Sunday, October 06, 2013

Stress and the Tired Mid-Life Woman

Are you in your forties or early fifties and wondering why you're always tired, cranky and fuzzy-brained?

I spent a lot of time blaming menopause for these symptoms, until I began to do some reading on the wonderful website of They have a ton of great articles dealing with women's health issues, and particularly issues that come to light at mid-life.

It's no secret that many women are overtired from trying to perform as SuperWoman, SuperMom or some combination of the two. Yes, we have more freedom to work in whatever jobs fulfill us, and attend school and marry who we like.....but more and more women are suffering from burnout and fatigue.  With peri-menopause adding hormonal changes to the picture, starting anywhere in your early forties (you may have 7-10 years of pre-menopausal symptoms till you are officially 'menopaused' at average age of 51), it's easy to be confused about the cause of your fatigue.

Recently I was diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue in the second phase, by a functional integrative health coach. Now my doctor does not believe such a thing as Adrenal fatigue even exists, so I went on a web search for articles to send her. My search led me back to

It may, in the beginning, look like a thyroid malfunction. My levels were low at my last blood test, so I'm being followed for hypothyroidism. But being more prone to finding natural solutions and working with a naturopath as well as my GP, I began to wonder if there were herbs I could take or dietary changes to make to help improve my health and overall well-being.  This led me to the health coach, who gave me a survey that revealed the adrenal fatigue, but also that I was a metabolic protein type, (I've had blood sugar problems for years), and needed to eat more meat protein to balance my system (as well as cutting sugar and carbs). I won't go into the list of supplements I'm taking, but suffice it to say, I am also supporting my liver and adrenal glands with herbal supplements.

Four months after implementing these changes, my energy levels are back up, I feel less tired and draggy, and my mood is distinctly calmer. Soon, we will retest the leaky gut and adrenals, and see how much improved my health is from the inside.

Bottom line is, don't blame all your tiredness and fatigue on menopause, nor on your age. If something is out of whack, if you're not sleeping, or sleeping too much, do some reading on this very informative website. Check with a health practitioner, and be open to learning something new about the way our bodies operate at mid-life.  We're going through changes that are not just hormonal, but it's all one package - our digestive enzymes are less efficient, we react more strongly to caffeine and alcohol, our libido is affected; if we have adrenal fatigue, we may be dragging our feet and even have signs of depression.

Unfortunately, not all medical doctors agree on this issue:

While adrenal fatigue is well recognized in other parts of the world, there has been some skepticism about it within conventional medical circles here in the US. Many physicians are quick to point to other health issues (depression, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism) that cause similar symptoms. We’ve found, though, that many times these issues are related to an underlying adrenal problem, and that treating them on their own with medications generally doesn’t solve them — but supporting adrenal function often does wonders.

Conventional testing only looks at extremes

Unfortunately, current tests that doctors are likely to recommend will look only at the extremes of adrenal imbalance that require immediate medical intervention: Addison’s disease, which occurs when the body’s cortisol production is severely deficient, and Cushing’s syndrome, in which the body produces excessively high levels of cortisol. 

Being stressed around the clock, working two jobs - one at work and one at home - raising teenagers, caring for elderly parents, dealing with hormonal changes - women are increasingly called on to be always on, 24/7. This puts us in 'fight or flight' mode, coping with physical and emotional stressors that drain our capacity to respond. If you suspect this might be the case for you, consult a health professional trained in Functional medicine, or begin by reading the articles on

Hope you find this information helpful,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So helpful, I could almost have written this myself word for word. Am 54, non smoker, moderate alcohol, healthy diet, not overweight. But am menopausal, have monster insomnia, on thyroxine ( apparently bloods normal), running between kids and ailing v elderly parents, temping, and seriously burned out ! Of course my adrenals are knackered. Wish to scream at the next make medic who dares to say menopause natural and not an illness..they would be crying inside a week, should nature serve them the menopause! A naturopath you say ? After years of struggling with fatigue, will try anything..