Am I Having an Adrenal Fatigue “Crash”?

You may just be coming to terms with the fact that you are dealing with symptoms of adrenal fatigue.

What you may not yet understand is why seemingly small things can make these symptoms so much worse or why new symptoms can seem to appear out of the blue.

If things suddenly deterioriate for you in some way, you may be experiencing what Dr Michael Lam in his book Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome refers to as an “adrenal crash”.


What Causes an Adrenal “Crash”?

An “adrenal crash” can be caused by a number of things, but from my own experience a few years ago and from researching the work of people like Dr Lam, it is when the body is pushed beyond what it has in reserve, and the reserve that you have will depend on what stage of adrenal fatigue you are at, or no adrenal fatigue at all :).

Dr Lam’s definition of an adrenal crash is that it is

a state of acute adrenal weakness.  The body’s compensatory mechanism to stress has been overwhelmed.  To ensure survival, the body initiates a series of actions designed to conserve energy.  An adrenal crash represents such an effort by the body as it down regulates and returns to the most basic form of survival – a vegetative state.

Doesn’t sound so great does it.  Well it’s not!


An Early Stage Adrenal Fatigue Crash

In the early stages of adrenal fatigue, it is often very likely that a person does not even know that they are experiencing adrenal fatigue, let alone an adrenal fatigue “crash”.

A “crash” may look something like being extremely tired for a few days after over exercising, a stressful time at work which creates a disturbed sleeping pattern or coming back exhausted after a weekend away with friends with too much partying and not enough sleep.


The most common symptom of a crash is unusually extreme fatigue and exhaustion.  For someone in the early stages of adrenal fatigue, they will likely recover reasonably well after getting some quality rest and resume their normal way of life.

Over time however, these “crashes” can become worse.  What happens is that the baseline energy levels for someone can drop down to a new “normal” over time.

Each “crash” can cause the person to have decreased enery levels and this becomes their new “normal”.


Unfortunately for many people, it is only when the fatigue becomes severe that you sit up and take notice.


Dr Lam also explains that

With time, however, these crashes become more frequent and intense.  As adrenal fatigue syndrome becomes more severe, perhaps progressing into Stage 3, a crash can be triggered by something as simple as taking a longer than usual walk, and it can last for weeks and even months in extreme cases.  Of course, these crashes can vary greatly in intensity, depending on the stage of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome.

Note that Dr Lam talks about adrenal fatigue in 4 Stages being Mild, Moderate, Severe and very Severe (bedridden).


What My Crashes Looked Like in Stage 3 Adrenal Fatigue

Ok, so let me share a few examples of what this looked like for me in my personal situation when I was in a Stage 3 of Adrenal Fatigue a few years back.


1.  LOW BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS (or hypoglycemia)

There were a few occasions when my blood sugar levels got very low (this is a common symptom of adrenal fatigue) and if I didn’t eat quickly enough, that could cause a “crash”, ie where I was so fatigued and weak that I had to go to bed.

The effects of this could last for a few hours or up to a few days.  However, as talked about above, this affected my baseline energy levels and a new lower “normal” was created than before the “crash” came about.



Another example was overdoing exercise.  One day I attempted to do weights and I was still dealing with severe adrenal fatigue.  The weights I was lifting were very light but the knock on effect was still very harsh.

I was extremely weak and fatigued for several days afterwards and all of the other symptoms I was experiencing suddenly worsened.



One day (in desperation because of dropping blood sugar levels) I decided to eat a cup cake (with white flour that was not good for me)!  It made me extremely unwell for several days afterwards.  I experienced a lot of gut issues – diarrhoea, gas, bloating, hot sweats and nausea.  This added strain on my system causing me to “crash”.

I couldn’t function for a few days while this was going on.  Again I was very weak and exhausted.  Also note that food sensitivities are a common symptom of adrenal fatigue.



I had never been sensitive to being out in the sun before, but I noticed that while I was dealing with adrenal fatigue symptoms, being out in the sun even for short periods of time made me feel very unwell.

One particular day, I went out for about a 20 minute walk during the middle of the day.  Well, not a good idea!  The result was extreme fatigue and weakness for the next few days.  Another “crash”!  And yes, sensitivity to heat is another symptom of adrenal fatigue.


Time to Stop the Crashes

Ok, so you don’t have to continue to “crash”.

But you’ve got to begin to understand WHY you are crashing.

What are the underlying emotional and mental patterns that have created the stress in your life in the first place?

What areas of your life are not serving you?

