T Nation

How I Beat Adrenal Fatigue



As some of you who follow the AF threads on here might know, I've been struggling with it for a while. Basically, it all started when I developed an anxiety disorder, and at the same time, began training for a deadlift competition (lots of singles), as well as using stimulants and fat burners. That was 2 years ago, and since then I have never been the same until now. My workout volume had to decrease drastically. I didn't actually lose muscle, but I found it harder and harder to stay lean even with the strictest of diet. Of course it was also impossible for me to actually put on muscle. I was also sleeping sometimes 16 hours a day.

Anyways, after a fair amount of doctor hopping, I finally found a good psychiatrist. With his help, and medication, I overcame the anxiety disorder.

Beating the anxiety was very nice, but unfortunately, it did not heal my adrenals. If I had waited long enough, it might have, but I have been tired (no pun intended) of feeling fatigued all the time and having BS workouts. So, a couple weeks ago I began my own hydrocortisone therapy. HC happens to be very difficult to find online, so I actually began researching using the cream. Turns out, some guys have been using it orally with success. I researched the ingredients, and they are fine.

My dosing schedule was 10mg at 10am, and 4pm - the times when I get so damn tired. Within ONE DAY, I began to feel better. I no longer needed the dose at 10am. Within a week, I feel GREAT. My sleeping is down to a solid 8 hours, from which I wake up from automatically. My workouts are back to the good old days.

My supplements include:
High dose vitamin C
Power Drive
Dr Mercola Multi Vitamin

Cymbalta 60mg ed
Buspar 60mg ed
Klonopin weaning off currently at 0.5mg ed
Hydrocortisone 5mg @ 4pm. Will wean off and use as needed.

Anabolic Diet


Great Post Thomas!

I have a lot of friends who are off/on ECA stacks and sometimes find it difficult to get moving when not on them. I will forward this information to them.

Thanks for taking the time to post good information and congratulations on your discovery and succes.




Great to hear you are doing better. I have adrenal fatique and have been working with it for about two years. I have been on Cortef and now the generic version of Cortef I am at 10,5, 5. The other thing you can do to support your adrenals is celtic sea salt 1/4 to 1/2 tsp twice daily in water or juice. The site where I frequent for adrenals and thyroid suggest the juice because because the sugar helps get it to where it needs to be.

The high dose of Vitamin C, which you take is also great. The adrenals live on Vit C and salt. Table salt will not do! I take the sea salt after my cardio workout and after I lift in evening. I am starting to reduce now, because blood pressure is a bit high and I think I am at the point where I have supported my adrenals enough and I am able to reduce things. I had the flu a couple a weeks ago and went two days without meds. My doc is surprised I didn't have an adrenal crash. I am thinking my adrenals are working on their own now, so hopefully I can continue to reduce meds.

By the way when you take your HC you should be dosing at a schedule that is similar to your own body's production, higher in a.m. then tapering off througout day, so a split of 10, 7.5 and 5 would be a better idea.

I hope this helps and I am glad you are feeling better. Just watch for your symtoms. It's not a fun thing.



Excellent post Thomas! It's good that you're back to yourself. I bet you missed you, huh?


Just a little update.

Got tests back.

Dhea: 11.9 (6-18)
Cortisol AM: 8.0 (2-11)
Cortisol Noon: 2.1 (1-7)
Cortisol PM: 1.7 (0.5-3.5)
Cortisol Night:0.7 (0.2-1.3)

Since quitting the hydrocortisone, I began to get tired again.

But according to my test, I don't think it is necessary to continue with the HC.

My cortisol noon is rather low, and would explain why if I sleep in until noon, I find it impossible to wake up regardless of how much sleep I get. If I wake up early, it is a lot easier.

For now I will stick with rhodiola and vitamin C in the morning.

I am starting to suspect something besides adrenal fatigue. My test results are too normal in relation to the fatigue symptoms I have. I think it might be related to blood sugar because A) I get tired after eating and B) I am living with my parents during the summer and am no longer on a low carb diet.

In the meantime, while I continue to try and figure this out, I am going to be using modafinil. It isn't too harsh, and I think my adrenals can handle the stimulation.


Sorry you aren't feeling great man, have you had your testosterone checked? Also, why type of carbs are you eating, that could affect you if you don't handle sugar well. What about your thyroid levels? Had those checked?


I haven't had test or thyroid checked. I don't think test is the issue because I have high sex drive and morning erections. I don't have any symptoms of hypothyroidism either. Actually, I am mysteriously leaner these days.

If I eat bad carbs, I am guaranteed to be get tired. But even many not-so-bad ones make me tired. Oatmeal, quinoa etc. The weirdest one is whey. The foods are too varied to be allergy related.

Still, considering the hydrocortisone did work, it means the adrenals are involved. It also can't solely be about insulin sensitivity, because I was on the anabolic diet for about 8 months straight. During that time my symptoms were just as bad.

It's so damn confusing though. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about endocrine function, but I am having a really hard time figuring this out. The doctors, of course, have no idea.

Saying all that, I don't mean to complain. I am still doing MUCH better than I was 6 months ago. I don't actually have to sleep 16 hours anymore. I just feel too weak to have an intense workout most days. I am holding on to my muscle mass though. I just wish I could go back to the days when I could workout 6 days a week with insanely heavy weights haha.


