There are four stages involved in the progression of adrenal fatigue as a result of stress:
- Alarm Reaction
- Resistance Response
The first phase, Alarm Reaction, is also known as the fight or flight response. This is a necessary reaction to survival. The body kicks into high gear to deal with the stressor that the body has encountered which means an increase in cortisol.
In the second phase, Resistance Response, the stressor is still affecting the body’s ability to produce cortisol. This is a gradual process, but the result is that the adrenal glands simply cannot keep up. In the third phase adrenal exhaustion occurs. This phase might take a few years to occur and actually impact the sex hormones, too. The impact of the stressor takes a toll on the rest of the body, not just the adrenal glands. This happens because the body redirects energy to focus on cortisol production to keep up with demand. Imbalances in the sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and androgens) are a common precursor to adrenal failure.
The final phase of adrenal fatigue is failure. The glands are completely exhausted and the patient has a significantly higher chance of heart failure.
So what does this all mean to you? Well, think about the stress that is running rampant in our society. It seems that from the moment we wake up until the moment our heads hit the pillow at night, we are on the run. Running to prepare breakfast, get the kids off to school and ourselves to work. We also rush to get the errands run, dinner on the table, kids to games, practices, recitals, and meetings. Now what about homework, laundry, the dog walked and fed. When does it end?
Life is not a race. Every hour of the day is not meant to be filled with an excess of activities. We are not machines. There is a limit to what our body can do. If we treat it like a machine, we are equipping ourselves for failure. And this failure could cost us our life.