Addison's disease or adrenal insufficiency is due to underactive adrenal glands associated with lack of hormones. Adrenal insufficiency may be acute or chronic . Symptoms of chronic adrenal insufficiency include low blood pressure, fatigue, weight loss, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, salt craving and low blood sugar. Skin and mucous membranes may show increased pigmentation. The loss of secondary sex characteristics is seen only in women with the disease. Acute adrenal insufficiency is a medical emergency and must be identified and promptly treated. The hallmarks of acute adrenal insufficiency are circulatory collapse with abdominal pain and low blood sugar.
A discussion on stress should include recognition of Dr. Hans Selye. His classic work on stress ( The Stress of Life , McGraw- Hill Book Co., .) and his many other publications report “that our various internal organs, especially the endocrine glands and the nervous system, help to adjust us to the constant changes which occur in and around us. He calls this adjustment the General Adaptation Syndrome. Selye concluded that the adrenals were the body’s prime reactors to stress. He stated that the adrenals “…are the only organs that do not shrink under stress; they thrive and enlarge. If you remove them, and subject an animal to stress it can’t live. But if you remove them, and then inject extract of cattle adrenals (cortex), stress resistance will vary in direct proportion to the amount of the injection, and even be put back to normal.” Likewise a person’s stress resistance will vary with the competence of his adrenals, but continually stressing the adrenals finally depletes them.
The adrenal glands work in conjunction with hormones and neurotransmitters. When there is depletion or malfunctioning in one of these areas there is usually a problem in the other areas, so it is recommended to evaluate these levels as well. Adrenal glands need balanced hormones and neurotransmitters to function properly and neurotransmitters are also impacted by hormone levels and adrenal glands. It's a reciprocal relationship and to restore balance to one, all need to be addressed. It is absolutely critical to restore balance to GABA and dopamine, , when dealing with adrenal fatigue.