Ever felt fuzzy, forgetful, or unable to focus and communicate? That could be brain fog. Brain fog is a term that describes problems with focus, memory, logic, and problem-solving. Brain fog is a mild but important form of neurocognitive impairment. It can be caused by a wide variety of things from medications and medical conditions to lifestyle including diet and sleep. It’s not a condition on its own but is usually a symptom of something else. Here are the causes, symptoms, and treatment of brain fog.
Symptoms of brain fog
Fatigue: fatigue even when you may not be able to pinpoint any specific reason for feeling tired.
Forgetfulness and memory problems: finding yourself forgetful of key details of your day-to-day life. Trouble forgetting things you just read or the names of your childhood friends.
Confusion and disorientation: feeling out of place and spaced out.
Being easily distracted: trouble staying on task without being distracted by things around you. Trouble following conversations.
Inability to focus and concentrate: trouble focusing, for example, you find yourself reading the same page over and over because you can’t recall what you just read.
Lack of mental clarity: you feel like you’re in a permanent mental haze. You feel unmotivated and frustrated with your thoughts or emotions dulled or numb. Trouble putting together and finishing sentences.
Trouble problem solving: you feel blocked in your thinking or overwhelmed even when solving small problems like calculating something like an expense.
Slower processing: feels like it takes much longer to think or even complete simple tasks that should be easy. You feel stuck and unable to progress.
Trouble finding words: difficulty finding or recalling common words.
Diminished visual and spatial skills: ever walked into a room and then promptly forgotten why you were there? That’s part of it. Your vision may be blurrier than normal. It may also involve loss of your sense of depth perception making it difficult to accurately judge distances.
Causes of Brain Fog
Stress: chronic stress can cause mental fatigue. When your brain is exhausted, it becomes harder to think, reason and focus. Health: How Stress Changes or Affects Your Brain And Body
Lack of sleep: poor sleep quality can interfere with your brain functions. Poor sleep can lead to poor concentration and cloudy thoughts. 7 Ways To Fix Your Sleep Schedule Especially For Those With Irregular Sleep Patterns
Hormonal changes: hormonal changes can trigger brain fog.
Diet: diet can play a role in brain fog. Vitamin B12 supports healthy brain function and deficiency can cause brain fog. Hunger, dehydration and vitamin deficiencies can also cause brain fog.
Medications: certain medications can cause brain fog. If you notice brain fog while taking medication, speak to your doctor about it.
Medical conditions: medical conditions that may cause brain fog include anaemia, depression, diabetes, migraine, Alzheimer’s disease, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, dehydration, viral infections like COVID-19, and autoimmune diseases like lupus, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. Medical conditions associated with inflammation can cause mental fatigue.
Treatment and management
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids throughout the day. 7 Tricks For Keeping Yourself Hydrated Every Day
- Get enough sleep during the night and take breaks during the day e.g., power naps. 7 Ways To Fix Your Sleep Schedule Especially For Those With Irregular Sleep Patterns
- Reduce stress levels by practising relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
- Decrease caffeine and alcohol.
- Move – exercise regularly, stretch, walk, etc.
- Go outdoors.
- Do something creative like painting, writing, colouring, dancing, cooking, or baking.
- Call a friend or loved one.
- Try gardening. Robust evidence shows that gardening can reduce anxiety and depression and can increase life satisfaction. Lifestyle: Tips For Buying Houseplants For First-Timers
- Consider taking supplements such as iron and magnesium.
- Depending on the severity of the impact it has on your life, consider psychotherapy and support groups.
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