The cold arrives, and suddenly you notice that you have a downcast mood, less desire to do things, you sleep a lot (or very little), and you also notice fatigue. Yes, all these symptoms do not appear by chance when the season changes but have a name: autumnal asthenia.
Although it usually lasts a few days (or weeks), which is how long it takes for the body to adapt to seasonal changes, we must know how to minimize these symptoms to face autumn with the maximum energy possible.
Why does autumn feel bad for me?
Every year many people ask this question when they notice that fall affects them both physically and emotionally. Science has an easy explanation that has nothing to do with post-vacation syndrome: light. Our brain is regulated by light and, therefore, when the daylight hours are reduced, our behaviour changes.
Serotonin, also known as “the happiness hormone,” is a neurotransmitter related to well-being and good spirits at high levels. On the contrary, when we have low amounts of serotonin, we find ourselves depressed. Well, here comes the key: serotonin production is related to sunlight. Therefore, when there are fewer hours of sunshine, the amount is less, and this causes apathy and sadness.
On the other hand, melatonin, the sleep hormone, also seems to be related to this phenomenon. We produce it when it begins to get dark, and the short days send signals to our brain so that they begin to produce it much earlier than we would like … because our chores do not disappear when autumn arrives, rather the opposite.
What is autumnal asthenia?
Establish healthy routines
We know very well that healthy habits are essential in our life (in general), but they are even more necessary in times like this. That is why experts recommend:
Maintain a varied, healthy and balanced diet. Eat plenty of plant-based products for optimal vitamin intake and supplement with high-quality protein. Eat several light meals and avoid heavy digestions. Sleep the necessary hours, maintaining stable sleep patterns. Take advantage of the shorter days to advance your dinners and go to bed earlier. Do physical activity daily, which will make you secrete endorphins and help you relax. Take advantage of the hours of natural light and try to spend a little time in the sun each day. Maybe your rest at work will be enough to load you with those rays of the sun. Although tiredness and cold are a perfect combination for us to gorge ourselves on coffee or tea, try to eliminate these substances or keep them to a minimum.
More endorphins and energy …
The best combination to give you an energy rush at any time of the day is to sign up for our PRAMA classes, where you can move, get distracted and generate lots of endorphins. Don’t let autumn take away your desire to improve your life, and we are going to make sure that you always leave with a class smile.
Seasonal changes (either from winter to spring or, as in this case, from summer to autumn) produce an alteration in the levels of certain hormones. Two of them are, above all, the most affected: melatonin and beta-endorphin. In the case of autumnal asthenia, these fluctuations can cause us a certain melancholy, sadness, lack of concentration, fatigue, or lack of appetite.
It can happen to us, adults, but also children and adolescents. In reality, it is a transitory state that disappears, but it can also have consequences on their school performance. We spoke with Dr. Fernando Baixauli, a pediatrician at the Vithas Valencia 9 de Octubre, Vithas Valencia Consuelo and Vithas Castellón hospitals, to explain why it occurs, what symptoms and consequences it has, in addition to giving us some tips to counteract its effects and that does not affect them at school.
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What is autumnal asthenia, and what causes it?
Autumnal asthenia, as we have seen, is a transitory state that causes, especially in children, an alteration in their biological rhythm and, therefore, there is a loss of energy, apathy and “a free fall of the body’s defences.” All this occurs, neither more nor less, than by the change of season. As the doctor explains, “the arrival of autumn means fewer hours of daylight, lower temperatures and a hectic pace between school and extracurricular activities.” All this causes an alteration in the levels of certain hormones:
Melatonin, intimately related to sleep and the regulation of our body's temperature that "is associated with this seasonal affective disorder" and with the appearance of a possible depression. It is the main cause of asten autumnal ia. Its production increases with the reduction of sunlight, which causes a decrease in serotonin (known as the happiness hormone) and, therefore, at higher levels of the first, lower than the second, which makes it appear drowsiness, apathy or sadness. Beta-endorphin, which decreases a lot and whose deficiency causes irritability, nervousness, sadness, fatigue and apathy, clear symptoms of autumnal asthenia that we will see below.
Symptoms of autumnal asthenia in children and adolescents
In general, the doctor tells us, “the symptoms of autumnal asthenia should last, more or less, between a week and up to 15 days later.” This is how long it takes for a child’s body to adapt to the new season. During this time, the specialist explains, the symptoms are those that we have already mentioned:
Irritability and nervousness. Moderate tiredness Sadness and apathy. Sleep disturbances.
However, “if the symptoms are clear and last longer than this time, we should take the child to the pediatrician.” Why? Because, as we have seen, the defences go down a lot, and we can begin to find “snot, earache, low-grade fever, weight loss or diarrhea.” In this case, we are no longer just facing asthenia, but “it may be the beginning of some disease, among which colds, gastroenteritis or otitis stand out.” In addition, if it is prolonged in time, even if these diseases do not appear, “energy can decrease a lot in our children,” which indirectly affects their attitude at home and their school performance.