T Nation

Stimulants, Stress, & Adrenal Exhaustion


#1

I abused caffeine supplements for three years in high school before burning out entirely and being forced to switch to antidepressants after the crash. During those three years I had a wild home life, I played 3 sports, got little sleep, and demanded straight A's of myself. Not recommended.

With a highly controlled schedule of nutrition and exercise and sleep, with various supplements like L-Tyrosine and Wellbutrin and finally Piracetam, I seemed to recover rather well...

But that only lasted a few months, and then following a series of stressful events, I was back to square one.

Whatever damage I did to my adrenals over the past 5-7 years has obviously not been undone: I am irritable, I don't sleep well, I'm constantly fighting brain fog, I crave refined carbs, salts, and sugars, I recover from exercise ridiculously slowly despite proper nutrition and otherwise being in good shape, I'm in and out of depression... the list goes on. Not pleasant.

Right now I'm taking pregnenolone, dhea, tribulus terrestrius, ashwagandha, panax ginseng, bacopa, a multivitamin, fish oil, magnesium, phosphatidyl serine, and GABA...

I try to do all the right things... not staying up late (very difficult to pass up social opportunities as a college student, but I do it in the hopes of feeling better), avoiding sugar, grease, refined carbs, high glycemic food, etc.

....but I still have no energy, I'm plagued by stress, and it's a good day when I can concentrate well on my work. There has to be a better way.

I'm not even sure whether I have too MUCH cortisol or too LITTLE; or if focusing on cortisol is the wrong approach. I know that I should have some tests done, but I am so low on money right now and my doctor doesn't seem to like ordering them anyways. Help a kid out.


#2

Although cortisol plays a role in how you feel, this is definitely not an adrenal problem. It is related to decreased pituitary signaling to the adrenal glands (look up HPA axis). The adrenal exhaustion theory has been debunked. It is anxiety and depression. You may not feel sad or suicidal, but if you have no energy, and you aren't sick, you are depressed. That is why Wellbutrin, a great but short-lived anti-depressant worked for you. Search on M&M if you want to find out the science behind this, but basically your goal should be to talk to a psychiatrist and get the mood disorder fixed.


#3

You need a psychiatrist like you need a whole in your head.

Get off that garbage, and see a specialist about your adrenals. Adrenal fatigue has a growing number of medical doctors who recognize it as a problem. If it is not that it could be some other hormone imbalance.

Drugs like wellbutrin are dangerous and have been proven to be ineffective. Even the mainstream media is starting to report this:

Here is an article on what a complete scam healthcare can be and "mental illness":

http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig10/henderson-null1.1.1.html

I also had adrenal fatigue due to caffeine and my MEDICAL DOCTOR helped me identify and work towards fixing it.

When it comes to prescription meds for made up psuedo medical conditions just dont. There is plenty of evidence out there showing this is pure profiteering by pharma companies.

Find it.


#4

You need a psychiatrist like you need a whole in your head.

Get off that garbage, and see a specialist about your adrenals. Adrenal fatigue has a growing number of medical doctors who recognize it as a problem. If it is not that it could be some other hormone imbalance.

Drugs like wellbutrin are dangerous and have been proven to be ineffective. Even the mainstream media is starting to report this:

Here is an article on what a complete scam healthcare can be and "mental illness":

http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig10/henderson-null1.1.1.html

I also had adrenal fatigue due to caffeine and my MEDICAL DOCTOR helped me identify and work towards fixing it.

When it comes to prescription meds for made up psuedo medical conditions just dont. There is plenty of evidence out there showing this is pure profiteering by pharma companies.

Find it.


#5

You need a psychiatrist like you need a whole in your head.

Get off that garbage, and see a specialist about your adrenals. Adrenal fatigue has a growing number of medical doctors who recognize it as a problem. If it is not that it could be some other hormone imbalance.

Drugs like wellbutrin are dangerous and have been proven to be ineffective. Even the mainstream media is starting to report this:

Here is an article on what a complete scam healthcare can be and "mental illness":

http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig10/henderson-null1.1.1.html

I also had adrenal fatigue due to caffeine and my MEDICAL DOCTOR helped me identify and work towards fixing it.

When it comes to prescription meds for made up psuedo medical conditions just dont. There is plenty of evidence out there showing this is pure profiteering by pharma companies.

Find it.


#6

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


#7

To the OP, it sounds like you might have hypothyroidism. Get your TSH, T4, and T3 tested. Also, if you have hypothyroidism and may or may not be on meds, caffeine is bad news. I'm speaking from personal experience but have also heard it from a good amount of people with thyroid issues. Also, if you have hypothyroidism, docs usually just put you on T4(Synthroid).