Awesome thread. I have been on Prednisone for almost two years, and am nervous that my adrenals are messed up. I know my cortisol is higher at night and lower in the morning, which is an abnormal cortisol rhythm. I have had low test BUT my sex drive has always been pretty high - though, it has fluctuated lately but I attribute that more to malnourishment and anemia that I have been dealing with - so I urge you to take a look at your T levels; morning erections are NO indication that your T levels are high.

I have read about people being prescribed high doses of unprocessed sea salt ( for instance, sea salt in a bottle of water) and Vitamin C to combat adrenal fatigue. There was an article on here a while ago about this.


The reason physicians may not be as helpful is because adrenal fatigue is not listed as a valid medical illness. Most of the time, adrenal fatigue symptoms are attributed to other diseases, and really only so called "alternative" medicines make any significant mention of a disease called "adrenal fatigue". Not saying it's not a real presentation, but many times so called cases of adrenal fatigue are actually symptoms of other diseases.

As far as supplements go, vitamin C is probably the best bet (I can't really comment on the rhodiola, as I haven't read the research behind it). A diet higher in potassium, or potassium supplements, may have some efficacy in improving your energy levels.

Since HC is working (note: I would be careful, as HC is immunosuppressive and the cumulative effects of HC treatment aren't really highly characterized), then that does seem to indicate the adrenal glands as the culprit. An option you might want to consider mentioning to an endocrinologist is the possibility of doing a ACTH stimulation test. This will give some might reveal some information on adrenal function and rule out other possibilities such as adrenal insufficiency. Google ACTH stimulation test, and you should have lots of info, since ACTH levels could be another culprit.

(Disclaimer: This post does not constitute medical advice, as I am not yet a medical professional. Always consult your physician before beginning any supplementation or self-directed medication.) LOL, I feel professional writing the disclaimer.

Good luck!


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


Your diagnosis of adrenal fatigue looks like depression. I see you are taking cymbalta for depression. What are the side effects?


adrenal fatigue CAUSES depression...treat the adrenals, the depression will get better. If you have your thyroid checked, make sure it is by a functional medicine doctor. Look up Wilson's Thyroid Syndrome. Ask your doc if he treats this...sounds like you are on the right path.


I'm very interested in the use of the HC cream, my wife was diagnosed with AF a few months back with no help from the docs except , abstain from high intensity exercise and stimulants. Could someone point me in the right direction where I could do more research on this? I tried google but didn't find any sources. I'm guessing it's an underground practice.


try to find an MD or DO who practices integrative medicine, anti-aging, etc. That helped me out a lot.


This is what an MD immediately says.

I am on Cymbalta for anxiety, and it is working 100%. I feel no depression and never did. No side effects.


Yes, it's very underground. You won't find any research on HC cream, besides a few people in forums using it. I did a quick check on all the ingredients, and they appear to be safe, but honestly I can't say for sure if it is a healthy thing to be taking.

Here is a thread on mindandmuscle:



Adrenal Fatigue is a generic diagnosis and it is made by using the inaccurate saliva cortisol test. It is unlikely he truly has impaired his adrenal function.

He is currently on depression medication, which may have been a mistake if his fatigue is causing his depression.

He may be eating the wrong diet too. Some people need carbs and he is doing the AD. It is not for everyone.

I agree with getting the thyroid checked by and endocrinologist. There is a whole host of possible problems.

Internet diagnosis and diagnoses based on saliva cortisol tests may be doing more harm than good.

He is eating a pile of pills and supplements now. Some may be having a negative effect.


Just another possible option-- do you snore when you sleep? I am not overweight but was diagnosed with sleep apnea (obstructive). It's just the way my head/throat, etc. is shaped.

I never knew I had it until I was screwing around on the internet trying to find ways to fix my snoring so my gf could sleep.

Apnea not only messes up your sleep, but you are sluggish in the am and your body chemistry is all out of whack (insulin, cortisl, along with a host of other hormones).

I now sleep with a CPAP machine and have been doing so for about a year. After about a week I felt like a new man...I don't know how I made it through undergrad and graduate school feeling like I did (all while lifting, etc.). I knew I was tired but didn't really know how bad it was until I was "better" and had something to compare it to. I just thought i "needed" 10+ hours of sleep.

My sleep test was interesting to say the least-- I averaged about 50 episodes of breathlessness per hour, with the longest one lasting 59 seconds!! wtf!!! obviously, my time spent in the best kind of sleep was low and things were just overall much worse than I realized.

I thought about making this it's own post because I suspect that there are many undiagnosed apnea sufferers on T-Nation. I can say that since being on cpap I have gotten leaner, stronger, more energetic, etc. now that I'm actually sleeping like a normal person.


Thanks heaps for this guys. I too suffer from sleep deprivation, leading to adrenal fatigue & depression. Shit pisses me off but im too tired to get angry.

I found a natural test-booster helped me too.

What OTC supps are you guys using & at what doses? What do you think about adding Phosphatidylserine into the mix?


i forgot the most obvious too! Reset AD...