Adrenal Fatigue: Definition, Symptoms & Treatment

Jenna Hilton
June 7, 2023

If you feel tired, lethargic, or unable to cope with everyday stress, you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue. This catch-all lay term describes a health condition triggered by prolonged periods of physical, emotional, or mental stress.

While adrenal fatigue is not an officially accepted medical diagnosis, the fact that so many people feel chronically tired indicates how stress can impact one’s health.

This article explains what adrenal fatigue is, outlining its symptoms, causes, and ways to combat this stress-induced health condition.

What is adrenal fatigue and how to treat it

What Is Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is not officially recognized as a diagnosis by medical institutions, including the FDA. However, the term is used by the general public and certain alternative practitioners to describe a range of physical and mental symptoms that may arise if the adrenal glands are overworked because of chronic stress.

Adrenal Fatigue vs. Adrenal Insufficiency

Unlike adrenal fatigue, adrenal insufficiency is a medically accepted diagnosis with more severe symptoms and a potentially fatal outcome if left untreated.

Adrenal fatigue and adrenal insufficiency are often lumped together since both conditions refer to adrenal gland dysfunction.

Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS)Adrenal Insufficiency (AI)
State of adrenal glandsAdrenal glands are not physically damaged but are weakened due to chronic stress.Adrenal glands may be physically damaged, disrupting cortisol production.
DiagnosisThere are no well-defined diagnostic criteria.It is diagnosed via blood tests, the Short Synacthen Test (SST), thyroid function test, and scans.
Officially recognizedNot universally accepted by the medical community.A treatable medical condition recognized by the medical community.
SymptomsSevere symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. AI can also lead to a life-threatening adrenal crisis.Severe symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain. AI can also lead to a life-threatening adrenal crisis.
Cause of other issuesAFS does not directly cause autoimmune disorders.An autoimmune disorder called Addison’s disease is also known as primary adrenal insufficiency.
TreatmentTreatment consists of lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, and nutritional supplementation.Treatment requires daily doses of corticosteroids or other medication.

Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms

The principal symptom of adrenal fatigue is a constant feeling of tiredness. However, exhaustion can be accompanied by other physical and mental symptoms:

  • Body aches
  • Muscle weakness
  • Unexplained weight fluctuations
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Brain fog
  • Depression
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lightheadedness
  • Digestive issues
  • Skin discoloration (hyperpigmentation)
  • Loss of body hair
  • Decreased libido
  • Difficulty coping with stress
  • Craving salt and sugar

Any of these symptoms can also be indications of other illnesses. Before treating adrenal fatigue, make sure your primary care physician has discounted other causes for your discomfort.

Note: Strong cravings can be a sign of various medical conditions, so it's important to get to the root of the issue. If you decide to look into the matter, consult your physician about using natural appetite suppressants, such as Vibrant Crave Control, to minimize cravings until their cause is resolved.

What Causes Adrenal Fatigue?

There are no clear-cut causes of adrenal fatigue. The most common contributing factors include:

  • Chronic stress – Exposure to prolonged physical, emotional, or mental stress.
  • Sedentary lifestyle – Lack of movement or exercise coupled with inactive, desktop-bound behavior.
  • Physical or mental exertion – Burnout caused by overwork and engaging in strenuous physical activities.
  • Imbalanced diet – Malnutrition, binge eating, skipping meals, eating processed, sugary or junk food.
  • Too much alcohol – Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, which disrupts the activities of the HPA axis responsible for regulating the stress response.
  • Sleep deprivation – Sleep disturbances ranging from irregular sleep patterns and lack of sleep to insomnia.
  • Environmental factors – Overexposure to pollutants such as mercury, asbestos, and Bisphenol A (BPA) creates toxic buildup.

Note: Vibrant 14-Day Detox is a functional food powder with ingredients that help flush out toxins from the body to support general health and well-being.

How Is Adrenal Fatigue Diagnosed?

Adrenal fatigue cannot be officially diagnosed as the medical community does not recognize it, and there are no specific tests to detect it.

To determine the underlying cause of excessive exhaustion and lack of energy, medical providers must assess multiple symptoms to rule out related health conditions.

However, according to alternative health providers, the following symptoms may indicate that you are suffering from adrenal fatigue:

  • Medical history – Discussing current symptoms, previous or existing chronic illnesses, as well as lifestyle habits.
  • Physical examination – Checking for any physical signs that may indicate another medical condition or confirm the presence of adrenal fatigue syndrome (e.g., discoloration, dehydration, weight fluctuations).
  • Blood tests – Assessing overall health and checking for relevant stress-response markers, such as cortisol levels or thyroid function.
  • Biometrics – Identifying key health measurements with biometric screening, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, etc.
  • Adrenal saliva test - Testing HPA-dysregulation with cortisol and DHEA levels.
  • Additional testing – Checking other related parameters via an insulin tolerance test (ITT) or cortisol stimulation test to rule out adrenal insufficiency.

Adrenal Fatigue Treatments

You can enhance stress resilience and alleviate the symptoms of adrenal fatigue with lifestyle modifications, supplementation, and nutritional therapies*. Consult a medical provider to customize your treatment for optimal results.

