Depressed and Exhausted from Divorce and Child Custody Battles? You May Be Suffering From Adrenal Fatigue.Written by: Alison Print This Article
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If you’ve been going through a nasty divorce or child custody battle that has lasted years, it’s likely you have experienced a great deal of chronic stress. Years of such stress can create devastating health problems that are often misunderstood and inadequately treated. The stress of dealing with a high-conflict co-parent is particularly likely to badly damage a person’s health as the troubles often continue until well after the children grow into adulthood. But often medical professionals treat these problems as merely mental health issues when in fact there has been significant physiological to the body. This article points out some of the common symptoms of the physiological damage and refers you to additional reading on medical tests that can help you determine appropriate treatment for such conditions.
Personality Disorders and “High Conflict Personalities” Can Cause Severe Mental and Medical Damage
Parents who are dealing with a person who appears to suffer from a personality disorder such as Borderline, Narcissistic, Histrionic, Antisocial, or Paranoid personality disorders are particularly prone to devastating health effects. Often these people engage in parental alienation child abuse such as by blocking the children from contact with a capable or loving parent and trying to force the children to hate that parent. The children are clearly being abused along with the target parent. It’s entirely possible that the young ones will develop mental and physiological injuries from this abuse, too.
Some are literally driven to their deaths by years of abuse. A few even commit suicide to escape it. Others end up on work disability and require expensive medical care for many years. Yet for them, the symptoms still linger for even decades because often medical professionals treat these people as if they are simply suffering from “major depression” or “generalized anxiety disorder” when in fact they are physiologically very ill and in need of medical care, not just counseling and psychotherapy.
Common Symptoms of Physiological Damage from Chronic Stress
The following symptoms are often signs of long-term damage to the stress management systems in the body. Every one of them can result from damage to the adrenal glands after they have been forced to pump out vast quantities of cortisol for years trying to help you cope with the ex’s harassment and attacks.
- Mental fatigue or exhaustion
- Poor short-term memory, inability to focus
- Panic attacks
- Physical fatigue or exhaustion
- Physical pain unrelated to physical exertion and worsened by anxious thoughts
- Muscle weakness and/or physical clumsiness
- Major changes in weight
It’s common for anybody to have a certain number of these symptoms for short periods of time during stress. But for the chronically stressed, these are likely to develop into enduring symptoms that last many months or years. They are usually prevalent throughout the day but often become worse at night while one should be sleeping.
Psychiatric Medications Often Work Poorly for Sufferers of Chronic Stress
Doctors often prescribe antidepressants and benzodiazepines for symptoms like these. But many people who are subjected to long-term chronic stress of nasty divorces suffer these symptoms and find common psychiatric medicines help little or not at all. A common finding is that patients who suffer from “drug resistant depression” often have hormone and neurotransmitter imbalances that render many common psychiatric drugs ineffective or worse. By worse, I mean that sometimes these drugs will be more likely to cause severe side effects in these patients because they are often very sensitive to the medicines because of their fragile health. For example, a small dosage of a sleep medicine can cause them to malfunction as if a more healthy person overdosed on the medication.
Getting Medical Tests to Verify Physiological Nature of Stress-Related Symptoms
If any of this sounds familiar to you regarding yourself or a loved one, please ask them to read the following three articles:
The first article gives some ideas on more easily diagnosed medical conditions that can lead to chronic fatigue and pain symptoms. Many doctors are familiar with most of these ideas, but you may have to push them to run tests to screen for such conditions.
The other two articles explain how to get tests that may help identify the source of the symptoms and further discuss adrenal gland problems resulting in cortisol imbalances that are among the most common sources of these symptoms in chronically stressed people. These tests are often not ordered by doctors unless you insist upon them. Possibly you may even have to order the tests yourself and then show the results to your uncooperative doctor after the fact.
Tests Are Critical to Appropriate Treatment
Without the appropriate tests, it is often difficult to know how to treat the problems because the symptoms of high cortisol and low cortisol are remarkably similar. In early stages of chronic stress, the adrenal glands tend to overcompensate for the stress by dumping too much cortisol into the bloodstream leaving people with a “wired and tired” feeling in which they are exhausted but too anxious to sleep. Often these people will be gaining weight and have elevated blood pressure and temperature, too.
Later, as the adrenals run out resources to continue to make so much cortisol, the symptoms may transform subtly. You may find you start to lose weight for no apparent reason and be glad about that. But along with that not-so-bad change, there is frequently chronic body-wide pain that also interferes with sleep and worsens matters considerably. Such pain is often worst during the times of the day when the body has the lowest cortisol levels, typically from a few hours before bedtime to shortly before to a few hours after waking.
Many of the above symptoms are also caused by imbalanced neurotransmitters. This can be caused by nutritional problems, some of which are a direct result of chronic stress. For instance, many neurotransmitters are dependent upon adequate supplies of certain essential amino acids. Both adrenal fatigue and other health problems can cause digestive system dysfunction that results in declining protein and amino acid levels that can cause low levels of critical neurotransmitters. Other conditions can cause high levels of certain neurotransmitters and surprisingly, much like with cortisol, the symptoms for high levels and low levels are often somewhat similar. That’s why it is important to get both the cortisol and DHEA saliva tests recommended for adrenal health concerns along with the neurotransmitter testing. You need both kinds of tests to have a better chance of treating all the problems you have in order to recover from them.
Long-Term Chronic Stress May Also Lead to CFS and FMS
It is common for people with severe adrenal gland problems to have symptoms that are similar to those of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS, also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis outside the US) and fibromyalgia (FMS), two common illnesses that are widely underdiagnosed and undertreated. There are a lot of similarities between these conditions, so much so that some research studies contend that adrenal dysfunction is nearly always a part of CFS and FMS but that it is often very difficult to measure because the commonly used tests for adrenal dysfunction are usually interpreted based upon total adrenal gland failure such as Addison’s Disease or extremely overreactive adrenal glands such as are present in Cushing’s Disease.
You can read more about the similarities in symptoms and treatments for adrenal fatigue, CFS, and FMS in the article Low Cortisol, Low CoQ10, and Mitochondrial Dysfunction Often Found in Adrenal Fatigue, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Patients. All of these conditions typically benefit from hormone replacement therapies and nutrition and supplements focused on restoring mitochondrial health to replenish your body’s energy reserves to less severely depleted levels. It can take years to recover from these conditions, so it is important to get started as soon as possible to prevent the damage from becoming worse in the meantime.