Dr Judith Orloff's Blog

Why Empaths Are at Risk for Adrenal Fatigue

Judith Orloff - Monday, April 28, 2014

Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s book,“The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People” (Sounds True, 2017)

As a psychiatrist I treat many empath-patients who come in exhausted with a syndrome known as adrenal fatigue. This is a collection of symptoms such as exhaustion, body aches, anxiety, trouble thinking clearly, and insomnia. In this condition, the theory is that the adrenal glands can’t keep up with outside stress so the hormones such as cortisol that normally keep you energized begin to get depleted.

In my books, "The Empath's Survival Guide" and "The Power of Surrender" I discuss the very real situation of empathic illnesses where empaths literally take on the stress\ and symptoms of others. Unfortunately, conventional medicine doesn’t have a context with which to understand this and many empaths are left in the lurch or misdiagnosed. Because empaths can be emotional sponges and take on the literal symptoms of others, it adds to their stress levels and leaves them more vulnerable to adrenal fatigue. To learn more about Empathic Illnesses including strategies to stop absorbing other people’s toxic energy read the chapter “Harmonizing with Illness & Pain” in my book.

Here are some solutions for empaths to treat adrenal fatigue that can turn your symptoms around and restore your energy. But remember, for empaths this isn’t a one-time fix—it requires some basic life style and diet changes so that you can effectively manage your energy over the long term.

Strategies to Relieve Adrenal Fatigue

  • Get a blood test to measure your cortisol levels.
  • Consider temporary natural cortisol replacement per your physician’s recommendation.
  • Get as much rest as you can on a regular basis (sleep is very healing and restorative!).
  • Eliminate the energy vampires in your life or at least set clear limits and boundaries with them so they don’t chronically sap you. (Read Chapter 5 in the Ecstasy of Surrender for tips and strategies.)
  • Eat a natural whole food diet and avoid junk food
  • Add Himalayan Red Salt to your diet and get rid of low quality salts (always check with your physician if your blood pressure is high).
  • Avoid white flour and other toxic grains
  • Minimize your sugar intake
  • Gentle exercise and stretching—gradually build up stamina and challenge yourself as your energy increases
  • Meditate: Use the three minute surrender to your heart meditation in The Ecstasy of Surrender to take mini breaks throughout your busy day to replenish yourself
  • Take 2,000-5000 mg Vitamins C orally every day
  • Consider IV Vitamin C drips (10-25,000mg) delivered intravenously that can jump start your energy level and support adrenal health (holistic physicians often offer this treatment in their offices). I get one whenever I feel like I’m coming down with a cold to build up my immune system—and it works!
  • In addition to these practical tips, get in the habit of practicing positive thinking. By this I mean, do not beat yourself up with negative thoughts such as “I will never feel better” or “I am weak and sick.” Rather focus on the surrender affirmations I present at the end of every chapter in the book such as “I am healthy, happy, and deserve to have vibrant well-being.” You might not have control over some stresses in your life but you can have control of your attitude. To relieve adrenal fatigue, you can remove a great deal of inner stress by surrendering patterns of self-loathing and embracing self-compassion and self-love!


    Judith Orloff, MD is author of The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People, upon which her articles are based. Dr. Orloff is a psychiatrist, an empath, and is on the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty. She synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. Dr. Orloff also specializes in treating empaths and highly sensitive people in her private practice. Dr. Orloff’s work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, the Oprah Magazine and USA Today. She is a New York Times best-selling author of Emotional Freedom, The Power of Surrender, Second Sight, Positive Energy, and Guide to Intuitive Healing. Connect with Judith on  Facebook and  Twitter. To learn more about empaths and her free empath support newsletter as well as Dr. Orloff's books and workshop schedule, visit her website.

