Adrenal fatigue treatment can be confusing, challenging, and slow and without expert knowledge and support, your health may keep getting worse. In this article, we will cover the seven most common adrenal fatigue recovery mistakes people make. These mistakes are avoidable with the right guidance and knowledge.
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Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) is a result of chronic stress. Your adrenal glands are two glands that sit on top of the kidneys. They’re responsible for producing a number of different hormones, each of them essential for good health and daily functioning.
When you’re under stress, your adrenal glands are responsible for the production of cortisol, the so-called stress hormone. However, when your stress is chronic or ongoing, this can cause the adrenals to become overworked and fatigued, resulting in a range of symptoms and health problems. Adrenal Fatigue is the non-Addison’s form of adrenal dysfunction, a condition where the body’s stress response cannot keep up with life’s chronic stressors. This condition leads to a syndrome or collection of symptoms that can seriously affect your quality of life. It is often called a sub-clinical syndrome, a condition that stays “below the surface” of clinical detection.
AFS is more common than most people think and can cause symptoms like:
If you've suffered from a combination of any of these symptoms, it's very possible you have AFS. You may have even gone to your medical practitioner and been given medication for these symptoms, such as antidepressants or hormone replacement. But because these medications don't address the root cause, your symptoms will eventually worsen as AFS progresses.
Unfortunately, adrenal fatigue isn’t commonly recognised by the medical establishment. This is partly due to the fact that the symptoms associated with this disorder are so general and can be attributed to a range of health conditions.
The end result of this lack of recognition is that people with adrenal fatigue often find it difficult to get the recovery guidance that they need. For these people, going to doctors often results in incorrect or even harmful advice, such as being given medication to address the most obvious symptoms. This kind of advice and intervention can have the effect of causing more stress, worsening the underlying adrenal fatigue.
A more thorough understanding of the adrenal glands is essential for AFS recovery. Because the adrenal glands are part of a large network of organs and systems that fight stress, their dysregulation can create a cascade of problems throughout your body. This network is called the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response, and it is your body’s global response to stress.
Your NEM is composed of six circuits: The Hormone, the Bioenergetics, the Cardionomic, the Neuroaffect, the Inflammation, and the Detoxification circuits. However, even if only your adrenal glands are affected, it can bring dysregulation to all the other circuits. This is why AFS symptoms are so varied.
Even if you do identify AFS as the culprit, recovery is not always straightforward as making the wrong move can impact your entire NEM. That’s why you need the help of a medical practitioner who’s aware of adrenal fatigue and the most common recovery mistakes.
Avoiding mistakes in your adrenal fatigue recovery journey is essential to you reclaiming your health. Here are some common mistakes to avoid that can set back your AFS recovery efforts:
The use of gentle nutrients is central to adrenal fatigue recovery. Timed and dosed correctly, they can recharge your depleted nutritional stores and give you the energy you need to recover. Supplements used in adrenal fatigue recovery come in different categories:
You can take supplements to fill in nutritional gaps left over by your diet, or you can take them in therapeutic doses to give you a boost. However, using them incorrectly can also worsen your adrenal fatigue. Here’s some ideas to use supplements while avoiding their possible negative effects.
It doesn’t matter if your supplements are of the best quality; the bulk of your nutrients should still come from a good diet as this is the best way to get the nutrients your body needs in the right amounts and without side effects. It’s also important to note that supplements cannot counteract the negative effects of a bad diet, which is one of the most common causes of adrenal fatigue.
So, if you’re dedicated to adrenal fatigue recovery, then a diet that’s specific to this condition is absolutely essential. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid supplements completely though, instead you should:
Too many people assume that because supplements are ‘natural’, they’re also completely safe. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Even natural supplements can have medicinal effects. They can interact badly with other supplements or with medications that you’re taking. And some supplements just won’t be right for your body, no matter how good they might be for others. This means that you need to be careful to take the right kind of supplement for your specific condition and needs.
Many AFS sufferers take the shotgun approach to taking supplements. This is when you take a cocktail of many supplements, hoping to address lots of different symptoms and health issues. Under no circumstances should you just take a bunch of different supplements hoping some combination of them will do the trick.
The best-case scenario here is that if you do improve, you won’t know which supplements to credit. The worst-case scenario is that you’ll overload your Detoxification circuit and increase the toxic load on your body. This can lead to sensitivities, paradoxical reactions, and even adrenal crashes.
