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Adrenal Fatigue in Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Is It Real?

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Updated July 01, 2014

Adrenal Fatigue in Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Is It Real?

Many people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are also diagnosed with, or come to believe they have, adrenal fatigue. Recently, information put out by The Hormone Foundation (which is part of the Endocrine Society) created a lot of stir by stating that adrenal fatigue is not a valid diagnosis. The case against adrenal fatigue appears in a PDF titled "Myth vs. Fact: Adrenal Fatigue."

The fact sheet states:

"The term 'adrenal fatigue' has been used to explain
a group of symptoms that are said to occur in people
who are under long-term mental, emotional, or physical
stress. Supporters of adrenal fatigue say that you may be
more likely to develop this condition if, for example, you
have a stressful job; are a shift worker, working student,
or single parent; or if you abuse alcohol or drugs."


"'Adrenal fatigue' is not a real medical condition.
There are no scientific facts to support the theory
that long-term mental, emotional, or physical stress
drains the adrenal glands and causes many common
symptoms."

Symptoms that are generally attributed to adrenal fatigue are nearly identical to those of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.  You can find a list here: Adrenal Fatigue.

The fact sheet says that tests for adrenal fatigue are not proven to work, and that special supplements marketed for adrenal fatigue are also unproven and could be dangerous.

It then goes on to talk about adrenal insufficiency, which it says is a real condition diagnosable by proven blood tests. Symptoms of adrenal insufficiency include:

  • Dehydration
  • Confusion
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Feeling weak
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood pressure

The sheet urges anyone with a diagnosis of adrenal fatigue to pursue other avenues, including adrenal insufficiency, depression, or obstructive sleep apnea. You can read the entire fact sheet here:

However, some people in the medical community contend that adrenal fatigue is a very valid diagnosis and a very real problem. Here's an interview with one of them from About.com Thyroid Guide Mary Shomon:

If you've been diagnosed with adrenal fatigue and haven't been evaluated for adrenal insufficiency, depression, sleep apnea, or other possible causes, you probably should be. That's just good health care. However, whether you believe it's a valid diagnosis is purely up to you. Treatment decisions are yours to make as well. If you want to take certain supplements, you should talk to your doctor about potential dangers and any testing that may need to be done to safeguard your health -- but the decision is up to you, whether or not your doctor agrees. The important thing is that you make an informed decision.

Have you been diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, or do you believe you have it? Do you think adrenal fatigue is an invalid diagnosis? Has treatment for adrenal fatigue helped you? Harmed you? Leave your comments below!

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