Some Flowers Only Bloom in the Imagination

Correlation between PTSD and Adrenal Fatigue

Posted By on April 8, 2012

This is what the Mayo Clinic has to say about symptoms of PTSD and TBI. Below this I will list some (and by no means all inclusive) of the symptoms of Adrenal fatigue in its various stages, and Hypopituitarism. Several years ago I spent a few days down in Fayetteville, at a Starbucks no less, with print outs of the AF symptoms, and polled soldiers who came in about their experiences with PTSD. I didn’t even get into TBI because at that time it wasn’t broadcast too much. I feel I should probably do it again and ask about that too. The results I got were, quite frankly, astounding and not a little disturbing.


  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Avoiding activities you once enjoyed
  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships


  • Irritability or anger
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Being easily startled or frightened



Symptoms of PTSD: Re-experiencing the traumatic event

  • Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma
  • Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating)

Symptoms of PTSD: Avoidance and numbing

  • Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma
  • Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma
  • Loss of interest in activities and life in general
  • Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb
  • Sense of a limited future (you don’t expect to live a normal life span, get married, have a career)

Symptoms of PTSD: Increased anxiety and emotional arousal

  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hypervigilance (on constant “red alert”)
  • Feeling jumpy and easily startled
  • Anger and irritability
  • Guilt, shame, or self-blame
  • Substance abuse
  • Feelings of mistrust and betrayal
  • Depression and hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings
  • Feeling alienated and alone
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Aches and pains with no apparent cause
  • Irritability and aggression

For Traumatic Brain Injury:


  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Visual disturbances
  • Memory loss
  • Poor attention/concentration
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Dizziness/loss of balance
  • Irritability-emotional disturbances
  • Feelings of depression
  • Seizures

Other Symptoms Associated with Mild TBI

  • Nausea
  • Loss of smell
  • Sensitivity to light and sounds
  • Mood changes
  • Getting lost or confused
  • Slowness in thinking
  • Chronic pain
  • Control of bowel and bladder
  • Sleep disorders
  • Loss of stamina
  • Appetite changes
  • Regulation of body temperature
  • Menstrual difficulties


  • Dependent behaviors
  • Emotional ability
  • Lack of motivation
  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Disinhibition
  • Denial/lack of awareness
  • Attention
  • Concentration
  • Distractibility
  • Memory
  • Speed of Processing
  • Confusion
  • Perseveration
  • Impulsiveness
  • Language Processing
  • “Executive functions”

Speech and Language

  • not understanding the spoken word (receptive aphasia)
  • difficulty speaking and being understood (expressive aphasia)
  • slurred speech
  • speaking very fast or very slow
  • problems reading
  • problems writing


  • difficulties with interpretation of touch, temperature, movement, limb position and fine discrimination


  • the integration or patterning of sensory impressions into psychologically meaningful data




This is a page from Janie Bowthorpe’s book, Stop the Thyroid Madness, which lists the most common adrenal symptoms. I don’t think I need to draw a map to detail the similarities.


  • shaky hands; shakiness
  • diarrhea
  • bad palps
  • higher heart rate
  • pounding heart
  • feeling of panic
  • weakness
  • inability to handle stress
  • inability to handle interactions with others
  • inability to focus
  • rage or sudden angry outbursts
  • emotionally hyper sensitive
  • overreacting
  • highly defensive
  • feeling paranoid about people or things
  • exacerbated reactions to daily stress
  • no patience
  • easily irritated
  • mild to severe hypoglycemic episodes
  • nausea in the face of stress
  • taking days to recover from even minor stress
  • taking days to recover from a dental visit
  • flu-like symptoms
  • headache
  • all over body ache
  • super-sensitive skin
  • extreme fatigue
  • scalp ache
  • hyper feeling
  • jittery
  • clumsy (drop things, bump into things)
  • confusion
  • suddenly feel extremely hungry
  • low back pain
  • dull
  • cloud-filled head
  • jumpiness
  • muscle weakness
  • “air hunger”
  • dizziness
  • light headedness
  • motion sickness
  • coffee putting patient to sleep
  • vomiting even running up the slightest incline
  • almost passing out every time patient gets up
  • dark circles under my eyes
  • waking up in the middle of the night for several hours
  • difficulty falling asleep
  • frequent urination
  • IBS symptoms
  • worsening allergies

As I said, these symptoms are by no means all inclusive. One thing I want to point out. All of the above symptoms CAN have other causes. It’s very easy for one disorder or disease to mimic another when symptoms cross each other. People can be diabetic without being hypothyroid, they can have nightmares without PTSD, they can have ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome without having adrenal fatigue, or sleep apnea, menstrual problems, infertility. etc. They can even be grouchy and irritable, or just plain assholes without having PTSD or TBI.


However, when one patient experiences MULTIPLE symptoms all falling in line with the same category, not to mention when a doctor knows a patient has been in a heightened stressful situation such as war or another traumatic event, a responsible doctor should start playing “connect the dots” – to put it in TV terms, they should play Dr. House. They should start looking for the connection underlying, tying all the symptoms together and find the cause, not just treat each symptom separately.


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