Chronic Stress Treatment

If you are suffering from the symptoms of Chronic Stress, you are not alone. Experts believe more than half of North Americans suffer from adrenal exhaustion due to long-term stress. Most are not getting the help they need, mainly because medical doctors are not trained to address this condition. (In fact many doctors dispute the existence of adrenal fatigue).

Many people on anti-depressants are not getting better and the question needs to be asked, Why? If clinical depression is present, the wrong type or dose of medication may be responsible.
Read more about medications

But for many people, the problem is not a biological brain illness; it's adrenal fatigue caused by chronic stress.

Chronic stress is not just a matter of a way-too-busy schedule at work or home. It also includes nutrition and lifestyle. Despite overwhelming evidence linking most known diseases to poor nutrition, only 25% of medical schools in the United States offer a single course on nutrition. Another 50% offer far less than the 25 hours or instruction on nutrition recommended by the National Academy of Sciences.

The American National Cancer Institute states: “Serious diseases that are linked to what we eat kill an estimated three out of four Americans each year. These diseases include heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some types of cancer, and diabetes.”

Adrenal fatigue is no exception. “You are what you eat” is a truism for a reason. It’s true. Overcoming depression and anxiety caused by chronic stress will not happen overnight. But the benefits far outweigh the price of commitment and discipline.

Can I get a blood test for adrenal fatigue?

No. Adrenal fatigue is not recognized by most medical doctors, unless cortisol levels drop so low that they meet the diagnostic criteria for Addison’s disease (extremely low coritosol or adrenal failure), a rare and chronic endocrine disorder.

Adrenal Fatigue Healing Strategies

For some people, intense chronic stress may induce enough chemical imbalance in the brain to benefit from a temporary course of anti-depressant medication. But recovery requires dealing with the lifestyle choices that triggered the imbalance.

If you are suffering the symptoms of depression, see your medical doctor for a complete exam. Your doctor may diagnose you with clinical depression. The information on this website is not intended to replace the advice of a medical doctor.

The strategies provided here work synergistically. For example, eating lots of junk food and sugars will cancel out the benefits of adding nutritious food choices.

Think of your treatment plan as a recipe. Each strategy is one ingredient in the recipe. If you leave out one ingredient, you won’t get the result you are hoping for.

Deal with your schedule

If your body and brain are exhausted by a too-busy lifestyle, do something about it. No-one can make that choice for you. If you have trouble setting boundaries, I recommend you read Boundaries, an excellent book by Henry Cloud. Remember that you can't help others you are sick, exhausted and emotionally drained.

If you have reached Stage 3 of adrenal fatigue, you will need several weeks rest to recuperate. If you can’t make that happen in the near future, take immediate action to do whatever you can. At minimum, take one full day each week disconnecting from all your electronic devices and doing only those things that nurture you. It might be a walk in the park, hiking with a friend, watching old movies with your spouse or sleeping all day-- whatever fuels your body and soul. And make a commitment to taking an extended rest in the future by setting those dates in your calendar -- now!

Cut way back on stimulants

Many people with adrenal fatigue crave stimulants. But they worsen your condition by exerting additional stress on the adrenal glands. If you drink several cups of coffee (or pop, black tea or energy drinks containing caffeine), cut back to one cup or glass a day.

Stay away from diet pills. And don’t be fooled by natural weight reduction products. If they contain a stimulant (even a natural stimulant), they will create just as much stress on your already-taxed body as a prescription or over- the-counter drugs.

Eat right for your body and brain

Poor eating habits affect mood and energy far more than many people realize, especially as we get older. The biggest culprit is sugar. Excess sugar and carbohydrates triggers fluctuating sugar and insulin levels which affect your emotions, deplete energy, aggravate sleep problems and hinder mental sharpness and concentration.

Eliminate or cut way back on junk food. Potato chips, snack foods, candy, fried fast food and soft drinks might taste great, but they are loaded with toxins. Also, junk food stimulates cravings for additional sugar and junk food.

Women are more susceptible to the emotional effects of diet because of the added influence of fluctuating hormones. Also, women are more likely than men to skip meals or go on extreme diets to lose weight. This adds even more stress to the adrenal and pituitary glands, worsening depressed moods and feelings of being overwhelmed or stressed out.