    Cindie commented on 29-Apr-2014 06:42 PM
    Omg Dr.Judith! Amazing!
    Elisabeth commented on 29-Apr-2014 07:27 PM
    Thanks for your input! It encourages me to trust more my intuitive feelings than I have done so far.
    Anonymous commented on 29-Apr-2014 07:29 PM
    Thank you <3
    Ugie commented on 29-Apr-2014 10:00 PM
    Thank you Dr. Orloff,
    For many, many years I have known that I am an empath. This is the very first time twelve known ths condition to be addressed. This is not something I asked for, and I have felt so tired sometimes, but did not know why. It felt like someone drained all the energy from my body with a vacum cleaner hose. You put a name to what I have experienced.
    I love the affirmations and the suggestions to address my health a a result of this.
    My goal is to begin a better nutritional way of eating and taking better care of my body. I pray and meditate daily, and have done so for many years.
    Thank you again, and may you be continually blessed,
    Anonymous commented on 30-Apr-2014 01:39 AM
    As a Reflexologist I see so many unbalances in my clients feet.... especially in the younger generation... due to lack of poor diet. Adding Omega 3 fish oils into our diet can have a huge positive effect....our bodies feel so much more nourished....it feeds our skin and is so good for our hair.....and lots more...........
    Becky commented on 30-Apr-2014 01:41 AM
    Great article! Will definitely get the book! I have a predicament though that I really need help getting through. I can take this advice and apply it everywhere but this one spot! I actually manage my empathetic self well, but I realize it's mostly through avoidance. I don't mind being a hermit and when I'm around friends, I'm great! When I'm around people with energy I don't do well with, I need to flea. I'm usually ok getting through this, as my husband knows I can only handle small doses. But, this one topic, he is blind to. It just seems like nothing works and my mind then goes into the gutter. My mother inlaw, which is why he can't see it, is extremely present and it creates my husband to completely shift his normal energy onto her and I am ignored most of the time when we're all together (they speak a different language also). I've told them they do this but it doesn't seem to phase them. I know I'm sensitive and usually it's my own perspective which needs adjusting, but this one feels different and I just don't know how to block her energy. She feels like a force that demands a red carpet and he rolls it right out and presses it down and then walks her right down it, and he's 40. It's just the relationship they have. I love and respect my mother, but she's a capable human being and we don't baby one another like these two. It's frustrating. I get so irritated and anxious with her, especially when there's a possibility she may be coming around. She comes to town frequently and for usually 1-2 weeks and expects us to have dinner with her almost nightly and to hang out and be at her beckon call. My husband goes with it without a thought and he will set aside plans (or lie to her rather than say no) or even invite her out with our friends! But being empathetic, I need preparation and space and I find it disrespectful and cowardly that he rearranges life for her. The thing is, she may be upset if he tells her no, but I wouldn't know because he won't! And really, I think she'd be ok, so long as he doesn't do it more than once because she likes to use the pity card and is always inserting herself asking, "did I do something wrong" when it has nothing to do with her. This type of oerson is someone I would not associate with, for I know what they do to me, but how do I manage it when we're currently living so close to her? Anyone have ANY type of advice for me? Thank you in advance and cheers to all of the empaths out there! We may be a "difficult breed", but we're so beautiful at the same time!!
    Anonymous commented on 30-Apr-2014 02:22 AM
    This makes so much sense! With some people I can feel as though the life is draining out of me!Now I understand that I can do things to protect myself already I feel less vulnerable. Thank you! En
    Betterlife commented on 30-Apr-2014 03:05 AM
    I love how you break down in a simple-but very profound manner your concept of 12 ways of letting go & surrendering to the moment,to happiness,to love & to a BETTERLIFE!!!

    From your biggest fan!!
    Betterlife commented on 30-Apr-2014 03:06 AM
    I love how you break down in a simple-but very profound manner your concept of 12 ways of letting go & surrendering to the moment,to happiness,to love & to a BETTERLIFE!!!

    From your biggest fan!!
    DULCEMARIA ORELLANA commented on 30-Apr-2014 06:01 AM
    Hi Dr. Orloff!
    Who would´ve thought that helping others can put a person at such a risk? Thanks for sharing your wise advice to protect ourselves while helping others.Once I read that the sick person gets better by taking other people´s health. The sick one may not have that intention, however that happens since the exchange of energy is based on a asymetric relationship.
    Take care.
    paulette commented on 01-May-2014 12:55 AM
    thanks for your work, i have more patient and compassion for myself now, the vit c work great, when i get super drain i do a vit c flush and it helps lots.also i found a niacin flush also helps too, that rush of blood seem to cut the anxieties i am picking up.
    your work change my life i feel, accepting of my sensitivity.
    Anonymous commented on 03-May-2014 10:17 PM
    Thank you for recognizing this condition and offering ways to deal with adrenal fatigue. I will get your book. Blessing to you for helping the empaths of the world:)
    Jan commented on 07-May-2014 03:12 PM
    Want to thank you for the presentation you gave at Powell's bookstore in Cedar Hills. This was my first introduction to your books. Right now I am reading The Ecstasy of Surrender and appreciate all that I have read thus far. On page 27 I read,"You are a vessel for this power, never the master of it," Your words made me think of this short prayer---"O God, make me a hollow reed, through which the pith of self hath been blown, so that I may become a clear channel through which Thy love may flow to others." Wishing you well on your journey.
    Christopher Antoine marchand commented on 09-May-2014 12:06 AM
    Iam waiting for a cd from the library ! Iam so excited I can hardly wait !!!!
    jeanne commented on 15-May-2014 02:19 PM
    I am exhausted. When I have the $ I will look into this book! I have weeded my friend garden, avoid places with much negativity, anger yet it seems it is everywhere this days! It saddens me greatly! So there is hope! thanks
    marilyn jones commented on 03-Aug-2014 12:48 PM
    Great advice
    Rebekah commented on 04-Feb-2015 04:45 PM
    I'm curious.....I wonder how many empathic people have Pisces as their moon sign?
    Nuray commented on 19-Apr-2016 01:40 PM
    My moon sign is pisces and I am an empath.
    Kylie commented on 28-Nov-2016 10:04 AM
    Sagittarius and empath. Thank you so much for this article <3. Been battling adrenal fatigue for a long time and am finally taking a supplement called endo-dren. Highly recommend it for anyone. Make sure to get the one that doesn't contain copper.

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