Have you ever caught yourself thinking, Wow, I’m burned out! It’s a feeling most people can identify with. But what does that really mean, and how does it happen?
I recently saw a patient whose story exemplifies true burnout. She was a 44-year-old working mom with two young kids, a high-powered job and busy city life. She had always been on the go — even her vacations were more like sightseeing missions than breaks.
She complained that she had started gaining weight a year earlier, and it wouldn’t budge despite her usual cardio routine. She’d gone on a pretty strict Paleo diet, which meant restricting carbs, but she wasn’t losing weight.
Her main issue, though, wasn’t the weight; it was that recently her energy had “tanked.” When she fell asleep she felt “knocked out,” but still woke up feeling exhausted after eight hours.
Her brain felt foggy, she was irritable, and she was drinking three cups of coffee a day to get through her afternoon slump. At night she became super mom, cooking and taking care of the kids. Usually she was at her laptop until about midnight, which is when she physically couldn’t keep her eyes open. Everything she described was classic for adrenal fatigue, but I wanted to make sure we were on the right track.