Last updated: November 27th, 2019…
As if people with ADHD don’t have enough problems to deal with – adrenal fatigue is unfortunately one of the more serious conditions that many people with ADHD must confront at some point.
If you have ADHD, and you frequently use stimulant-based medications, or even natural stimulants (like coffee), then you’ll probably want to understand the negative impact that adrenal fatigue can have on your life.
I’ve personally dealt with severe adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is pretty terrible to deal with. And, it’s actually thought that adrenal fatigue harms millions of other Americans as well.
I also have to assume that people with ADHD are one of the group’s of people who are most likely to encounter adrenal fatigue – probably as a result of consuming stimulant ADHD medication, dealing with extreme levels of stress, and working too much.
So make sure to read through this article, and save yourself from going through a lot of unnecessary pain!
What is adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is a growing epidemic that occurs as a result of your body’s inability to handle stress.
Because, if you’re like the average American, there’s a very good chance that you experience far too much stress – which usually leads to cortisol depletion (low cortisol) over time.
Cortisol is the “stress hormone” that’s made in your adrenal glands. And, your adrenal glands are two small glands located above your kidneys.
Your adrenal glands play an extremely important role in helping your body manage stress, control blood pressure, regulate metabolism, and oversee your “fight or flight” response. But, problems typically occur when your adrenal glands become overworked.
For example, people who undergo a lot of physical stress force the body to produce more hormones like cortisol and epinephrine. This usually happens as a result of dealing with a stressful career, relationship, health condition (ADHD), financial problems, or just life in general.
As you can probably imagine, prolonged stress can ultimately wreak havoc on your entire endocrine system, and make you feel depressed, anxious, lethargic, mentally exhausted, and even uninterested in sex.
This is essentially what life with adrenal fatigue is like.
Why people with ADHD are at risk of adrenal fatigue
People with ADHD are at serious risk of experiencing adrenaline fatigue.
This is because people with ADHD often use stimulant-based ADHD medications, drink numerous cups of coffee every day, and live stressful lives in general.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m very appreciative of stimulant ADHD medications, and natural stimulants like coffee.
But, it’s also important to be aware that these “lifelines” for people with ADHD are often double-edged swords – since both synthetic and natural stimulants can easily be used in excess, and throw your hormones way out of whack.
I know that life is rarely easy for people with ADHD.
And, it isn’t fun to hear that now you even have to be careful about how you use stimulants, manage stress, and keep a close eye on your hormones!
But, the reality is that ignoring the signs of adrenaline fatigue can make your ADHD symptoms seem 10x worse than they already are.
For example, imagine not being able to focus while also feeling like you don’t have the willpower to get out of bed in the morning. Or, imagine not being able to function until you consume 2-3 cups of coffee every morning.
Having ADHD is bad enough. But, having ADHD and adrenal fatigue can feel like you’re going through life in a dizzy fog.
Can ADHD medications like Adderall and Vyvanse cause adrenal fatigue?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is yes.
Using stimulant-based ADHD medications like Adderall and Vyvanse can contribute to adrenal fatigue.
This is definitely a tricky topic, because ADHD medications can actually help people with ADHD in terms of focus, willpower, and energy levels in the short-term.
But, on the other hand, ADHD medications can also hurt people with ADHD in terms of worsening your physical stress, and depleting cortisol levels over the long-term.
Like most things in life – moderation is going to be key when it comes to using ADHD medication safely, and keeping adrenal fatigue at bay.
However, if you feel like you’re dependent on using Adderall, Vyvanse, or any other stimulant ADHD medication in order to function in a normal capacity – this could be a sign that you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue.
How to heal adrenal fatigue
The most obvious way to heal adrenal fatigue is to take more frequent breaks from using ADHD medication and stimulants.
I’m not saying that anyone should stop using ADHD medication or stimulants altogether.
But, because ADHD medication and stimulants can stress your body, it truly helps to take breaks from these substances whenever you can.
If possible, lowering your daily dose of ADHD medication is another positive step towards healing adrenal fatigue. I’ve already written an article about titrating Vyvanse with water in order to find the Minimum Effective Dose (MED) that works best for your body.
And most importantly, it’s so crucial for people with ADHD to take frequent vacations, enjoy therapeutic massages, have healthy relationships, and do whatever it takes to keep away from stress.
If you can lower your dosage of ADHD medication, drink just a little bit of caffeine, eat a healthy diet, and take plenty of vacations, you’ll drastically improve your odds of preventing and healing adrenal fatigue.
Essential supplements for healing adrenal fatigue
Supplements work surprisingly well for fixing adrenal fatigue because of the healing power of adaptogens.
Adaptogens can actually increase or decrease the amount of cortisol that your body produces in order to bring your stress hormones into a natural state of balance.
So, when you use the proper adaptogens to heal your adrenal fatigue, you will be able to feel an almost immediate change in your body.
If you take ADHD medication, or use natural stimulants for ADHD, then it would be smart to supplement with certain adaptogens.
I ultimately recommend the following two adaptogen supplements to prevent and heal adrenal fatigue in people with ADHD…
Adrenal Health Daily Support (by Gaia Herbs)
Adrenal Health Daily Support by Gaia Herbs (Amazon) is the best supplement that I recommend using to heal adrenal fatigue.
This supplement contains some of my favorite adaptogens like ashwagandha, Siberian rhodiola root extract, and holy basil leaf.
The adaptogens found in this supplement will help you naturally balance your cortisol level, and restore the health of your adrenal function.
If there’s one supplement that you take for adrenal fatigue, it should be this one.
Licorice Root (by Nature’s Way)
Licorice Root by Nature’s Way (Amazon) is another fantastic adaptogen that’s been known to help with adrenal fatigue.
Licorice root works by suppressing the release of cortisol from your adrenal glands. This makes it easier for your body to deal with stress.
By using licorice root, you’ll essentially take a load off your adrenal glands, fight off viral infections, support your immune system, and enjoy a number of other health benefits.
But, it’s equally important not to take licorice root for too long, since licorice root contains glycyrrhetinic acid, which acts like the hormone aldosterone. Taking too much licorice root can lead to bloating, high blood pressure, and sodium retention. This actually makes licorice root dangerous if it’s misused.
So, it’s best to use licorice root only if you aren’t currently taking any medications. If you have any questions about using licorice root, make sure to chat with a qualified healthcare provider before you try it.
Overall, adrenal fatigue is a condition that people with ADHD need to be concerned about.
I’ve personally experienced the energy-draining feelings of anxiety and depression that comes with adrenal fatigue. It’s no fun at all.
So, it’s going to be up to you and your doctor to:
- Find strategies that combat stress, such as deep breathing, meditation and exercise
- Take more vacations (if possible)
- Go on small weekend getaways or “staycations” to constantly change your environment
- Take short breaks from using ADHD medication and natural stimulants
Yes, it can be challenging for people with ADHD to avoid adrenal fatigue.
But, by making a solid effort to prevent and heal adrenal fatigue – you’ll most likely save yourself from experiencing a number of health issues further down the road.