What changes do you need to make in your life, and what steps can you begin to take to make this happen?

Sometimes, unfortunately, it takes us crashing hard (it certainly did for me) to really say enough, enough, enough please!


The Solutions – Be Gentle in Your Recovery Process

Start with the physical pieces, give your body the rest and nourishment that it needs.
Give yourself plenty of time and space to recover from any “crashes” that you may have gone through.
Keep yourself very calm – do gentle breathing exercises (lying down would be best post crash), move about your day slowly, nurture yourself in any way that you can.

Then, when you begin to feel more in balance, start to look at the deeper issues of what is going on for you.

Adrenal fatigue can be the most wonderful of teachers (believe it or not) as it will direct you to change your life for the better.

What changes are you prepared to begin making to bring your system back into a balanced state and to ultimately change your life for the better?


Best wishes on your crash free journey.



P.S.  If you would like to read and understand even more about adrenal crashes, check out Dr Lam’s kindle version of Adrenal Crashes: How to Prevent and Recover Quickly for under $1 (at the moment).  This forms part of his Adrenal Fatigue Recovery Series.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “Am I Having an Adrenal Fatigue “Crash”?

  1. I have read the above and I feel that you are writing about me. I have had such shocking crashes. I didn’t realise food played such a big part. I need to learn so much more about food. The major problem is that I need to learn so much, I need to cook and eat much better food for my adrenal fatigue BUT I just don’t have the energy to do this. I can sometimes now get through 1 or maybe 2 days with minimal rest during the day but by the third day I just crash and crash and crash. I don’t eat properly because I am too tired so either I don’t eat or I eat crap. It is just one big viscious circle. I am working on it with a Naturopath and a psychologist but this has been going on for so long in my life that it seems it will never end. I find your posts etc. so informative. I wish I could afford to buy all the books etc. but I have not been able to work for so long that the financial situation just does not allow it.

    • Michele it sounds like you are super aware now of what’s going on, so that’s great. Start with one thing to change and build on it. A good starting point is to get good protein into you within an hour of waking up. This will help set you up for a more balanced day. Congratulate yourself for all the positive changes you have made so far. Hang in there, build the new things in one at a time. I didn’t change things overnight, it was one incremental step at a time. You can do this. Lisa.

    • God please help me!!

      Looking back I have been heading downhill for awhile. Now I can see I’m in late stage 3 adrenal fatigue.

      I am 46 yo
      I have an adult child with autism
      I have a disabled husband
      I work full time in the health care field( don’t get me started on the state of the health care system )
      I am hypothyroid x 23 years
      I am postmenopausal surgically on estrogen
      In 2012 I went through an awful withdraw from cymbalta and in February this year withdrew from klonipin
      I am TIRED and I am WIRED.

      I feel like I’m on deaths door 🙁

      Losing weight like crazy
      Stomach pain
      Dizzy with standing
      I can’t relax
      Irritability and rage
      Cold Intolerance
      Tingling in fingers

      I recently joined with Dr Lam. I pray he helps me. I really don’t want to die.

  2. I’ve had secondary adrenal insufficiency for 20years from hypopituitarism that is the result of an Arnold Chiari Malformation and pseudotumor cerebrii. In the past year, my health has greatly declined. My blood sugar levels are low so much, although the increase in Prednisone has helped some. I had to deal with a very stressful situation the other day at a volunteer job I have at the homeless shelter. I used to be a RN but became disabled 20 years ago. This volunteer job has come to be a lot of work and stress. I’m wondering if I’m over doing it? After this particularly stressful event and at the same time came down with a cold, I had great difficulty with lightheadedness (low blood pressure I’m sure), palpitations and low blood sugar. I called the endocrinologist last night and took another bigger dose of Prednisone per her instructions and she’s having me take larger doses twice daily for a few days. I’m wondering if stopping the stressful volunteer job would help me? I don’t want to crash this bad ever again. In the past 6months I often feel like I’m hanging on to consciousness by my fingernails. I often feel like I’m at death’s door.
    My doctor’s are having trouble finding out what is causing and how to treat drenching sweats. I sweat all over, especially in a cape-type area. Any stressful thing even as little as talking on the phone, a warm room, a walk up the stairs will cause rivers of sweat to flow. My neurosurgeon thinks it may be autonomic dysfunction, but I couldn’t get an appointment with my neurologist for a couple months. My endocrinologist was hoping the increased dose of Prednisone would help, but it didn’t. I’m starting to wonder if it’s my adrenals? Has anyone else ever heard of this?