Pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysregulation may be the underlying mechanism of many cases of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis. The HPA axis is an important part of our body’s stress response system, and when it goes awry, we can experience symptoms like nervousness or irritability, muscle aches and pains, headaches or other types of pain that are not related to any obvious injury. When this happens chronically over time without proper treatment, it can result in chronic fatigue syndrome.
The pituitary gland produces three major hormones: adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), thyrotropin releasing factor (TRF), and aldosterone. Cortisol is one hormone made by the hypothalamus called cortisone which works with ACTH from the pituitary gland to regulate blood pressure and metabolism as well as fight infection. Another key component in maintaining optimal levels for cortisol production is sleep quality—a lack of healthy sleep patterns will lead to decreased overall cortisol output resulting in increased stress on your endocrine system causing more problems such as restless legs syndrome among other things. Furthermore people who have been diagnosed with non-24 hour circadian rhythm disorder despite having normal diurnal cortisol measures also tend to have high CRH levels indicating a possible link between core body temperature regulation issues associated with low melatonin secretion due to poor nighttime sleep patterns leading to central heating issues at night along with decreased endurance during exercise