Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms - How To Tell If You've Got Them - Vesna Hrsto

Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms – How To Tell If You’ve Got Them

The reason why I talk about adrenal fatigue symptoms is because it's part of my story, it's part of my journey, as well.

When I started in my first Naturopathic Clinic, this is me many, many years ago. It was my first clinic. I was really young. I was only 21 and running my own business. I was busy. I had a lot of expectations on myself. I was really driven, and I started, slowly but surely, to feel very tired.


I felt very anxious and stressed, and I just figured that made sense because I was running my own business and that was stressful and I had things to worry about.

I had become so tired though. I got to the point where I couldn't go through the day without having a nap. I would try and find a massage table in the clinic that someone wasn't using, and I would have a nap during the day. That's how bad I got. Very stressed. Very on edge.

Felt kind of depressed towards the end there, and I gained a lot of weight. I gained about 10 kilos. You can't really see all of it there, but you can kind of see it in my face a little bit, you know, a bit swollen.

My libido disappeared. I had lots of digestive problems. I looked like I was about six months pregnant, and I wasn't, because my belly was so bloated all the time.

Being a Naturopath I thought I would be able to nip this in the bud really easily, right? I had the tools. I had the know how. I had the dispensaries. I had everything. So I took different supplements. Took different herbal medicines. I changed my diet. I exercised more. I meditated. I did really restrictive and rigid things, tried a lot of things, and nothing made a difference.

So I went to see other practitioners, other Naturopaths. I went to see Chinese herbal medicine doctors. I went to a GP. I went to a specialist. I really tried lots of different things, because this was over a five year period. All it did was make me worse. I didn't feel any better. I just felt more anxious. I felt more stressed. I was ignoring my very obvious adrenal fatigue symptoms.

I felt like I had anxiety around food because I just couldn't eat stuff. I was gaining all this weight and felt like I was going to just get out of control. It was freaking me out. But I got to the point where it was just having this ripple effect in my life.

So I wasn't a happy person to be around. I didn't feel myself. My life had just shrunk, right? I wasn't going out with my friends anymore. I was relatively newly married and I didn't have a libido, so you can imagine how that impacted my marriage.

I wasn't loving my business anymore. I was just feeling drained with everything that I was doing. Just wasn't myself at all.

And everyone pretty much told me… When I tried all these things to fix myself, everyone just said this is life, this is what happens when you get older. I was only 25! So definitely not getting older, but I started to believe them because I just felt like maybe this is life, maybe this is life in business, or maybe this life in whatever; this is just how it is, because I couldn't do anything about it.

Then my a-ha moment, which I'd like to say is something that I discovered, but it's not. It's something that happened to me, and through this, I was able to see what was really going on for me.

Basically, it was the end of my marriage. I was unhappy in my relationship. And I didn't realise how unhappy, or how my unhappiness was affecting my body and causing all the adrenal fatigue symptoms I'd been pretending weren't there.

adrenal fatigue symptoms

Basically what had happened was literally a week after separating from my husband, the digestive symptoms that I had been struggling with for five years completely disappeared.

I went from having this six-month bloated belly, not being able to eat lots of foods (seriously, an food tolerance test I had was alarming), to being able to eat anything. It was amazing for me, because I had struggled with that for so long, and all of a sudden that symptom disappeared. Then my anxiety fell away. Then my weight fell off. I felt so much happier. I felt so much more vital. I share this story not to tell you to leave your partners.

This is not about running away from your life, or your partner, or work, or anything like that.

It's just to show you that the ability that stress has on our body to actually shut down our self-healing mechanisms, or the way that our body heals.

Even though I was doing all the right things, because that underlying stress was there the things that I was doing was like the foot on the gas and the brake at the same time. I just wasn't getting anywhere with it. If anything, I was slowly getting worse.

Until that stress lifted from my body, I couldn't heal. And that's really what I want to share with you is the impact of stress on your body, on your healing, what's keeping you stuck, what's making you sick, what's making you feel the way that you do. How to recognise those adrenal fatigue symptoms.

For me, it basically changed my life. It gave me a lot more freedom; my life expanded. I now run a business where I can do it from anywhere in the world, which was always my dream. I've travelled. I've lived overseas. I've taken my business with me on the road. I've just had so many new experiences and adventures from getting my energy back, getting my mojo back, feeling my best self and acknowledging and dealing with those adrenal fatigue symptoms. I want to share that way with you today, and it's what I take my clients through as well. So I really want you to be able to walk away and see that this is possible for you.

