If the initial stress from Phase 1 continues, or if additional stressors are added, your adrenal glands are no longer capable of meeting the demands of the amount of cortisol needed to continue the fight or flight response. This is known as the Resistance Phase of Adrenal Fatigue.
The tell-tale sign that you are entrenched in this phase is that you are dependent on caffeine to get you through your day.
Typically, you can still carry on through your normal daily routine, but the fatigue is more pronounced, especially first thing in the morning and in the mid-afternoon. Insomnia is more prevalent, and you may find yourself waking at all hours of the night.
You become increasingly irritable and might lash out in anger over relatively minor things. You may find yourself snapping at loved ones and have little tolerance when your kids act up or play rambunctiously. Everyone at work is getting on your last nerve, and you feel overwhelmed.
You may notice an additional five to ten or more pounds around your midsection, even despite exercising and dieting. You’re still craving carbs and your willpower is low. Your normal daily activities are taking more time to accomplish, and you just don’t have the time to exercise much anymore — and you really don’t feel like doing it anyway. When you do manage to force yourself to exercise, it does seem to help, but it just takes so much energy just to get your body moving, and your motivation is low.
The thyroid gland is usually affected in Phase 2, as it must take up the slack and compensate for what your adrenal glands are not able to do. Your hands and feet may be cold as your circulation is affected, and your hair may be starting to thin or fall out.
It’s also probable that you are not producing adequate levels of norepinephrine and epinephrine, which are crucial for energy and metabolism. Your brain seems to be operating in a murky fog, and headaches can be more frequent.
As your other hormones get out of balance, PMS and irregular menstrual cycles become noticeable, and your sex drive is nowhere to be found.
You may not be able to tolerate alcohol as you used to in the past as your liver becomes sluggish in its ability to detoxify.
As neurotransmitters become imbalanced, your drive and ambition start to wane as well, and you are not able to accomplish what you normally could at work. Your motivation to try new things or excel at your job drops, and you find yourself just trying to get through the day. You’re waking up with aches and pains that linger. As Phase 2 continues, you may find yourself in the throws of depression or anxiety.
In this phase many people seek help from a doctor, and if the typical labs are tested — which don’t include adrenal gland hormones — are in “normal” range, your physician may not be able to explain why you feel so terrible.
Adrenal gland fatigue is intricately tied to our other energy systems, so changes in blood sugar values may show up on your labs. Your doctor may find that you are insulin resistant or prediabetic. Your cholesterol may creep up as your thyroid function drops. Your other hormones will start to become imbalanced as well.
You may describe the aches and pains throughout your body to your doctor and be diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
Sometimes thyroid hormone and other hormone therapies (bio-identical or synthetic), as well as antidepressants may be prescribed. These can help, but typically these treatments fail to offer full relief or recovery as the underlying issue is not being properly addressed. Many times there are side effects to the prescribed medications that add insult to injury, and stress your system further.
Sadly, adrenal fatigue is not recognized as a “medical condition,”so patients rarely get the true help they need. Taking the wrong nutritional supplements can make the situation worse as well. And if you keep going on this path, you could find yourself in Phase 3 of Adrenal Fatigue.