Myths About Adrenal Burnout Syndrome
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© Revised December 2007, LD Wilson Consultants, Inc.
Burnout is psychological. Burnout is a breakdown of the energy system of the body. Vital minerals are depleted or “burned out” (used up) and replaced by toxic metals. Psychological stress may be a cause, and burnout can affect one’s emotions and behavior. However, burnout itself is biochemical, not only psychological. Recovery may involve improving emotions and dealing with psychological issues. However, it also involves rebuilding body chemistry because it is a physical condition as well.
People in burnout have no energy and cannot work. Many in burnout hold full-time jobs or other active lifestyles. They may also appear to be in good health. However, they are often tired or stressed. They may require stimulants in order to keep going. Some bury themselves in their work to forget how tired they feel. One can go on like this for years in some degree of adrenal burnout. This usually stops, however, when burnout gets very serious, as there is not enough energy to continue working hard and living a very active life.
Vigorous exercise is good for burnout. Vigorous exercise can be attractive to those in burnout. Exercise may temporarily make one feel better.
While it may provide a boost, vigorous exercise further exhausts the bodies of those in burnout. People in burnout need to reduce exercise, often to a minimum. This helps conserve their energy and helps to allow their adrenals to rebuild.
Exercise in moderation can assist circulation and oxygenation, factors that may help with burnout. However, excessive exercise of any kind uses up energy and adrenal reserves that individuals in burnout do not have and cannot afford to lose.
A vacation, a diet or a nutritional supplement can cause recovery from burnout. Most people never recover from burnout, although they could if they followed a nutritional balancing program to the letter. Recovery also requires a strong commitment to healing. Recovery also takes at least several years. If one recovers faster, one was not in adrenal burnout.
Burnout occurs mainly in men. In fact, it is more common in women today. This is due mainly to lifestyle changes in women. Many women now work outside the home and raise the children as well. Many are also in single-parent homes or both parents work just to pay the bills and taxes.
Women are also more prone to copper toxicity, thyroid imbalances and other factors that can contribute to adrenal burnout. Women also do not realize in most cases they are different from men and have greater needs for rest and sleep. For all these reasons, we see more burnout in women today than in men.
Burnout only occurs in those in high-stress jobs. Burnout occurs in all groups, regardless of occupation, income or educational level. In fact, many homeless people are burned out. This helps account for why they may give up hope or be incapable of holding a job or supporting a home. In addition, burnout is a worldwide phenomenon today and is not limited to certain parts of the globe.
Burnout occurs only in adults. In fact, it is common today in children and even babies. Most children today are being born nutritionally depleted and toxic as a result of the ill health of the parents. This can be measured with mineral analysis.
Minimal brain dysfunction, chronic ear or other infections, crib death, delayed development, learning disorders, failure to thrive, ADHD, autism and anti-social behavior may all be symptoms related to adrenal dysfunction in our children.
Vaccination, wholesale drugging of the children and other abominations led by our public health authorities and the medical profession are only making the problems worse in the long term. Children usually respond very rapidly to nutritional balancing program. This is not at all the same as throwing a lot of good food and vitamins at a child. It must be targeted, based on a properly performed and correctly interpreted hair mineral analysis. I teach this science to anyone who will listen.
Burnout affects only physical health. Burnout affects every area of life. Family and work are often affected. Relationships often suffer. One may lose interest in everyone and everything.
There simply is not enough energy available for intimate relationships or for activities beyond those required for survival. Friends, family and employers are often unaware of what is occurring, which only worsens the situation.
A hectic lifestyle causes burnout. This may be one of many causes. Oddly, however, a hectic lifestyle can also be a result of burnout. Excessive activity, overwork and a very busy life can be a way to stimulate one into action and a compensation for feelings of exhaustion. When such a one stops working and running around, he will feel just how exhausted and perhaps depressed he really is.
A hectic lifestyle can therefore be a stimulant, like caffeine or loud music. It always makes burnout worse, but it may be the result of burnout, not the original cause.
Overwork for years causes burnout. This is possible. However, adrenal burnout may also occur quickly due to a single shock or just a few traumas that occur in rapid succession. In some cases, however, it is not be related to any single trauma or activity. Often a combination of factors causes burnout.
Whether one goes into burnout from an illness, accident, divorce, overwork or other stress depends very much on one’s ability to handle stress, rather than the absolute amount of stress. In other words, some people handle stress and trauma far better than others. For this reason, we recommend a grounding, centering meditation to everyone with adrenal exhaustion. (For more information about this, visit Dr. Wilson’s website and click on Meditation.)
Burnout is an overused term without a scientific basis. Just because burnout doesn’t show up on x-rays or certain blood tests does not mean it is not real. Burnout can be measured and quantified using tissue mineral testing and hormone testing. The term is not overused. In fact it is greatly underused. A large percentage of the population is in burnout and it would be helpful if physicians understood it better, even if they have no drug “cure” for it.
Plenty of sleep will take care of burnout. Unfortunately, this is not so. The person in burnout is unable to regenerate itself adequately during sleep. In fact, waking up tired after 8-10 hours of sleep is a primary symptom of burnout. Like a weak battery, the body does not recharge itself during sleep.
Cleaning out toxins will take care of burnout. The accumulation of toxins that occurs as the body can no longer remove them properly contributes to burnout. Exposure to toxic metals or chemicals can be an important factor in burnout. Eliminating them is helpful.