I'm going to give you some quick strategies on how you can change your energy and your mood very, very quickly in seven days.

Are you experiencing any of these adrenal fatigue symptoms?

Let's double check that you're in the right place.

Do you feel tired and wired?
Do you find that you struggle to get up in the morning?
Do you find that you need a couple of coffees to get going?

Do yo feel more tired when you wake then when you went to bed?

Weight Gain

Maybe you find that your weight has crept up. Maybe you find that it's not crept up, but it's just kind of jumped on you overnight.

Regardless of what you do, how much exercise you do, how strict your diet, it doesn't really change. It just keeps staying the same, or it slowly goes up.

Maybe you notice a lot more weight around the belly, the muffin top, around the midsection. And also that bloating that I talked about with my stuff, which is feeling like you're about six

months pregnant and you're not. It's really frustrating and one of the biggest adrenal fatigue symptoms.

Mood changes?

Do you have more bad days than good days?

Do you feel like it takes you a while to recover?

Like if you have something bad happen that it kind of it sets you back for the day or for the week?

Do you find your mood goes up and down?
Can you feel irritable?
Can you feel bitchy? Can you feel down?
Can you feel depressed? And kind of be up and down throughout the week or through the day?

Do you find that your snapping at the ones that you love? Do you feel like your patience is going? Your tolerance is not there anymore? Maybe you get road rage. Maybe you don't want to wait in the line in the shopping centre, whatever it is, but that tolerance or that resilience isn't there.

Could you go all day without eating, and then come home and eat the entire pantry and not be satisfied?

Or do you find that you constantly have to graze throughout the day? Do you find that it's the sweet stuff? Do you need the coffee with sugar or a biscuit? Do you need the carbohydrate stuff or the salty things?

Lots of cravings and just an appetite that's not satisfied; you never feel like you've had enough.

Brain fog?

Brain fog and what I call SOS, which is shiny object syndrome.

So brain fog is when you don't have that level of concentration and that focus. You really want to get something done, but you end up not being able to be fully engaged with that piece of work, so you end up starting something else.

Then you're into that thing, and you don't get that finished because you start something else, and then you start something else. You're not being very productive, and it's super frustrating because you're trying lots of different things, but you're not getting anything completed. That's a big complaint I hear from women.

adrenal fatigue symptoms

Low libido, no bedroom mojo?

This one was definitely me. I have women say they would rather do the dishes or clean the floor than have sex. That's no libido. And that's not a sign of health. So that was a massive one for me. And I was really young and newly married, so it's definitely a symptom of something underlying.

And more adrenal fatigue symptoms like hair loss, irritable bowel, like going from constipation to diarrhea, or getting the digestive problems or gut pain; skin breakouts, acne, muscle tension. Some women will say to me they feel like they're 100 years old the way they kind of drag themselves around because there is so much tension in their body.

And I'm sure that if you've felt these symptoms for any length of time that you have tried different diets, different supplements, different programs or exercise regimes in order to feel better. But you've not seen the long-term results. So if you stop taking the supplements you feel the same, or you take the supplements for a while and you don't get the same effect from it anymore.

How your adrenal fatigue symptoms are holding your energy and mood hostage and impacting your whole outlook on life

I really want to show you how it's not your day-to-day demands that are causing you to feel the way that you do; it's actually adrenal fatigue symptoms that are driving you nuts with stress and overwhelm and anxiety and insecurities and stopping you from living your best life.

The basic fact is the more you do, the more you can do when you're healthy.

So.. the more we do, the more we can do.

So you've probably noticed those days when you're busy, but super productive you actually feel really fuelled by your work. You feel like you're on fire, when you're getting stuff done and completed, and it feels really good. So you feel energized by your work, which is how it should be.

The days that you're stressed, you're anxious, you're rushing, you're overwhelmed, those are the days that you're going to feel drained. Those are the days that you're going to feel tired, and you drag yourself around.

To do stuff you have to really use your willpower to push yourself through.

And it's important to realize that it's adrenal imbalances and not your day-to-day demands because otherwise, we end up shrinking our life.

important to realize it's adrenal imbalances and not your day-to-day demands because otherwise, we end up shrinking our life and feel worse

We end up not doing the things that we love or used to love doing.

I see women who will work less, like go part-time at work, because they can't handle it. They say no to opportunities, stop seeing the people they would normally see, doing the things they would normally do.

Shrinking your life because you feel like it's coming from outside demands when it's not; it's actually an inner experience.


First of all, I want to take you through some mythbusters. This is what I hear all the time, and what doctors have told women, and what I've heard from other women, etc.

