that people start to realize something is wrong. At this point, the road to recovery is longer and harder. So how do we spot Adrenal Exhaustion Symptoms before they becomes a serious problem? Here are 4 commonly overlooked early signs:

Chronic Tiredness, Sluggishness, and Fatigue Not Alleviated by Rest

While it is natural to be tired at the end of a long day, a good night’s sleep should help relax us and replenish our energy for the next day. If the body continuously experiences stress however, the constant elevation of stress hormones keeps the body alert and ready, and hampers our ability to fall into a restful sleep. Our tiredness carries into the next day and the next, and we require coffee or other stimulants to make it through the day. Our reliance on these energy ‘crutches’ masks the harm we are doing to our bodies in the long term. Waking up unrefreshed and feeling the need for an afternoon nap are early subtle signs. Special attention should be placed on any sugar craving it reflects underlying metabolic and insulin imbalance.

Anxiety, Depression, Impaired Thinking and Inability to Handle Stress

The adrenal gland helps regulate cognitive function and mental health in a variety of ways, including the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) hormonal axis.

If you have depression along with other Adrenal Exhaustion Symptoms, this is a big indicator you should look into itThis internal imbalance, often coupled with a lack of proper rest, can lead to brain fog and a decline in mental acuity, along with feeling less tolerant and more easily frustrated.

Low Blood Pressure and Salt Cravings

The hormone aldosterone is produced by the adrenal glands and has the important role of regulating salt levels in our blood. When aldosterone drops, our sodium levels drop, and our body naturally craves salt to replenish the lost sodium. When sodium leaves our bodies in our urine, water also naturally leaves the body as well, which lowers the fluid volume in our blood vessels and causes low blood pressure.

Weight Gain

Weight gain is another common member of associated adrenal exhaustion symptoms. The increased cortisol production from the adrenal glands in the early stages of adrenal fatigue puts the body into a stress response state. Our body naturally seeks out calorie rich and dense foods to replenish and fill our energy storage in the form of fat. This was originally a survival mechanism when stress would mean lean times and a threat to survival; but in today’s modern world, our body’s natural instincts do not serve the same purpose anymore. Unless you are in late stages of fatigue, weight gain, especially in the center section, is a common finding of adrenal fatigue. If you cannot lose weight despite multiple attempts and strict diets, think adrenal fatigue!

Weight gain is a common problem in today’s world, but it can also be one of the common Adrenal Exhaustion SymptomsAll of these are quite common in the population today and many are treated away, or masked with medications or over-the-counter remedies. Together, though, they start to paint a picture of a deeper problem in the body. Ignoring them can mean missing the early warning signs of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome and risking a chance to turn it around before it becomes too serious.

Adrenal Exhaustion Symptoms – Conclusion

There is a lot to think about regarding adrenal exhaustion symptoms. While addressing adrenal fatigue syndrome and beginning recovery, it is also important to note an important process known as the NEM Stress Response. The neuroendocrine metabolic (NEM) stress response comes into play when the body undergoes a stressful stimulus. Initially the adrenal glands respond, but that is just one part of a multi-phase system throughout the entire body. Just as cortisol and the adrenal glands affect the whole body, this is just the hormonal response aspect of the NEM Stress Response. Many other processes are occurring and must be brought back into balance in order to effectively recover from adrenal fatigue. It is important to address the NEM Stress Response and Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome with your healthcare provider.

Adrenal exhaustion symptoms

5 - "Dr. Lam, you are so helpful,"
Dr. Lam, you are so helpful, what a blessing you are to so many, I will try as you mentioned, I appreciate your help SO MUCH!!!! God Bless you!!.


  • Dario says:

    I bet you haven’t heard this one before that happens to me:
    Like clockwork, I wake up 100% rested and then the next morning I’m fatigued at 20% whole day and then again I’m back to 100% the morning after and it goes on, one good day, one bad day – thoughts anyone?

  • Julie says:

    Dr. Lam, What kind of “doctor” will be able to diagnose AFS accurately? My insurance will probably not cover it, so are there tests I can request in order to do this, along with looking at my symptoms? Thank you.

  • Robyn Hope says:

    I have no salt or sugar cravings, but suffer from severe depression and poor appetite, which I believe has to do with my age and circumstances.
    What am i to do to improve my situation?
    I can’t change my age and circumstances.

    • Dr.Lam says:

      You should see your doctor and have a check up to make sure no issues going on with your body. Adrenal fatigue is a condition not recognized by conventional medicine. sometimes AFS can present with similar symptoms. This article may help. Read Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome for more information.

      Dr Lam