In his new book, Unleash the Power of the Female Brain, brain expert Daniel Amen, M.D., helps us understand that mysterious organ inside our head and gives us powerful tools for optimizing brain health. One chapter is dedicated to hormones, which, it turns out, are critical to a healthy brain. When hormones are out of balance, important things like memory, sleep quality, sex drive, anxiety, hunger and more can get out of whack too.
The hormones produced by the adrenal glands—adrenaline, DHEA and cortisol—are a hot topic these days. Responsible for our fight-or-flight response, our adrenals have to work in overdrive if we take on more and more stress on less and less sleep.
When your adrenals are out of balance, you can feel tired, wired, or sometimes, both. You don’t have the reserves you need to deal with life’s stressors or to mobilize yourself for extra energy. You might have trouble sleeping, even if you are also profoundly tired.
Adrenal Hormone Imbalance Quiz
This questionnaire from Dr. Amen can help you determine whether your adrenals are out of balance. Mark each question with a 0 for NEVER, a 1 for SOMETIMES, or a 2 for OFTEN.
- Do you feel like you have excessive exhaustion? _____
- Do you struggle with excessive symptoms of PMS? _____
- Are you unable to lose gained weight? _____
- Does your period flow for 1 or 2 days, then stop for 1 or 2 days, then start again for two or three more days? _____
- Do you have a low sex drive? _____
- Do you feel lightheaded shortly after standing up? _____
- Do you have difficulty getting up in the morning? _____
- Do you need coffee or other stimulants to get going in the morning? _____
- Do you crave sugar or salty foods? _____
- Do you tremble when under pressure? _____
- Do you have difficulty remembering things? _____
- Do you have pain in your upper back or neck for no apparent reason? _____
- Do you feel fatigued in the afternoon between 3 and 5 pm? _____
- Do you feel suddenly better for a brief period after eating? _____
- Do you have alternating constipation and diarrhea? _____
- Do you have lowered immunity (ie. Get the flu easily)? _____
- Is it difficult for you to recover after a physical exercise session? _____
- Are you sensitive to bright lights? _____
- Do you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope? _____
- Do you have difficulty concentrating, sometimes called “brain fog?” _____
- Are you anxious or irritable? _____
- Do you have low blood pressure? _____
- Do you have multiple allergies? _____
- Do you feel depressed? _____
- Are you intolerant to cold weather? _____
Now, add your score. If you scored 15 or higher on the above questions, you may have adrenal fatigue or adrenal exhaustion. This can be accurately determined with a blood test for DHEA-S and a 4-point saliva test for cortisol. There are a number of natural supplements that can help adrenal fatigue, as well as natural stress management techniques like deep-breathing and relaxation exercises, meditation and self-hypnosis. You’ll want to discuss recommendations with your personal healthcare provider.
Questionnaires of any sort should never be used as the only assessment tool. Use this one as a catalyst to help you think, ask better questions and get more evaluation if needed.
You can learn more about Dr. Amen and his latest book in the video below or at UnleashtheFemaleBrain.com.