You don't feel like this because you're getting older.

It's not because you need to go paleo, ketogenic, or cut out carbohydrates.

It's not because you don't exercise enough.

It's not because you have a deficiency of antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication, like Xanax, Zoloft, or Prozac.

It's definitely not all in your head.

And it's certainly not just a part of life that you need to accept.

The reason you feel this way is because your hormones are off kilter. It's impacting women in their thirties, in their forties, in their fifties. I was only 25 when I went through this. So it's a very big problem in women today. It's an epidemic in women today. It's not being diagnosed, and it's not being picked up, which means it's not being addressed. So women are feeling worse and worse and worse, and they're not getting the right support and the right help.

Are your blood tests ‘normal'?

You may have gone to the doctor and had your blood tests done, and he said, “Everything's normal. You're fine. You're healthy.” You know, “healthy,” and you feel like crap, and you know that something's not right.

The reason why the blood tests are not detecting where you're at is that standard blood tests are not picking up what is actually going on in the hormones.

When our system is at sub-optimal function we can stay in that sub-optimal level for years before we have a clinical disease. So a blood test is designed to pick up markers of disease.

We can fly just under the condition or illness radar, but we could be progressing for years before it actually shows up in the blood tests.

Women are far more likely to have their diagnosis missed or to be under-treated. It can take five or more years for women dealing with chronic symptoms of mental fatigue, fatigue, metabolic issues, anxiety, depression and brain fog before they receive a proper diagnosis. This is far too long. This is exactly what happened to me.

And I don't want you to then think that you're not doing something right, that you need to be harder on yourself and exercise more and restrict your eating. We're hard enough on ourselves as it is. We don't need that as well, okay?

So I want to show you what's actually going on and what you need to do, so you don't have to wait five years and struggle for five years. I did it the hard way so you don't have to. So I'm going to show you the easy way.

The biggest hormonal disrupter that we have today is stress. I was at a seminar the other week on women's health and they said still at number one is stress. Stress is affecting us the most.

Never underestimate the power of stress to affect our biology and affect our body and the way that we think.

Stress alters our biochemistry. It's a medical fact, okay. When we're stressed, our body goes into what's called a fight or flight or freeze response. This is basically the stress response.

This response has been with us since our hunter-gatherer days. What this response was designed for was when in our hunter-gatherer days when we were surviving war, extreme temperatures, famine, running away from wild animals. It was our fight or flight or freeze response that kept us alive.

We don't have those dangers today. We don't need that flight or fight response getting our body prepped and ready to run away from a wild animal.

Because today 80% of our stress is mental and emotional stress. We're not surviving extreme temperatures or famine or war in most countries of the world, thank goodness. We are surviving the stress of our job, mortgages, our finances, the future. We've got that non-stop mental loop going in our head. We're hard on ourselves. We feel guilty. We have insecurities. We have our high expectations on ourselves. All of that stuff is constantly tripping our flight or fight response, or our stress response.

Our body is designed to cope with physical stress, not with mental and emotional stress. When we have mental and emotional stress, it communicates to the rest of the body, to every single cell in our body, that we are under stress, and it does that by a hormone. Hormones are the communication point between mind and body, and it impacts our immune system, our digestive system, our reproductive system, our nervous system, and all of our other hormones. Over time when we have high stress, it has this spillover effect. We have way too many stress hormones being produced. Our body was actually designed to have a stress response for 30 minutes every two to three days. That's what we had in our hunter-gatherer days. That's what our bodies were designed to cope with.

But today we have, science has predicted, between 50 to 100 stress responses per day. We are stressed for eight hours of the day, or 12 hours of the day, or 24 hours of the day. Even when we're sleeping we're stressed. It's unrelenting stress on our body that it's not designed to cope with. When those stress hormones get to a certain level, it has a spillover effect. And it has this domino effect on other hormones and systems within the body, eventually causing your symptoms.

The easiest way I can show this, and I'm not going to go into a lot of detail because people don't really find hormones that exciting, but this is my hormone tug of war diagram. 


Stress Hormones-Burnout-Adrenal-Fatigue


Cortisol is our main stress, our long-term stress hormone. Now, cortisol is kind of like the bully on the block. It's a really tough hormone. It's really strong and has this ability to take these other hormones offline. These other hormones are our natural anti-anxiety, our natural antidepressant. They naturally regulate our weight. So when we've got excess body fat, it'll increase our metabolism and burn more body fat. Hormones to keep us looking young, feeling young, keep us agile. Hormones to keep us happy, naturally happy.

Cortisol takes those offline.