Even if you know the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of a supplement, it may not be what your body needs. Your health and your needs are specific to you. That’s why taking a standard dose may not be effective or good for you.
The optimum therapeutic dosage needs to be individualized. It is also important to keep in mind that your dosage can change as you progress through recovery.
How a supplement is delivered makes a big difference in how bio-available it is. You should research the best delivery system for the supplements you will use. That way, you can be sure your body will absorb them properly.
Because of all the above factors, supplements can be quite tricky to figure out. This is especially the case if you have different conditions as well as supplement sensitivities, which is common for those with more advanced AFS.
Gentle nutrients are some of the best adrenal fatigue recovery tools out there, so you shouldn’t avoid them altogether. Your best bet is to follow the guidance of a health professional with a lot of experience in AFS.
This brings us to the second mistake that many people make in adrenal fatigue recovery.
Although AFS is a very common condition, mainstream medicine does not recognize it yet. Most of our clients come to us after having gone to many doctors only to be told there’s nothing wrong with them. Others are given medications that only temporarily relieve symptoms. Some have spent months or years trying to follow their doctors’ orders, to no avail. Some have even tried alternative therapies with little to no success and spent thousands of dollars in the process.
Adrenal fatigue recovery is very individual-specific, and it needs to be adjusted along the way. So it requires a very experienced hand that knows the ins and outs of the journey as well as all the possible pitfalls.
Another problem we frequently see with conventional physicians is that they are specialized in one narrow focus area. Care is only on this area and not on the whole person. For example, if your symptoms are depression, brain fog, heart palpitations, and light-headedness, that will most likely require two or three different specialists if you go down the conventional path. A psychiatrist and a cardiologist, for example. On top of that, these specialists will most likely not coordinate with each other enough to link these symptoms.
After going through many tests and workups, you’ll probably end up with a bunch of different medications or approaches, none of which will help long term.
The excessive use of medications comes with the territory when you’re under the care of conventional medical practitioners. As well-intentioned as these physicians may be, the end result is an overload on your system. The following are some of the problems that you can face when taking prescription drugs:
The symptoms you’re experiencing with AFS should not be seen as the enemy. In fact, they are valuable messages your body is trying to send you. They are the clues you are given to help you figure out the root cause.
Suppressing these symptoms with medications will keep the underlying cause hidden, and it will also make it difficult for you to tell whether you’re improving or not. If you can’t see which way your symptoms are going, you won’t know if what you’re doing is helping.
The other problem with over-medicating is the amount of extra work you’re putting on your Detoxification circuit, especially your liver.
All medications have to be processed by your system, and the liver has to get rid of what’s left over. Unfortunately, this can be a serious problem if you have AFS, which often causes congestion in your liver and detoxification system. In adrenal fatigue recovery, one of the aims is to detoxify the system gently, so that your Detoxification circuit runs smoothly and your body’s toxic load decreases. This then allows inflammation to subside, which is one of the biggest stressors on your health.
But if you go down the conventional route, and you take a bunch of different medications or supplements for your symptoms, you will only add to the work your liver has to do. An already exhausted and congested liver won’t be able to keep up. Then your body’s toxic load will rise, creating more inflammation, and adding more stress on your adrenals.
This makes AFS progress even faster, and it creates other health problems as well.
And, finally, many medications have troubling side-effects. This means that the medications you take to address your symptoms may end up severely worsening your health. Some examples of this are:
These are just a couple of examples that show why it's often better not to take the risk with other medications unless you really need them.
Another mistake that can impede your adrenal fatigue recovery is the failure to recognize the role of paradoxical reactions.
A paradoxical reaction is when a therapy or supplement has the opposite effect of what it was meant to do. For example, some pain medications can actually increase pain as a paradoxical reaction. Paradoxical reactions are very common in more advanced stages of AFS when taking supplements or medications.
This is why adrenal fatigue recovery has to be individualized. A supplement that really helps one person can create a paradoxical reaction in another. A dosage that was good for you a couple of months ago may be something you react to with unusual sensitivity today. There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all in recovery.
Another complicating factor is that it sometimes takes a while for a paradoxical reaction to show up. You might be taking a supplement now that you won't react to until a few weeks or months after stopping. At other times, you might react immediately to a new supplement. In some cases, a supplement may initially give you a boost only to be followed by a crash.
These intricacies of recovery are another reason you need to follow the guidance of an experienced professional when taking supplements.
