Your head is in a jar – at least that’s how it feels. You’re spaced-out, disoriented, forgetful, and can’t focus or think. You’re struggling, and the frustration and anger it generates are making matters worse. Maybe it’s time to learn about brain fog…
Speaking of struggling, our friend above is at work and she’s had enough. It’s as though her brain is going into sleep mode. I mean, the words and numbers aren’t flowing – nothing is. She knows she’s had a lot on her mind lately and hasn’t been sleeping well. But the bottom-line is her head isn’t right, she has no idea what’s going on – and she’s scared.
I’ve been hearing a lot of brain fog talk lately in several circles. Heck, I have bouts with it. Just like our friend, its symptoms upset us because they resemble those of a number of frightening disorders. No doubt, catastrophic thinking can really take its toll.
Well, let’s fight cognitive distortions and fear with facts. Here’s the scoop on brain fog…
What is brain fog?
Brain fog is a syndrome featuring a constellation of signs and symptoms with no easily identifiable cause. Curiously, as common as it is, it isn’t recognized as a medical condition. So it follows that it doesn’t have a formal diagnostic protocol – or direct interventions.
All of that being the case, for my money it’s best to consider brain fog as rather a dashboard warning light. When brain fog rolls in, something’s up that requires our immediate attention.
Though the signs and symptoms of brain fog vary on a per case basis, here are some of the most commonly reported…
- Chronic fatigue
- Vision issues
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
- Odd head sensations
- Pressure in the face
- Disorientation, confusion, feeling spaced-out and detached
- Focus, concentration, and thinking issues
- Motivation challenges
- Creativity and idea production compromise
Again, these are the most commonly reported. The list certainly isn’t all-inclusive.
What causes brain fog?
When it comes to the cause of brain fog, with the exception of medical disorders and their assorted interventions, I think it’s fair to say it’s all about a tired brain. It’s like it’s just worn out, so to catch a break it flips the switch on brain fog.
Maybe it’s the brain’s way of sending us a distress signal. And maybe it’s the brain’s way of protecting us, preventing more complications by partially shutting things down. I’ve said the same about the dissociative states, derealization and depersonalization.
Okay, let’s get more specific regarding the cause of brain fog. But keep in mind, like so many of the syndromes and disorders we discuss here on Chipur, it’s difficult to nail down bottom-line causes. That being the case, we’ll go with triggers, contributors, and risk factors.
My research indicates these are the most common…
- COVID-19: may cause brain inflammation, affecting neural synapses. the stress, anxiety, and isolation associated with the virus may indirectly be a factor
- Hormonal changes and imbalance
- Medical disorders: myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia (“fibro fog”), migraines, sleep apnea, multiple sclerosis, vestibular disorders, nasal/sinus issues, cancer and its treatment (“chemo fog”), anemia, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and more
- Psycho-medical disorders: depression, anxiety, bipolarity and more
- Sleep inadequacy and poor quality
- Diet: poor nutrition and dehydration
- Excessive screen time
- Substance use and abuse
Can you pinpoint others that may be generating your brain fog?
How to treat brain fog
Now that we know what brain fog is and its triggers, contributors, and risk factors (“causes”), I’m thinking it would be a good idea to chat about how to treat it.
Before we get rolling, if you’re troubled by signs and symptoms of what may – or may not – be brain fog, reporting them to your physician is important. ‘Nuff said?
I’m sure you’ve figured out there’s no sure cure for brain fog. Not surprising, given it has few known direct causes and doesn’t even have a formal diagnostic protocol. My point is, it’s possible that any of us could be stuck with one of the unpleasant mysteries of the mind that wants to play stubborn and not go away – or even present episodically. Believe me, I’ve been there many times throughout my decades of living with mood and anxiety disorders.
All I’m saying is, be realistic with your expectations.
Now that we have that handled, if we’re going to do all we can to defeat or manage brain fog, it makes the most sense to address that which is likely causing it. For instance, if it appears the culprit is sleep deprivation, we’re going to do all we can to amp-up sleep time and quality. If we know we’ve ignored addressing a fibromyalgia diagnosis, we’re going to get after it.
Still, I think these are excellent general intervention practices for brain fog…
- Get eight to nine hours of quality sleep per night
- See a physician for suspected contributing medical disorders
- Stress management
- Avoid the excessive use of alcohol, caffeine, and other substances
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Maintain an active mind
- Participate in social and leisure activities
- Pursue the spiritual
- Spend less time in front of screens
- Stay out of your head
Based upon your circumstances, I’m sure you can come up with others that will fit perfectly.
Lift the fog
You feel as though your head is in a jar. You feel spaced-out, disoriented, forgetful – and can’t focus or think. You may have a good old-fashioned case of brain fog. Not at all pleasant, but likely manageable.
And it’s up to you to use your good common sense, research skills, and determination to take care of business…
Lift the fog.
Always be aware that there are hundreds upon hundreds of Chipur articles standing-by to lend you a hand. Dig-in, learn, and find relief.