So you can imagine when they're not there, of course, we're going to feel anxious and stressed, gaining weight and unhappy, and looking older or feeling older than we should be. Over time when the stress is high and unrelenting and unmanaged, over time it leads to what we know as burnout. It's also known as Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, or HPA Axis Dysfunction. These are all common names that you would have heard, maybe not HPA Axis Dysfunction, that's a new one, that's a more correct way of talking about adrenal fatigue today. Basically what it means is that those glands that produce most of our stress hormones, the adrenal glands, become exhausted. They're basically they have reduced function, which means we have reduced hormones, and therefore we start to feel all the symptoms that you're feeling today.

Eventually, that starts to really change our personality as well.

You may have gone from being a positive person with a really good outlook on life to being kind of withdrawn, not positive anymore but anticipate how things can and might go wrong, feel more overwhelmed, you become more irritable, you feel you have more insecurities pop up, more self-doubts and lacking the confidence you once had.

When this happens over the long term you end up operating from a place of fear and restriction because your body's under so much stress. You operate from fear and restriction, not from freedom, and not from choice . We want to reverse that. Like I said, it is an epidemic in women today. It's one that's not being addressed properly. It's not being treated, and women are going undetected and really struggling on their own; keeping to themselves because they don't know what else to do.


If you're not sure whether you have adrenal fatigue symptoms, according to Dr. James Wilson who wrote one of the first books on adrenal fatigue said 80% of people in the world have adrenal fatigue syndrome. The WHO (World Health Organisation) has recently recognised burnout as a medical condition, resulting from chronic stress that has not been successfully managed.  It's very common because of our lifestyles today, and we're not correcting our imbalances. To give you one example, one of my clients, Claire, she came in and she is basically superwoman. She was running her own business. She has one child. She is six months pregnant with her second child.

Exhausted. Waking up overwhelmed. Waking up with that mental to-do list. She was just waking up really stressed from the get-go, and it kind of set her scene for the day. She knew she could have been more productive at work, but she was very, very tired. She'd come home and she was so tired, and she still had things to do; had to cook, and get the kids ready  but was really dragging herself around and was really unhappy with how her life was. She also had Hashimoto's. So she was seeing a doctor. She was taking the right medicine for Hashimoto's, but she wasn't feeling any better. The reason being is because she also had adrenal fatigue.

Adrenals and our thyroid are linked. They have a direct relationship. Whatever the adrenals are doing, the thyroid is doing the same thing. So if the adrenal system has kind of broken down, or burnt out, so is the thyroid. So it's not enough to just treat one.

Hormones are like an orchestra. If one instrument is out of tune, or if one instrument isn't there, it affects the entire symphony. Our hormones are all linked. We can't have something happen to one hormone that doesn't happen to the others, and this is a really good example.

I put her on an adrenal reset plan to treat her adrenal fatigue symptoms. We reduced her stress, and she found that she was able to return to work two weeks after having her child because she just felt so good. She had tons more energy. She said she had more energy than she's had in decades. She was able to enjoy her kids more, spend more time playing with her son, and was obviously able to get back to work, and didn't feel overwhelmed with her life anymore. So it was a big result.

The important thing that I want you to take away from this first key secret is to deal with your adrenal fatigue symptoms, not reschedule your life.

Here's some extra reading that will help you understand more about your adrenal fatigue symptoms.

Do You Feel Sleepy Around 2 to 3 pm?

Meltdowns – Why Little Things Set You Off 

Feeling Tired All The Time?

If you want to find out more about correcting your adrenal fatigue symptoms, sign up for my next online workshop (it's free).

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Showing 4 comments
  • Rachael Charlotte Downs

    Thank you for sharing, this is definitely what I needed to read today.

  • Sue Robertson

    Hi vesna I have Graves’ disease leaky gut and almost certain adrenal insufficiency I get a bit frustrated with all the info out there when I read that all Autoimmune conditions are possibly a result Of EBV and then inflammatory conditions I need to make sure I have a strong immune system to cope with this and yes def get my stress levels under control , my point being some of us have multiple health imbalances and I have tried many protocols but the fatigue is relenting , I take 25mg of thyroxine and 20 mg of Somac daily just started on collagen powder any help greatly appreciated. Thanks

    • vesna2

      Hi Sue – thyroid autoimmune conditions are impacted by poor gut health as most of our immune system is around our gut. Also, adrenal/ HPA/ Stress impacts the thyroid because they have a direct relationship. There is so much you can do to repair this. Have you joined the masterclass yet? I talk more about this, details here:

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