What happens when a patient in adrenal burnout goes to a medical doctor
Jessica was an extremely active young woman who came into a doctor’s office complaining of persistent fatigue and sore muscles for the past several weeks. She was also mildly depressed but believed such feelings to be merely a by-product of a larger problem. “Yes, I’m depressed but only because I have no energy,” she told the doctor. Jessica was still able to function but felt that she was operating at about 80% efficiency. The doctor performed the standard examination and found nothing unusual. The doctor then followed standard procedure and ordered a comprehensive set of blood tests to determine what was wrong. Jessica was not surprised. If she had been too sick to go to work or school, the doctor would have found a bacterial or viral infection. It had to be a deeper problem because the symptoms had lasted so long and had not improved.
Jessica then had to wait two weeks for the results and was hopeful that whatever was causing those symptoms could be treated easily and hoped to be back to normal within a month or two. Since she was eager to return to her normal active lifestyle, Jessica was anxious to know what lab values are out of balance. Thus, abnormalities were interpreted as good news. However, the worst case scenario occurred when she got the call indicating that every single lab value was within the normal range. “If everything is normal, why do I feel so bad?” This question is all too common and most doctors will hear it many times in their careers. Again the doctor followed standard medical procedure and assumed that the condition was clinical depression and prescribed the latest “wonder drug,” which typically is intended to balance serotonin levels, to treat the symptoms. The doctor was genuinely sorry to see his or her patient hurting so badly but was convinced that help was on the way.
Jessica was puzzled by this diagnosis because she had endured far more physical pain than emotional pain. In fact, she had been coping with the physical pain remarkably well under the circumstances. Nevertheless, she felt that she has no choice other than to follow the doctor’s advice and take the prescription. Fortunately, she was covered by insurance and could afford the medication.
Despite some annoying side effects, the pain diminished somewhat within a month. Jessica was not back to normal but was convinced that she was on the road to recovery. However, within 2-3 additional weeks, she felt no better than when she first showed up at the doctor’s office. Again, the doctor was sorry to hear this bit of bad news and decided to give her a stronger prescription and a referral to a psychologist in hopes that her symptoms will finally be relieved. Jessica showed some initial improvement but once again, within a month or two, she was only slightly better than before. The cycle repeated itself.
Eventually, she became convinced that her initial instinct that her problem was not clinical depression was correct. Jessica was able to reduce her dosage without further problems but suffered horrifying withdrawal symptoms when she tried to quit altogether. She switched doctors and had more lab tests conducted. Again, the results were inconclusive.
It has now been a full year since Jessica began to have these symptoms. They continue to hold her back at work and adversely affect her relationships with others. She had been extremely active but is now only capable of light exercise. Still, she manages to “get by” and even appears to be moderately successful. She has begun to accept that her former energy level will never return. She is only 25 years old. This is a very sad story that is all too common. Fortunately, proper medical care can reverse these issues. If this sounds like your life story or that of someone you know, PLEASE read on!
Note: The thyroid misdiagnosis was the reason why my story was different initially. In some ways, I was lucky to have been misdiagnosed. If not for the thyroid medication, nothing would have masked my symptoms for years and I may have been forced to drop out of college.