Why HELLLOO adrenals! How are you feeling today?
Do you know how your adrenals are feeling? Do you know what your adrenals are or what they do? Adrenals, can be another part of the depression puzzle. Let me tell you, depression can be a big puzzle, but as we know there is a pattern and solution to all lifes conundrums, so be patient.
Our adrenal glands sit atop our kidneys and help us to modulate stress. During those times of ‘fight, flight or freeze’, situations – like when you’re at work and your boss walks up behind you expecting you to have a project completed, but you’re perusing your facebook page instead – is when your adrenals are hard at work , producing hormones to lower your stress levels.
The main adrenal hormones are adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline is the hormone which works for short term stress such as fight or flight responses, while cortisol is elevated during long term stress. Like all organs and hormones in your body, they are supported by specific nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, certain B vitamins and minerals. Yep, so although are world is plagued with convenient foods that comes in fast food cups and wrappers, boxes, cartons and convenient microwavable packages, the nutrients we need still come from whole foods like grains, greens and fruit. Do you see a theme building here? I hope so!
It also must be mentioned that stress is not just work related. Stress can be due to unresolved emotions or emotional trauma, there is environmental stress from the pollutants in our air and water, and even stress on our body from foods which we consume. The more we consume foods which are refined and devoid of nutrients it puts stress on our body as it doesn’t have the fuel it needs to run at an optimal level. For instance, (warning, this is not an ecologically friendly example) say you have a Ferrari. Its shiny red, fast and roars to life when you start the engine. What would happen if you didn’t give it premium gas so it runs efficiently, or didn’t make sure it had adequate oil or didn’t take it for tune ups to make sure it was running as efficiently as possible? If you haven’t figured it out already, your body is a Ferrari. You want to put the best possible foods (not gasoline) into your system so you feel and function at your most optimum potential.
Okay, so how does this all relate to depression and mental illness? Take a look-see:
Alarm Stage: Is when bursts of adrenal hormones are released in response to a stressor. This results in a typical ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response.
Resistance Stage: The body is using high cortisol levels which help the body resist the stressor over a longer period of time. This stage can increase the risk of developing stress related diseases or put other organs out of balance. If cortisol levels remain elevated, symptoms may include feeling tired but wired, difficulty sleeping and anxiety.
Exhaustion stage: The adrenal glands are largely depleted from continuously producing too much cortisol. Symptoms may include fatigue, food allergies, low blood sugar and hypoglycemia (hello mood swings), burned out feeling, depression and low sex drive. In extreme cases, extreme fear and suicidal tendencies may be present.
What stage are you in? Now do you want to look after your adrenals?