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What Is Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal Fatigue permeates society. It affects the majority of us at some point in our lives, if only temporarily. Knowing how it occurs can help you avoid being a victim to its symptoms.


Dr. Andrew Neville


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Adrenal Fatigue Is the Underlying Cause of Most Disease

Adrenal Fatigue causes, contributes to, and is associated with almost every major illness today.

That’s a bold statement, I know.

First, it’s important to understand that “Adrenal Fatigue” involves so much more than the adrenals and fatigue, because this condition is truly a complete Stress Response System Dysfunction (SRD).

When dysfunctional, the Stress Response System is at the root of a broad range of illnesses and disorders.

Rather than irresponsibly and incorrectly treating these illnesses and disorders as symptoms in and of themselves, they should be used as an indicator of a deeper dysfunction.

What Exactly Is Adrenal Fatigue? by Dr. Andrew Neville

The Most Common Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

From cancer and diabetes to allergies and cardiovascular disease, our stress hormones have pervasive effects on the body that are morbidly detrimental if left unchecked.

Stress Response Dysfunction is at the root of a broad range of illnesses.

Major symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

  • Insomnia and Frequent Waking
  • Depression
  • Anxiety or feeling “Wired and Tired”
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Body-wide pain and Fibromyalgia

Secondary illnesses attributed to Adrenal Fatigue

  • IBS or Leaky Gut Syndrome
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Immune weakness and frequent illness
  • Recurring viral infections such as EBV

Hallmarks of Stress Response System Dysfunction

  • Low blood pressure and lightheadedness
  • Brain fog and decline in cognitive function
  • Weight gain (or unexpected weight loss)
  • Persistent low-grade fever
  • Frequent colds and sore throats

Modern medicine is exceptional for trauma care and surgery. It is not, however, adept at treating the underlying cause of these symptoms.

The Physiology of Adrenal Fatigue

(Bear with me through a bit of the dry science stuff. I’ll be quick!)

To understand this condition, we need first to understand the role of the Stress Response System, which includes the adrenal glands. The Stress Response System includes the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis (HPA Axis), the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), and other higher brain centers.

This system responds to stress and has two arms:  the sympathetic arm, also called “fight or flight,” and the parasympathetic arm, or “rest and digest” arm. I refer to this balance (or imbalance) as the body’s seesaw of physiology.

Allopathic medicine is not adept at treating the underlying cause of disease.

The fight-or-flight process is crucial and lifesaving under the right circumstances. If we did not have these instincts and were not so efficient at utilizing this stress response, humans would not be here today.

But in modern society, we activate this response too often and for too long. We are no longer running from lions, of course; we are instead fighting small and large stressors all the time. Anything from traffic to the loss of a loved one are stressors. Toxins, technology, the economy, information overload, overscheduling, our family and coworkers, study, worry, depression, and fear all rank high too.

The chronic, perpetual activation of this fight-or-flight system leads to overproduction of stress hormones, and this creates a pattern of upregulation, decreased stress tolerance, and possibly the exhaustion of the entire Stress Response System, aka Adrenal Fatigue.

Most of Us Will Have Adrenal Fatigue in Our Lifetime

Adrenal Fatigue and Stress Response Dysfunction permeate society and affect the majority of us at some point in our lives, if only temporarily.

People develop Adrenal Fatigue due to a combination of genetic susceptibility and stress over time.

A multidisciplinary and multifactorial approach to healing helps people get their lives back from Adrenal Fatigue. 

Some people have a tremendous genetic capacity for stress. These tend to be the people who, in their nineties, continue to smoke and drink all in good health. They will avoid Adrenal Fatigue for the most part, unless they suffer significant amounts of trauma, tragedy, or chronic perpetual stress, enough to overwhelm even their large capacity.

The other extreme are those that were born with a very weak stress response system, or “weak adrenals.” They have a low capacity for stress and have since birth.

Most of us are in the middle, because we have a some genetic weakness as well as chronic stress. The combination contributes to a breakdown of the stress response system, and eventually, this dysfunction causes a multitude of symptoms that range from pesky to debilitating.

Myths About Adrenal Fatigue

I want to dispel some very basic myths about Adrenal Fatigue and Stress Response Dysfunction (SRD) that are harming people every day. I see these mistruths out there all the time, and it upsets me because it’s leading people to unnecessary hopelessness. 

Myth #1 There is no such thing as “Adrenal Fatigue.”

We’ve been studying this condition for over 40 years, and we were writing about its symptoms before it even had its name. It’s very real. Ask anyone who’s had it and healed from it. 

While it’s true that you won’t find an ICD-9 medical code for Adrenal Fatigue, it exists as a condition. Because conventional medicine focuses on treating only symptoms, no one can seem to agree about what to call or do with Adrenal Fatigue’s common group of symptoms as a whole. 

So when you read Adrenal Fatigue is “not real,” think of the hundreds of thousands of patients who have healed from more or less the same set of symptoms using the same proven protocol. 

Myth #2 There is no known effective treatment for Adrenal Fatigue.

This is an absolute untruth as well. If you know the cause, you can work on a treatment. 

Mainstream medicine isn’t looking for root causes. They are looking to mask symptoms using band-aid solutions, such as analgesics, hormone replacement, and (often unnecessary) surgery.

Since conventional medicine doesn’t understand or believe in the condition as a whole—or the cause of the condition—then of course they’re not looking for a treatment for the condition. 

Adrenal Fatigue, simply put, is a conglomeration of symptoms. Fatigue, body-wide pain, insomnia, depression and anxiety are some of the most common. Reproductive and thyroid hormone disorders, digestive dysfunction, and immune weakness are often present, too. 

It is sometimes a tricky condition to treat, but with a holistic, multidisciplinary, and multifactorial approach, people get their lives back. 

Myth #3 Adrenal Fatigue is a lifelong condition. 

Adrenal Fatigue does not have to be a lifelong issue. People get better. It’s a matter of knowing your body, its limitations, and managing your health within those parameters. 


Dr. Andrew Neville


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the severity of your symptoms and how to treat them.

Dr. Neville’s assessment tool will provide you with clarity on the severity of your symptoms and how to treat them.

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