I was going to add this to an old post but I decided that 9 months without a reply was far too long so I'm simply going to give you my story about being diagnosed with adrenal fatigue.
In short, just because it's not Addison's Disease (which is all that most doctors will look for) does not necessarily mean that your adrenal glands are working at peak efficiency. The fact is that, if you are suffering from adrenal fatigue then it's likely you'll have to do more than just eat right, sleep right and exercise to help your adrenal glands recover properly, though these are obviously of vital import.
I was suffering from constant anxiety attacks for around 2 and a half years, starting in November 2003 (The day of the Rugby World Cup final actually - at least England won eh?...). Anyway, eventually they largely sorted themselves out but my recovery was interrupted when I started feeling that exercise (we're talking 30-minute brisk walks here, not marathons) was harder and harder to maintain. After much to-ing and fro-ing with my GP, I was referred to a neurologist who did a brain MRI and ruled out neurological damage but diagnosed chronic fatigue (it was never referred to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome so he may have simply been describing my symptoms rather than categorising me as having the actual syndrome). The upshot of this was that I was put on a low dose of Nortriptyline tablets that I've been taking for around a year (since Janurary 2007).
In the meantime I've also been seeing an acupuncturist and between her and the meds I've beeen doing a lot better, getting my exercise back up to the levels that they were at before the interruption. All seemed relatively good.
But then I started feeling a little worse, getting constipation and mild shortness of breath (I can still breathe easy enough but carrying on a conversation while walking along has become pretty tough and I've been feeling pretty exhausted after even mild exercise). Anyway, especially with relevance to the constipation my acupuncturist recommended I have some allergy testing done. She referred me to a healthcare professional and he rana blood test, which told me that I was intolerant to pretty much everything I was eating and some things that I wasn't (Wheat, gluten, rye, egg, carrots, strawberries and beans being the 'most eaten'). It was this healthcare professional who first introduced to me the idea of adrenal fatigue. He talked at length about how the balance between Cortisol and DHEA can become disrupted both during and after high-stress periods. He said it could explain not only the panic attacks themselves but also the years of fatigue that have followed and the food intolerances and other symptoms that have come and gone at various points.
I had the 24-hour saliva test done and lo and behold, I'm suffering from adrenal fatigue. My cortisol levels are very low, though at least my DHEA levels are perfectly normal. I've now started some heavy supplementation (some of which is designed to specifically help with the digestive issues rather than the underlying adrenal problem) and plan to add Licorice Root (Not the deglycerided kind, apprently...) as soon as I can get hold of some.
Anyway. The reason for this post is merely to enlighten those who are unaware of the existence of Adrenal Fatigue as a possible explanation for what they are going through. It has taken me 4 and a half years to get to the bottom of what's actually going on inside my body and it will take some time yet before the situation has been rectified (I've heard generalised estimates of anywhere between 6 months and 2 years so my own story is far from over).
I have no idea if this applies many of you, or even any of you, but I would not be at all surprised if many doctors are overlooking adrenal fatigue completely and simply telling people not to worry because 'it's just stress' or advising you to 'get proper rest'. I'm only here to give you another thing to ask your doctor or healthcare professional about you haven't already, since my own experience is that it's not something GPs, or even neurologists, will bring up on their own.
Thanks for taking the time to read this rather lengthy post, and I really hope that it helps some of you.