Adrenal fatigue is produced when your adrenal glands cannot adequately meet the demands of stress. The adrenal glands mobilize your body's responses to every kind of stress (whether it's physical, emotional, or psychological) through hormones that regulate energy production and storage, immune function, heart rate, muscle tone, and other processes that enable you to cope with the stress. Whether you have an emotional crisis such as the death of a loved one, a physical crisis such as major surgery, a chronic inflammatory disease (i.e., environmental or food allergy, arthritis, etc), or any type of severe repeated or constant stress in your life, your adrenals have to respond to the stress and maintain normal function (homeostasis).
During adrenal fatigue your adrenal glands function, but not well enough because their output of regulatory hormones has been diminished - usually by over-stimulation. With each increment of reduction in adrenal function, every organ and system in your body is more profoundly affected. Changes occur in your carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance, heart and cardiovascular system, and even sex drive. Many other alterations take place at the biochemical and cellular levels in response to and to compensate for the decrease in adrenal hormones that occurs with adrenal fatigue. Your body does its best to make up for under-functioning adrenal glands, but it does so at a price.
Anyone can experience adrenal fatigue at some time in his or her life. An illness, a life crisis, or a continuing difficult situation can drain the adrenal resources of even the healthiest person. However, there are factors that can make you more susceptible to adrenal fatigue. These include certain lifestyles (poor diet, substance abuse, too little sleep and rest, or too many pressures), chronic illness or repeated infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia, prolonged situations that you feel trapped or helpless in (bad relationships, stressful jobs, poverty, imprisonment), or maternal adrenal fatigue during gestation.