However, energy is required to release toxins. If the energy system is weak, just fasting or detoxifying will not be enough. Fasting, in fact, can and usually does make the situation worse.
One must rebuild the entire energy system by balancing body chemistry and providing nutrients as well. A one-month or even six-month ‘cleanse’ is nowhere near adequate. It can take over a year just to replenish one mineral.
Warning – For those in later stages of burnout, extreme detoxification programs such as fasting, raw foods or even chelating agents can be dangerous. This is because the body may lack the vitality to properly eliminate toxins.
Also, the eliminative organs are compromised. As a result, toxins that such programs release from various storage tissues may be redeposited in more vital organs such as the brain. This can significantly worsen one’s health. A gentle, complete program of rebuilding and nourishing the body must accompany any efforts to eliminate toxins. In fact, as vitality improves, toxin elimination will proceed on its own.
One will come out of burnout when one changes whatever factor or behavior caused the burnout. This means that if you just quit your stressful job or your stressful marriage, you will recover from burnout.
I wish this were true. It is not how it works, however. As one goes into burnout, vital minerals become depleted and toxic substances replace them. The toxic metals become part of the structure of enzymes and even parts of organs and glands. For this reason, although one changes one’s diet, lifestyle, attitudes or behavior, the toxins remain. This is very frustrating for people who expect a recovery after they leave a stressful situation such as a bad marriage, for instance.
To recover from burnout, just reestablish close communication with those who are close to you. This is the cure for burnout in one popular book. Re-establishing excellent communication with those you love is always helpful. However, in my experience it is usually not enough. In fact, it can be a source of frustration. Reason for this are:
1. As stated earlier in this paper, your loved ones often do not and cannot understand what has happened to you.
2. Burnout often affects your perception and attitudes. Therefore re-establishing good relationships can be complex.
3. Burnout is usually a multi-faceted problem that demands a more complete approach than just communicating better.
To get out of burnout, one needs to get back in touch with oneself. As with Myth #15, this is an excellent concept, but in my experience is not nearly enough for recovery. One reason is that getting in touch with oneself is often complicated when the brain has excessive toxins, thanks to adrenal exhaustion.
Burnout, for example, often causes terribly low self-esteem because one’s energy is low and thinking is foggy or clouded. Adrenal burnout causes most of its victims to become overly introspective. This is helpful in some ways, but damaging in others. The positive side of this is discussed at the end of this paper, and is very important not to miss.
One can recover from burnout in matter of months. It takes at least two years and often longer. Layers of toxins, infections and other adaptations and compensations must be undone.
Each adaptation uses up energy so that when one begins to heal, there is little energy to work with. This slows progress and is one reason correction takes several years. Eliminating toxins that have become integral parts of the organs and glands also takes time, like rebuilding a house. Also, most people must replenish twenty or thirty trace minerals. This takes time, even if one does all the correct procedures to restore one’s health.
If one recovers in months, I would assume one was not in severe burnout. However, often, a small recovery can feel like a cure when it is not. As an analogy, those in burnout need an overhaul, not a tune up. One needs to commit to doing whatever it takes and devoting a few years to healing. This needs to become one’s primary occupation or job for a while, allowing all other interests and activities to become secondary to the commitment to healing.
Burnout is not an important medical problem unless the stress of burnout causes high blood pressure or another symptom. Burnout is degenerative exhaustion. It sets the stage for all degenerative diseases, because energy is a common denominator of health.
All illnesses start with fatigue. The body is like a newer car with power steering, power brakes and power windows. When the power goes down, the entire car stops working right. Burnout is a serious medical problem, although symptoms may be vague and unrelated to a specific disease.
Burnout is new phenomenon. In fact, burnout is as old as humanity. Understanding adrenal exhaustion can even help us understand the rise and fall of civilizations. For example, it is known that many great civilizations, including perhaps our own, have fallen slowly or even suddenly. Why does this occur?
One way to understand the fall is that the people, as a whole, go into adrenal burnout and cannot sustain the intellectual, cultural and social traditions of the culture. Wise leaders and strong traditions become replaced with vulgar habits, lower moral standards and leaders who sway the people’s passions, but do not appeal to their higher sensitivities.
Constant wars, as occurred in Europe, can also contribute to burnout. Toxic technology can also take its toll. The Roman Republic was famous for its lead water pipes, for example. We are famous for our medical drug cures and surgeries, both of which involve a lot of toxic chemicals. Industrialization has brought large amounts of many toxic metals into our homes, air, water and food.
Even oppressive political and economic systems can contribute in some nations. This is a problem with the socialist and fascist ideologies that spring up around the world. They repress the people and, as a result, the people do not function well after a time.
Freedom, in contrast, tends to help people live better and function better. This was the goal of the founders of America, of course.
Burnout only affects one generation at a time. This is perhaps the most pernicious aspect of burnout. Children born to burned-out parents will be born nutritionally weaker and thus more prone to adrenal fatigue themselves. Children today are going into burnout, as a result, at a younger and younger age. So the story of adrenal exhaustion cuts across generational lives.
This was ably demonstrated by Dr. Weston Price, DDS, in his classic book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Melting pot nations like America have an advantage in this regard. New immigrants are often the more ambitious ones that are in better health and can help rejuvenate the population.
Also, nations that emphasize freedom and individual rights allow people to devise better ways of coping and maintaining their health that those that are stuck in rigid prescribed social structures.