Again, for most, T4 won't do the trick by itself. I didn't start to feel better until I found a doc willing to add Cytomel (T3) to my regimen. The website linked below on thyroid issues is king, in my opinion. Also, plenty of stuff here on thyroid issues. Good luck. If I can help you in any way.

http://thyroid.about.com/


#8

Actually it could be basically all of the above, but without diagnostics it is hard to tell. Adrenal exhaustion is slowly beginning to gain acceptance with 'some' medical mainstreams Drs. Others consider such conditions as being psychosomatic.

Managing problems through supplements and compounds is fine, as long as you know what you are doing and are actually treating the problem that you have, and not taking a cocktail of chemicals at random.

I would look into a salivary cortisol profile, such as the ones that geneva do. For cortisol rhythm, they are pretty good. I would also check E2 and testosterone, which if high can surpress thyroid function, so, get a full Thyroid lab if you can. Obvsiously low thyroid can lead to the symptoms you describe. If you do have adrenal insufficiency, chances are, that your thryoid will be compromised also.

Insufficient cortisol, due to whatever reason, can lead to overt hypothyroidism; the cortisol is required for the conversion of t4 - t3 and the uptake of the t3 itself. In addition to the low cortisol, what some poeople observe is low serotonin also, due to comparativley high norepinephrine levels, this can lead to anxiety, insomnia, irratibility and other such symptoms.

Get these tests done for a clearer picture. Living with these symptoms is not a way to live your life. With some useful diagnostics and with a good practitioner to guide you, you can be back up to full speed in no time. All of these associated disorders are easily manageable with adequate lifesyle and dietary interventions, and in some cases, if absolutley required, hormonal therapy too.

Of course, this all a shot in the dark unless you become proactive and get yourself checked out.

Good luck


#9

And the retarded '09er gets his opinion in as well (that's me btw);

This may be a biased statement, as I just finished reading a book on what I am about to say. But what about serotonin? (I mention this since I learned lack of serotonin is linked to sugar cravings, apparently carbohydrates faciliate the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin)

Plus if you don't sleep well, usually low serotonin = low melatonin.

This may be completely off topic, but if you put all your eggs into the basket labelled 'cortisol', what if you were wrong?

have you tried something like 5-HTP (precursor to serotonin)?


#10

I appreciate each response-- I think there's an aspect of truth to all of them. There is a psychosomatic aspect to this. But that is definitely not the whole picture. I can be generally content for a couple days and still feel terrible physically. All of this means nothing, as many of you said, without testing. The problem is that I don't have faith that my PCP will go for testing... Or what tests to ask for. If I'm going to spend the money in copays, the time off from work or school, and yes, my own blood for the tests, I would like to have a specific target, so that I may tell my doctor what I need.

When I tried 5-HTP/L-Tryptophan/Lexapro, I experienced strange/unpleasant emotional effects-- I became inexplicably upset, and I had nightmarish dreams. It was seriously cutting into the quality of my days and nights, so I discontinued use.

-So at this point would it be more likely that I have detrimentally low levels of cortisol, or detrimentally high?

-What tests should I ask for? What is my best chance of getting an accurate diagnosis? Should I see another type of doctor (naturopath, DO, etc.)?

Thanks to all.


#11

Also, what I forgot to mention was that the "caffeine supplement" was Spike. It was amazing for awhile, lifting my energy and mood and, perhaps, intelligence... With the pressures of getting into a prestigious university, getting high SAT scores, etc., I got dragged into a vicious cycle of abuse and more abuse until my body couldn't handle it anymore. This is not a critique of Spike, and I definitely accept responsibility for what happened, but I am left wondering whether I will ever be able to perform at the level I did in high school whilst taking Spike... Did the Spike make me someone who I was not-- am not, or did it merely band-aid the many lifestyle problems I wasn't addressing?

With it, the world seemed to slow down and I could handle things. Without it, my head spins, I am overwhelmed, I can't follow lectures, I can't read philosophy without spacing out... and perhaps most disturbingly, it affects my social life, too. Without succinct thoughts, it becomes very hard to converse. Humor disappears when your mind feels numb and fatigued. This all has made me realize just how much our society favors those things which we have less control over than we'd care to admit-- namely intelligence.

Wonder how Joe is so much more clever than you, or why he makes such insightful comments in Political Studies? Why he then is attributed higher social status and gets the better job and eventually is buried in a nicer casket? It could have something to do with the speed with which his neurotransmitters communicate-- and what is this influenced by? Cod liver oil and exercise, sure. Classical conditioning, the lens through which he interprets the world, without a doubt. But I am of the opinion more and more that those who are naturally gifted with particular talents just got the better end of the bargain. Those without them, well, just got shafted. End rant.


#12

Sinnamon,

After re-reading your posts here I do think that you need to think about getting treatment. Clearly, whatever it is that ails you currently is having a profound affect on your mental and emotional wellbeing.

