Chronic fatigue and brain overload

Chronic fatigue and brain overload
  • Brain overload

    Your brain wants to rest

    Due to stress, many people claim that they suffer from chronic fatigue and ennui, have trouble focusing, and are unable to recover from tiredness despite resting.

    According to “Korea Centers for Disease Control medical information” 24% of the patients who visit local clinics are patients who suffer from tiredness. 15~30% of the patients who visited primary health care had continuous tiredness, and it was reported that around 10~20% of the patients showed ongoing or recurring tiredness for more than 6 months.

    Regardless of age and sex, anyone can feel tired, but usually women over men, and people who are 60+ years old over young people show more symptoms of fatigue. Among patients who complain of tiredness, the case where physical disease is the cause of tiredness is less than 50%. Statistics show that for people over 40, it is twice as more likely for the tiredness to be due to their physical illness, compared to people younger than 40.

    More patients are complaining of tiredness due to stress compared to the past, and chronic fatigue incidents are gradually increasing, but since symptoms of tiredness are so various and complicated that there is no specific treatment for it.

    Recent researches have been implying that a protein called “fatigue factor” is the cause of fatigue, and the “tiredness project” at Osaka University in 2012 has led out the solution. If the brain is stressed and confusion occurs, the autonomic nervous system loses its normal function and tiredness occurs.

    Two nerve systems (sympathetic nerve that activates during tense situation and parasympathetic nerve system that activates during relaxed situation) create a balance like brake pedal and accelerator pedal, and play a critical role of maintaining the body’s circulation. It is shown that brain fatigue occurs and worsens when the balance of autonomic nerve system is broken.

    For instance, our eyes get tired if we look at a computer screen for a long time. Here, the part that actually gets tired is the brain, not the eyes. In general, when people look far ahead, parasympathetic nerve activates as the body relaxes, and when people look at something at a close distance, it causes the body to tense and stimulates sympathetic nerves. When working with a PC screen, tensed state is continued and breaks the balance of autonomic nerve system, causing brain fatigue. Therefore the tired brain sends the signal of “eyes are tired”, indicating to stop working on computer screen.

    Memory shows the biggest difference when the brain is tired and not tired. The tired brain cannot fixate memory for a long time. The resistance against stress also weakens. Like this, the impact of brain fatigue is significant, yet there was no effective treatment until today. There are energy drinks available, but this uses caffeine to stimulate the brain and making it difficult to feel tiredness, and fails to maintain the balance in autonomic nervous system. Some people take supplements, but there isn’t enough evidence to support its effect on brain fatigue recovery.

    Many people feel like the following: “tiredness doesn’t go away despite sleeping a lot”, “I rested over the weekend but my body feels heavy”

    Culture and environment of modern people are the background of fatigue. Smartphone that is always held in hands – we are in a situation where it is inevitable for the brain to accumulate stress due to too much information. Also, factors such as irregular living pattern, chronic lack of sleep, child care, work, complicated relationships, drinking, etc hold many different type of stress, thus stress is always accumulated in us. Moreover, working long hours without rest leads to decreased efficiency and increased mistakes.

    According to National Statistical Office’s index of state, Korea’s labor productivity level, compared to major OECD countries, is around 34.3 dollars, which is around half of USA, France, Germany, which is around 60 dollars (2017). There is no other way to explain working the most hours with low labor productivity other than it being due to chronic fatigue.

  • Tired? So is your brain

    We can classify the cause of “feeling heavy/being tired despite enough sleep” into 4 categories.

    • Excessive exercise, working without rest, abusing muscle due to physical labor
    • Environment, emotional tiredness due to stress
    • Tiredness due to disease
    • Tiredness due to the lack of oxygen and nutrients to the body

    We feel muscle being drowsy after long hours of physical labor. In the case of continuously working with a computer, we feel tensing up of the buttocks, back, and eyes. If one is stressed out due to relationships or has an illness, the entire body becomes drowsy, mind becomes apathetic, and mistakes are repeated.

    to relieve this type of stress, people use symptomatic treatments like applying heat or massaging legs/back, and adding eye drops in our eyes. It seems like stress goes away for a second, but it really doesn’t. Feeling “lethargic and tired” is because your brain is tired, not your muscle or eyes. The brain is sending signals through eyes or brain, telling you to stop working. This is the real identity of fatigue.

    To maintain the balance of autonomic nerve system, the brain commands to stop the activity to an overworking body part if there is a slight change in temperature, blood pressure, blood oxygen concentration, etc.

    The reason why most stroke patients are tired is present here.
    Regardless of which category you belong from the 4 reasons above, most people who are exposed to various stress feel chronic fatigue since the brain is actively working and commanding whenever body’s condition alters.