1. Diet

A well-balanced diet provides sustained energy, strengthens the immune system, fights inflammation, and helps manage the body’s stress response.

Aim for protein-packed whole foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Don’t skip meals and avoid consuming processed foods, refined sugar, and stimulants such as caffeine. This dietary approach helps the body cope with stress by meeting its nutritional needs, maintaining stable sugar levels, and curbing overeating.

Note: Learn how to increase your energy levels with 10 vitamins for an immune system boost.

2. Supplementation

Vitamin and mineral supplements reduce adrenal fatigue symptoms by targeting specific nutritional deficiencies. Supplements come in different forms: tablets/capsules, chewables, powders, or liquids.

The following vitamins and minerals directly impact adrenal function:

  • Vitamins B5, B6, and B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc

Supplements for hormone balancing may restore optimal hormone levels and address disrupted hormone production. You can speed up the recovery and increase energy levels with a complete hormone detox, which includes vitamin B12 injections.

Another potent hormone-balancing supplement is Osmosis MD Hormone Relief Elixir, recommended for fatigue and sleep disturbances. Finally, Relora’s plant-based supplement helps prevent stress eating, promotes satiety, and restores optimal levels of stress hormones.

Note: Learn about the uses, benefits, and side effects of vitamin B12 injections.

3. IV Therapy

IV therapy can be an effective treatment for adrenal fatigue. It outperforms oral supplementation because it bypasses the digestive system, which metabolizes some of the ingredients. There are many benefits of IV therapy that can enhance adrenal health, including:

  • Total rehydration
  • Boosted immune system
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Direct nutrient absorption
  • Increased energy
  • Reduced stress and anxiety

Vitamin B IV therapy supports adrenal health with eight B complex vitamins that aid in energy production by regulating digestion and maintaining optimal cortisol levels.

Vitamin C IV therapy can help boost the immune system and may alleviate fatigue, anxiety, and depression by providing total vitamin C absorption.

Note: For nutritional IV therapy in Phoenix, come to Vibrant Vitality Clinic.

4. Moderate Exercise

Add moderate to low-intensity workouts to your routine to improve adrenal health and secure satisfactory, long-term results. Avoid overtraining because it can propel the body into a catabolic state, in which muscles start breaking down to free up stored energy. Moreover, excessive exercise acts as a stressor and can worsen adrenal fatigue symptoms.

On the other hand, a lack of regular physical activity increases stress sensitivity, leading to dysregulated cortisol production and lower energy levels.

Engaging in low-impact training such as brisk walking, aerobic exercises, light cardio, yoga, or Pilates can support the adrenal glands without compromising their health.

5. Rest

Adrenal fatigue is characterized by a heightened stress response with few moments of relaxation and calm. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize rest to replenish depleted energy reserves and stabilize cortisol levels. Rest allows your adrenals to recalibrate, adapt to new stressors, and recover more quickly.

You can start by going to bed earlier to get more sleep and try a relaxing bedtime routine, such as journaling, doing crafts, or practicing meditation. Other ways to destress include getting a massage, enjoying an Epsom salt bath, or spending time in nature.

Note: Find out more adrenal fatigue treatment options to alleviate the symptoms of this condition.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products and treatments are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

How Long Does It Take to Recover?

Full recovery from adrenal fatigue may take weeks, months, or even years, depending on the severity of symptoms and other health issues. Adopting a healthier lifestyle with proper nutritional supplementation can speed up the process and support you on the recovery journey.

Consult a medical professional to rule out other medical conditions and personalize your adrenal fatigue treatment for the best outcome.


Long-term stress takes a serious toll on adrenal health. It floods the stress response system with too many stimuli, overwhelming the adrenal glands and resulting in a chronic state of exhaustion. Thankfully, there are ways to tackle adrenal fatigue, recharge, and restore lost energy.

Reach out to Vibrant Vitality Clinic staff for a private consultation and evaluation of your adrenal health.

Jenna Hilton
Jenna Hilton has been a practicing PA since 2009, specializing in Family, Internal Medicine and Medical Aesthetics. She attended Arizona State University where she received her Bachelor's Degree and graduated magna cum laude. She received her Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies from A.T. Still University.

Jenna has been injecting neurotoxin and dermal filler since 2013. She received certification as a Master Injector in 2017 through Empire Medical in Los Angeles, California. She is currently working on a Fellowship Program in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine through the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. Her special interests include use of PLLA, Ablative/Non ablative skin resurfacing, PDO threads, hormone therapy and nutritional therapies to improve cellular regeneration and medically supervised weight loss.

Jenna Hilton believes in a multi-factorial approach, considering internal factors that accelerate aging and disease development. She always enjoys teaching. She co-founded Vibrant EDU courses at Vibrant Skin Bar and regularly performs one-on-one training with fellow injectors. She teaches Aesthetic and Advanced Injectable Courses at National Laser Institute. She has been named Preceptor of the Year and is an Adjunct Faculty Member at Midwestern University. She was born in Iowa, and lives with her husband and three children in Phoenix, AZ.

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