Knowing the signs of paradoxical reactions can help you look out for them and report them to your health professional so you can adjust your dosage or change your supplement altogether. Some common signs of a paradoxical reaction are:
Although AFS is the result of the adrenals overworking and then becoming exhausted, the effects of this condition are not limited to the adrenals.
That’s because the adrenals are only one component of the NEM’s Hormone circuit, which is linked with every other NEM circuit. And hormones, like cortisol, affect the entire body, which means that issues in this circuit can affect the whole body as well.
The adrenals are part of the triad of the Hormone circuit, so their health also affects the other two components. For example, in women, this triad forms the ovarian-adrenal-thyroid (OAT) axis. It’s also why you see so many AFS symptoms related to the reproductive system, such as PMS, low libido, and infertility.
Not recognizing the links between the different organs and systems involved will make adrenal fatigue recovery slower and more challenging. And recognizing them will make it easier and quicker.
When you improve the state of one of the components, the adrenals, for example, it will affect the other two components. That’s why we tell our female clients that in order to get their reproductive health back on track, they should address their adrenal fatigue. The same goes for clients that have thyroid issues.
The next common adrenal fatigue recovery mistake is relying too much on lab testing. Providers sometimes want to test for thyroid function, hormone function, and adrenal cortisol testing through the blood. But often times these tests return normal, leaving one more confused as to what the root cause could be. Several tests give possible indications of AFS, such as testing for salivary cortisol, DHEA, progesterone, testosterone, and estradiol. But test results alone are not enough.
There are several reasons for this, including:
That’s why, in our opinion, the signs and symptoms your body is showing you are a better gauge of AFS. These, plus your medical history, can give an experienced clinician all the information needed.
Last but not least, a big adrenal fatigue recovery mistake is not having a comprehensive recovery program in place. If you don’t take into account your body, mind, lifestyle, and environment when composing your recovery program, it won’t work properly.
A good program will include:
Following these steps under guidance will give you dramatic results without the side-effects of medications.
So, now that we’ve talked about what not to do to recover from adrenal fatigue, what is the right path to recovery? Well, it starts with finding the right medical practitioner, one who’s aware of adrenal fatigue. Here’s how they’ll help you determine if you have adrenal fatigue:
Once it’s been determined that you have adrenal fatigue, your doctor will then work with you to create your personalised adrenal fatigue recovery plan. This will probably include:
A poor diet is a key cause of adrenal fatigue. For recovery, you’ll need a diet that gives your body everything it needs to function correctly and to heal. This includes lots of:
Which supplements you need to take when you have adrenal fatigue will depend on your condition and your body’s tolerance. Some of the most common and helpful supplements for adrenal fatigue are:
However, these supplements must always be used cautiously and with the help of an experienced provider in order to ensure right dosage, delivery, and timing.
Reducing stress as much as possible is absolutely pivotal to your adrenal fatigue recovery. However, this isn’t always easy as you may have to make lifestyle changes such as:
And while you’re making these changes, you will also need to be careful to do so in such a way that you don’t cause more stress. That’s where your doctor can be a valuable ally in this process.
Adrenal fatigue recovery can be complicated if you try to do it alone. It can also backfire if you follow a treatment plan given by a health professional not experienced in the condition. There are many recovery mistakes you need to watch out for, and the most common of these are outlined above.
But one way to ensure you avoid all of these mistakes and get the best results in the quickest way is to follow a comprehensive adrenal fatigue recovery plan that’s customized to your individual state and needs.
To talk to us about adrenal fatigue and what you need to find the best path to your recovery, contact our team on +1 (626) 571-1234 or click here.
» Read our complete long-read article on 7 Adrenal Fatigue recovery mistakes
» Adrenal Fatigue FAQs
» Take our 3-minute test to see if you may have Adrenal Fatigue
Allen, Loyd V Jr, Adrenal Fatigue, International Journal of Pharmaceutical Compounding, vol. 17, no. 1, 2013, pp. 39-44.
Huecker, Martin R, Bhutta, Beenish S., & Dominique, Elvita, Adrenal Insufficiency, StatPearls Publishing, 2023.
Tirabassi, Giacomo., et al. Adrenal disorders: Is there Any role for vitamin D? Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders, vol. 18, no. 3, 2017, pp. 355-362.
There are many adrenal fatigue recovery mistakes that you can make. But from what we’ve seen over the years, there are seven that are the most common. Avoiding them can make your recovery journey much smoother and quicker. Find out what they are so you can prepare.