The science behind it and what we can do. Autumn is, for many people, the most beautiful season of the year. Trees and forests colored from yellow to dark red, deep blue skies, the freshest air and clearest sight.
Unfortunately, not all of us can enjoy this time of the year as much. Autumn fatigue or autumn aesthesia hits some of us very hard. In this article we will tell you everything about autumn fatigue, which changes in or outside our body lead to the symptoms that occur when someone’s suffering from autumn fatigue. Most importantly we will tell you what you can do about it.
What is fall fatigue?
Many people are complaining about tiredness, no energy, and a low mood in general during autumn. We tend to commonly say: I have autumn fatigue! But is this a real medical condition? The answer is yes, it is called: “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or SAD. It affects people as the seasons change but mostly during autumn or winter.
Which symptoms are typical for autumn fatigue?
Like the symptoms of depression, they can vary widely. Everyone experiences it in a different way. The symptoms can go being slightly irritated to a severe depression that affects your day-to-day live.
Most common symptoms for SAD are:
- Bad mood
- Negative self-talk often with feelings of despair, guilt, and worthlessness
- Low or no self-esteem
- Lost libido
- Social withdrawal
- Being less active than normal
- Lack of energy
- Sleep for longer than normal and find it hard to get up in the morning
- Brain fog
- Food cravings (sweet or fatty foods)
Autumn fatigue can really affect you and your daily life. Many people who suffer from the condition, are completely normal during the summer months but as soon as the seasons change, their emotions turn them into socially withdrawn, depressive people.
Let’s have a deeper look at this:
What causes autumn fatigue?The natural changes that come along as summer turns to fall can affect our body system in a way it gets out of balance. Those changes are:
Changes in daylight
The change in the amount of sunlight we are exposed to everyday influences how our body reacts and adapts to the outside world in several ways.
Circadian rhythm or the body’s inner clock.
When the sun sets and there is no light entering our eyes, the body starts to produce melatonin, a hormone responsible for feeling tired and sleepy. Day/sunlight inhibits the production of this hormone so it’s totally natural that we feel more energized in summer than in winter.
There is a theory that in SAD, the change of the circadian rhythm due to daylight changes is responsible for the symptoms, although melatonin treatment couldn’t proof effective in all scientific findings.
Exposure to sunlight in relation to vitamin D production:
Vitamin D is produced when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Once UVB rays penetrate the skin, it delivers the energy necessary to produce vitamin D from cholesterol, a fatty acid stored in the skin.
UVB rays can only enter the earth atmosphere through a certain angle. A good way to find out is by looking at your shadow, it should be smaller than you. A thing to take into consideration is that sunscreen blocks both, the healthy UVB rays and the damaging UVA rays.
Vitamin D deficiency can have many effects on health, such as:
- Chronic fatigue
- Trouble sleeping
- Weakened immune system
Do you see a correlation? Boosting your vitamin D intake or production is very important when the season changes. Later, we will show you how.
Serotonin is our happiness hormone. A recent study showed that season changes can also lead to lower serotonin levels in the brain which can cause the feeling of depression.
Brenda McMahon and her colleagues from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark found that a certain protein breaks down serotonin in the body, is 5% higher in people suffering from SAD than in those who don’t.
During the summer months we are super active, staying outside, socializing, travelling. We are doing a lot of things that keep our minds busy and that lift our mood and keep us motivated. This tends to change once we transition into a new season and daylight reduces. All these factors may contribute to a change in our mood or general wellbeing and thus, to the development of SAD.
Changes in the way we eat:
Summer is the season of a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables, refreshing smoothies and tasty salads. During the winter months there is less variety of fresh ingredients available. Furthermore, our appetite increases due to the cold weather. We tend to go for thick soups and warm, rich dishes. This can lead to a general feeling of uncomfortableness because of gaining weight or eating high caloric dishes that make us feel tired, bloated and our will to exercise.
Who is affected?
This condition can basically affect anyone. People with a genetic history of SAD are more predisposed. So, what can you do either to prevent or to combat with the symptoms once they occur?
What can we do about it?
After all this information, it seems like autumn fatigue is inevitable and it hits us all in one way or another. Don’t worry, there is a lot you can do. Let’s have a look at it:
Let’s start with one thing we all love to do, eating. A healthy and balanced diet will always help prevent your body from diseases.
Now, that we have less fresh fruit available, it is more important than ever to give your body all the nutrients it needs. If you are struggling, try our Super Antiox blend. It is naturally rich in many vitamins, like vitamin A, C, E and K. LINK. We have prepared some really tasty recipes for you, that will not only boost your immune system but also your mood.
Here are some foods that are in season, that will help you reach the recommended doses of nutrients: beetroot, apples, pumpkin, and pears. They’re all very tasty and versatile and they’ll help you combat SAD and other autumn related health troubles like a cold for example.
Healthy fats are super important for your cardiovascular systems and for your hormone production, amongst others. Try to eat lots of salmon, olive oil and avocados. They are all rich in healthy fatty acids that will help your body go through this season happily and healthy.
Processed carbs can mess up with our body and mind. Limit those foods in your diet. Try to go for healthy, complex carbs like legumes for example. They are a healthy all-rounder and perfectly available any time of the year. A hot lentil-lemon soup with some coriander will spice up your mood on a cold autumn evening.
Other healthy carbohydrate sources are pseudocereals like quinoa, buckwheat or amaranth and they are all gluten free.
Exercising has been shown to increase serotonin levels. There is a wide range of scientific support. Being physically active helps your immune and cardiovascular systems and helps you to maintain a healthy body weight.
Go and get some fancy rain prove sportswear and go for a run, also, gyms don’t close because of bad weather, you will feel so much better afterwards. We promise you.
Mental health is as important as physical health. If you’re feeling out of balance during this time of the year, try some relaxation techniques. The way we look at things depends on us, and it can be changed. Sometimes we see the world more complicated than it really is.
Relaxation practices like mindfulness, meditation or yoga have shown beneficial effects on our brain. Not one of those “yogies”? Give it a try, you might be surprised positively.
Autumn fatigue is a common term used for a medical disorder called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). There are a lot of people suffering from SAD in the world. Mood changes, tiredness, low energy, and depression-like symptoms are frequent. The natural changes the seasons come with, like reduced daylight or less exposure to sunlight and a respective change in our circadian rhythm may cause it. A healthy and balanced diet combined with physical activity and relaxation techniques are some of the best ways to combat SAD.