September 16

Causes of Brain Fog

Brain fog can be experienced as confusion, lack of mental clarity, inability to focus, and forgetfulness. For some individuals, they may experience feeling disoriented or distracted, or regular daily tasks may take longer to complete. These experiences of brain fog are a common characterization of this state.

What Is Brain Fog? 

Experiencing brain fog can be a scary occurrence. Especially if it seems to be happening frequently. You may begin to worry about the impact it has on your day-to-day life. Many people use the phrase “brain fog” in different ways, but what is it? Brain fog is not a medical condition but can be a side effect from other underlying conditions.  

Brain fog can be experienced as confusion, lack of mental clarity, inability to focus, and forgetfulness. For some individuals, they may experience feeling disoriented or distracted, or regular daily tasks may take longer to complete. These experiences of brain fog are a common characterization of this state. 

If you find yourself overworking, persistently stressed out, or have a lack of sleep, you may be laying the ground work for brain fog to manifest itself. When evaluated from a biological stance, brain fog may also be due to a cellular change in the body. High levels of inflammation and hormonal changes that determine mood and focus may contribute to your brain fog. Individuals may also be susceptible to other conditions once brain fog is present, such as obesity, hormonal imbalances, and diabetes.  

What Causes Brain Fog? 

Brain fog can be disorienting and frightening. Your ability to think clearly becomes impaired and the effects on your cognitive function become apparent. Because brain fog is typically a symptom of another condition, this type of cognitive dysfunction may have several explanations. Some potential causes of your brain fog may be: 

Depression: Depression is a mental illness that can take a significant toll on your thinking, behavior, and mood. As mental health conditions/concerns increase, the more likely you are to experience brain fog. Your ability to think clearly becomes affected because your brain functioning changes. These changes impair the brain and prevent it from working as effectively as it could.  

Sleep Deprivation: Lack of sleep, whether it’s one day or several days can negatively impact your ability to think clearly or focus. You may be suffering from insomnia (which may require medical supervision) and find yourself becoming easily confused. Poor sleeping habits can increase your feelings of disorientation, distraction, and fogginess. 

Anxiety/Stress: When you experience anxiety and stress, your ability to focus becomes negatively impacted. The anxious anxiety that may consume you also exhausts your brain. Your cognitive energy becomes hyper focused on what is stressing you out, and you begin to lose your present focus. This creates mental exhaustion. When you are mentally exhausted, your memory suffers, your ability to focus suffers, and your mental health suffers. If you find your mental health degrading, it becomes harder to think, reason, and focus. This will only compound your daily confusion.  

Hormonal Changes: Shifts in hormones can greatly impact your physical and emotional health. When your body experiences high levels of anxiety and stress, your brain also releases “stress hormones.” The brain releases cortisol, and elevated cortisol levels impact your cognitive functioning negatively. This feeling of “burn out” occurs from the weakening connection in the brain due to these stress hormones. Also, elevated estrogen and progesterone that naturally occurs during pregnancy causes noticeable shifts, colloquially referred to as “pregnancy brain.” And attention to details and focusing on tasks begins to feel impossible.  

Diet: The brain (just as the rest of your body) requires proper nutrition and care. If your diet is composed of unhealthy food that do not support cognitive functioning, your ability to maintain mental clarity is impacted. It is critical for your brain to receive nutrients such as iron and vitamin B-12. 

Medications: It is not uncommon for some people to experience brain fog from certain medications. These prescriptions may have side effects that include cognitive disfunction. Your medication may cause you to be confused or have an inability to focus. You may find yourself experiencing increased fatigue. It is critical that you discuss any of these side effects experienced with your doctor. You may need to adjust the dosage of your medication or change it entirely.  

What Does Brain Fog Do To Your Mental Health? 

Mental clarity and the ability to focus are interconnected to brain health. Sometimes, it may also feel like a “chicken and the egg” situation. If you suffer from a mental illness, your risk for brain fog increases. And with the inability to concentrate or finding yourself unable to complete daily tasks, you may become disheartened and find your mental health deteriorating. Dark thoughts and cloudy thinking become intertwined.  

Your cognitive disfunction can have an impact on your mental health. Sometimes the causes of your mental illness and your brain fog may be triggered by the same catalyst. High levels of stress, poor diet, and hormonal imbalances can lead to an increase of brain fog and exacerbated symptoms of mental illness.  

Interestingly enough, a common cause for both mental illness and brain fog can be traced to brain inflammation. Inflammatory responses in the brain foster depression symptoms, anxiety, and exhaustion. And the way inflammation manifests in the brain, so does cognitive dysfunction. When the brain’s ability to produce neurons becomes affected, communication between the cells becomes difficult. These responses are so similar it may make it difficult to determine which symptom is caused by what.  

How To Treat Brain Fog 

Determining how to treat your brain fog is contingent on determining its cause. Some minor and moderate lifestyle changes can significantly improve your brain fog and its related symptoms. Some changes that may help your cognitive dysfunction are: 

  • Diet Change: Improving your diet with healthier food choice encourages brain health 
  • Meditation: Decreasing your stress levels can encourage positive thinking 
  • Sleep: Enough sleep and rest will support brain health 

Other options to foster a healthy brain environment and improve brain function would be the incorporation of vitamins and supplements. Some vitamins to consider incorporating in your daily routine are: 

  • Ginseng: Helps regulate the body’s immune responses and stress induced hormonal changes 
  • Fish Oil: The omega 3 fatty acids improve brain function, vision, and motor skills 
  • Ginkgo Biloba: The anti-inflammatory effect improves mood, increases energy, and improves memory. It can also help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Vitamin B Complex: These vitamins encourage your body to make and store energy from your food and red blood cells. They also assist in proper bodily functions and the digestive system.

What To Take Away 

While brain fog can be frustrating and inconvenient, there are things you can do to improve your brain’s ability to function. The important thing to do is not ignore symptoms, regardless of how mild they may appear. If left untreated the quality of your life may be negatively impacted. Relief from brain fog is possible.  


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