Avoid or cut way back on simple carbohydrates (sugars and anything made with white flour). Also avoid large portions of high-glycemic foods including bread products, starches and some fruits. Simple carbohydrates break down quickly, releasing high levels of sugar and insulin in the blood stream. The effect is the same as eating pure sugar. Educate yourself about healthy nutrition and the glycemic index of foods..

Eat a balanced diet consisting of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit. Be sure to eat protein at each meal, especially at breakfast. By switching to vegetables, fruits and proteins, and moderate servings of high fiber complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat bread, your blood sugar will begin to stabilize. Over time, this will go a long way towards replenishing adrenal health (and overall health).

Use Dietary Supplements

Supplements provide little benefit if you are not eating a healthy, balanced diet. With that said, today's foods contain a fraction of the vitamins and minerals they provided even a century earlier. Natural health practitioners recommend the following as a basic program for replenishing the adrenals and mitigating the effects of chronic stress:

-Comprehensive multi-vitamin/mineral
-Vitamin B Complex. Take a strong formula for optimizing brain and adrenal health. Ask a nutritional doctor or doctor of naturepathic medicine for recommendations.
-Vitamin C – minimum 1000 mg/ day
-Omega 3-fish oil – 2000 mg daily

This is by no means a comprehensive list of supplements or solutions. I recommend you work with a nutritionist or natural health practitioner to develop a customized treatment program.

Consider herbal depression treatments

Some herbal supplements have proven effective for treating mild depression. The most popular natural products are St. John’s Wort, SAMe and 5-HTP. Of these, studies support St. John’s Wort as most effective. Keep in mind that just because something is natural does not mean it is necessarily safe. St. John’s Wort, for example, interacts with some oral contraceptives and several anti-depressants. If you are taking any prescription medicine, consult with your medical doctor prior to taking any herbal treatments. Also, while St. John's Wort has helped many people with mild depression, it does not help major depression.


Exercise is usually the last thing you feel like doing when you are depressed. But it is essential for overall health as well as stabilizing your moods. Exercise increases oxygen flow to the brain and stimulates the release of “feel good” endorphins and neurotransmitters. Exercise is also a fantastic way of releasing everyday physical, emotional and mental stresses.

A special report published by the Harvard Medical School showed that fast walking for about 35 minutes a day five times a week or 60 minutes a day three times a week had a significant influence on mild to moderate depressed moods. Walking fast for only 15 minutes a day five times a week or doing stretching exercises three times a week did not help much.
Read the Harvard Report

Practice Good Sleep Habits

Emotional health and sleep are inextricably linked. The first step to better sleep is to develop good sleep hygiene. Most sleep experts agree on the following tips:

-Create a schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends.
-Don’t go to bed too hungry or too full. Avoid or cut way back on caffeine, and avoid alcohol. Alcohol may help you get to sleep, but it disrupts sleep later in the night and you will not wake up rested.
-Create a bedtime ritual. This will train your brain and body that it is time to go to sleep. Don’t watch action TV such as suspense or news shows before going to bed, or read books with suspense or upsetting topics. Try reading a relaxing book or magazine or listen to relaxing music. Prayer and meditation on Bible verses and extremely calming.
-Create a relaxing sleep environment. Don’t bring work files, your IPAD or other devices that may remind you of work into the bedroom. Darken the room as much as possible. You may want to use ear plugs. Some people find that creating “white noise” with a fan is helpful.

Other strategies that help sleep are already included in this section: daily exercise, proper nutrition, and effective stress management.

If you still can’t sleep, and have been applying the other strategies in this section, see your medical doctor for a complete medical exam. Clinical depression and other medical illness disupt sleep. Avoid sleeping pills except for very short-term use -- long-term use can disrupt brain chemistry. Most sleeping pills and all anxiety medications will worsen depression over time.

Nurture Positive Relationships

Research has found that having a strong social support network can delay the brain’s aging process. Emotional bonding also enhances your brain’s limbic system, one of the sections of the brain involved with depressed moods. .

Relational conflict or spending too much time with negative people is bad for your emotional health. Your adrenalin and cortisol levels increase, adding more stress to your adrenal system and worsening depressed and anxious moods.

Focus on building positive, affirming relationships and as much as possible, avoid spending too much time with negative people.

Read more about clinical depression
Back to non-clinical depression introduction




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