I think that asking for help on a bodybuilding forum is probably the wrong place to get assistance, but at least you have recognised that you need some. I am clearly no neuroscientist, and I dont profess to have any answers to your predicament, but I do know that imbalanced hormones and neurotransmitters have incredibly profound effects on cognitive and physical functioning, almost to the point that things can become overwhelming and often debilitating.

Look, you need to decided what to do here. I would beging by looking into the ailments that have been suggested in this thread. Adrenal problems, thyroidal illness, sex hormone imbalance and altered serotonin / dopamine, along with many other chemical imbalances I am sure, will all affect the symptoms you describe here.

I do not know much about the health system in the US, but I would begin by searching for reputable clinicians, regardless of their title, who specialize in the symptoms you describe. I would also look into the work by:

Dr John Lowe
Dr Mark Starr
Dr Marianco

There is a world of information on the interent, start with some of those above and get reading. I also think that if these problems have affected you to the extent that you have described, then investing in your health and wellbeing should be a priority.

Best of luck,


#13

Not to judge your issues one way or the other, but it's important to note that college is just plain harder than high school.

I had trouble adapting too. I mostly adapting by working harder... and taking easier classes.


#14

if it helps, I have read that Functional Medicine doctors are usually more open minded to these sorts of issues and they can be covered by insurance. Also i do believe some insurance covers Naturopath visits, but be sure to check first.

most PCP that arent open to these kinds of things wont be of any service to you, my old one even refused to test estrogen levels when he ran my Test levels because HE didnt feel he needed to. also Most will also only run a TSH and there are other tests important in diagnosing hypothyroidism.

Search for these types of doctors and call around and when make sure to see if they are more open to these sorts of issues before you make an appointment. I say this because if you are a college student i highly doubt you are going to want to shell out a couple hundred bones to do the tests yourself.

it might very well be that you arent even close to what is causing it and it might just be depression but you will just be poking around in the dark looking for an answer if you dont get tests to see if your bodies working properly.

also Biotest's Rhodiola Rosea worked fantastically helping me cope with the same sort of stuff and when im under alot of stress but i do encourage you to find out the problem and move on in the right direction.

just throwin that out there, hope i could be of some help.


#15

Get on AAS.

No joke.


#16

Hi Sinnamon, I went through something similar several months ago and I'm still trying to sort out the cause. I recommend that you see an endocrinologist, mine was pretty helpful in ruling out underlying conditions


#17

have you tried getting blowjobs?

i find it as an extremely effective stress reliever.


#18

Yes, Therizza.. I have tried that form of therapy with much success before =). All joking aside though, when I started to go down hill in April, I noticed that sex-- getting off, made me extremely fatigued-- like the energy was being sucked out of me, if you will... no pun intended. This drives my girlfriend crazy.

Dave Rogerson, your specific advice about cortisol profiles, etc. was exactly what I needed. Thank you.

I have considered AAS but really I think that's too extreme and I don't know nearly enough about the ones that would be safe for someone my age, if there are any at all. I also have no idea where to get them, seeing as the local drug dealer probably has never heard of Dianabol and doesn't know HGH from bull testes.

Talking to an endocrinologist sounds good in theory... but so did driving 40 miles through LA traffic jams to see a Doctor of Osteopathy, only to find out that he didn't practice "that kind of medicine."

Regardless, if I need to have tests done, I will have tests done... it's just a matter of when and through whom and how to pay for it.

I know my insurance covers Labcorp, does anyone know what tests I should ask for?

I would love to meet with a Functional Medicine doctor, but I don't think that there are any in my area that are covered by my insurance.

PS I realize this is a BB forum, but the sheer number of people with pragmatic health advice browsing these forums is invaluable for gathering ideas and problem solving, the way I see it. Thanks to all for all your help.


#19

Just go off and on of the things you take. Be sure and cycle and be smart.


#20

BULLSHIT HAASSS,
adrenal fatigue is a real thing but not in the way behind medical community.

GO take a poliquin seminar on adrenal exhaustion and how it relates to body fat patterns and cyclical hormone cycles.

The first step in diagnoses is a saliva hormone test.

low morning cortisol is often a sign you can GET UP IN THE MORNING WIHTOUT STIMULANTS
and than it elevates throughout the day and evening is its highest.

cortisol is not the only measurement.

TO THINK ITS DEPRESSION IS IDIOTIC AND ARCHAIC>>>>

depression can also be looked at mineral vitamin status, thyroid, adrenals and total testosterone count

depression is also a symptom not a root cause.

dont start pointing fingers like you know cause you go to med school or read JAP> ...

talk to DR wilson or sherry rogers or anyone in poliquins circle.

adrenal exhaustion IS VERY VERY COMMON with thos stimulant and fat burner abusers.