It is well known: the arrival of autumn, many people experience a decline in morale and tiredness. For some, this fatigue occurs even at each change of season. Update on the mechanisms involved and prevention.
SEASONAL CHANGES CONDUCIVE TO FATIGUE
Whether the arrival of cold autumn or spring, when nature awakens, it is very common to experience a transient fatigue. If small energy losses are quite normal during the year, they should not become chronic. Thus, recurrent and persistent fatigue related to changes in season must be taken seriously. For some people, it can greatly affect the quality of life, especially during the winter.
The phenomenon is increasingly studied and well known today to take charge and prevent the same, thanks to phototherapy (light therapy). Better to react in time to regain energy quickly.
FATIGUE AUTUMN MECHANISMS
We are all subject to varying degrees. When the days get shorter, the cold sets in, there is less active, more tired, and a small decrease in morale is sometimes suffers. Nothing more normal.
If scientific studies have not clearly identified the causes of this autumn blues, we know that the drop in brightness plays a big role. Different mechanisms probably act in combination, including:
- A circadian rhythm disorder (reducing its amplitude). Our internal clock must be in phase with the light conditions and day / night. The particular organization receives the light through the retina in the eye, which relays the signals to the brain. This is the “conductor” of the circadian rhythm, but it seems that in the fall, a disorder is common.
- Desynchronization or disturbance of the secretion of melatonin (the hormone of sleep).
- A change in brain levels of neurotransmitters (the molecules that serve as “messengers” between neurons), including serotonin, which regulates mood.
- The lack of light stimulation in the retina, “photographic film” from the bottom of the eye, some people would be less sensitive to light.
Result, as the days get shorter, a shift may occur between the internal circadian rhythm and external signals, which sometimes leads to persistent fatigue.
SEASONAL FATIGUE NOT ONLY IN WINTER!
If one knows all the winter fatigue, being exhausted in the spring may seem more unusual. Yet many people have a lack of energy when the vegetation wakes up and the sun warms again. Why? Again, multiple mechanisms. These would include depletion of the immune system, which fought against microbes moult during winter. It is also not uncommon to catch a cold cara handset in the month of April.
Finally, some scientists put forward the idea that the body has to readjust when the days get longer. Put into “hibernation”, metabolism in slow motion during the winter. The body secreted more melatonin, the sleep hormone famous. In spring, the secretions of melatonin and a stimulating neurotransmitter (serotonin) must rebalance. This adjustment phase, which takes a few weeks, may cause fatigue. However, it takes less time to fatigue in the fall.
SAD: A REAL DISEASE
In temperate and Nordic countries, 10% of the population is affected by this syndrome. If it is based on the most stringent diagnostic criteria, the prevalence rather reach 1 or 2% of adults in Europe and North America. SAD is more common in women (almost 4 times more than men), particularly before menopause. Children and adolescents can also be affected, but this condition occurs most often for the first time in their twenties.
Unlike the temporary winter fatigue, this is a real depression, the impact on quality of life can be considerable. The main symptoms are loss of energy, sadness, need to sleep more than usual, increased appetite (sweet cravings) and weight gain. These symptoms, which usually occur in the fall and disappear by themselves in the spring.
WHEN IN DOUBT, A REVIEW IS REQUIRED
Persistent fatigue is never normal. It can be a sign of a more serious problem, such as chronic illness, or depression (this is also the main symptom of depression). Certain infectious diseases such as mononucleosis, may also lead to fatigue.
So when the hard fatigue, do not hesitate to consult your doctor. It will probably perform a blood test in addition to a medical examination. This will rule out some causes of chronic fatigue, such as hypothyroidism or anemia (iron deficiency).
In most cases, however, the examination revealed nothing abnormal. The best way to regain his form will be to continue to stay active in the winter, especially by practicing regular physical activity to maintain good sleep habits and adopt a balanced diet while waiting for sunny days!
SAD: HOW TO PREVENT IT?
If you are prone to seasonal depression, some measures may limit the intensity of your blues:
– Remove as much as possible from home, even in winter, to take advantage of the sunlight (brightness apartment is small);
– Whatever the weather, spend as much time as possible outside and make a moderate physical activity (walking, cycling, for example to get to work);
– Playing sports on a regular basis, if possible outdoors.