What is Adrenal Fatigue or Burn Out?

Adrenal fatigue or burn out is a common condition where your adrenal and stress system can no longer respond. So instead of being stressed, or overly-stressed, you simply become despondent and overwhelmed. 

Some have called it a nervous breakdown, others a melt down, but what ever the term you call it, you need to recognise the symptoms so it doesn't occur or occur again, and that you have an idea about the causes (so you don't incur the same issues again) and how to get out of it. 

In my experience recovery from burn out takes at least 3 months, but 6-12 months is more the norm. 


These vary depending at which stage of digression you are at. 

In my book, Chill Out or Burn Out, I discuss the 4 stages that I use in my clinic to identify and diagnose burn out. It is not a universally accepted staging system, just something I have found useful for myself and clients. 

In the first stage, people feel stressed. They are amped up, are struggling to relax and often have issues falling asleep at night. This can be short term or long term and can have many causes - work stress, relationships, finances etc.

The second state is when people are still stressed but starting to fatigue. I call this tired but wired. They feel irritated, are turning up to events etc but not really feeling the spark for life. They fall into bed exhausted but can't sleep because their mind is zipping around.

In the third stage the body starts to ache. This can be leg and shin pains, shoulder blade pains, headaches, and low energy levels. If you are in menopause, flushes are usually increased and weight can go on. It is hard to find the motivation to do anything and many people feel flat emotionally. 

In stage four, burn out, people are totally fatigued. They wake up tired, struggle to concentrate throughout the day, but can not sleep at night. Many need a nap during the day and still never feel refreshed. 

What causes adrenal fatigue or burn out?

There are many reasons and if it isn't obvious to you, chat to someone. Sometimes it is psychological: mortgage stress for example, job security, being over committed, not eating well, not exercising etc.

Then the body can miss key nutrients such as tyrosine, B6, B5 or be fighting off a bacterial, mould, viral attack. These can go on for years (eg Lymes disease).


This can be tricky as some medical doctors do not recognise burn out. Many will send "flat" people to a psychiatrist who will diagnose depression. 

Find someone that spends some time with you, a whollistic doctor or naturopath usually spend thirty minutes and more getting to know your story. My initial consult is one hour and I discover all sorts of clues and suggestion before even diagnosing burn out. 

In my clinic, I use a saliva hormone test, the patients symptoms and sometimes the hair test to diagnose what often become obvious - burn out.  


This varies depending on the cause, and often the cause will not be identified.

If I suspect an immune issue, I generally recommend (especially after conducting a hair test) vitamins to support the immune system, anti oxidants, rest, appropriate exercise and go from there. 

If it is due to life's circumstances, I prefer to spend longer sessions life coaching and if I don't feel equipped I refer on to a psychologist or back to the person's doctor.

My retreats are designed to help people understand the hidden ways burn out can affect a person, and how to fill up one's cup first.  A really important transition for many. 

More info

My latest book is on this topic and you can order a copy here.

Or this is a TV interview I did on the subject in November 2018.