What It Really Means When You Get Brain Fog

Sluggishness, inattention, or detachment are just a few of the many words people might use to describe the cloudy cognitive state that is brain fog. Whether chronic or sporadic, brain fog is a unique occurrence as it stands at the intersection of both physical and mental health. The causes for this state of mind vary widely and can range from simply getting a rough night's sleep to a symptom of a possible health condition. If you are someone who regularly experiences brain fog, experts have begun to shed some light on what may be behind this mental phenomenon

Our bodies are sensitive in nature. Pre-wired to respond to an infinite number of stimuli, brain fog can sometimes creep in simply as a response to common everyday activities. This can include feeling full after eating a large meal, oversleeping, lack of physical activity for long periods of time, or a heightened state of stress (via Parsley Health). In these instances, brain fog can be temporary and usually passes. In other cases, brain fog can be more directly related to our health, indicating a possible thyroid condition, depression, or lack of nutrition.

Brain fog can be related to both our physical and mental health

In recent years, experts have begun to uncover more specific connections to brain fog, one being inflammation. In one study, published in 2019 in NeuroImage and conducted through the University of Birmingham in partnership with the University of Amsterdam, scientists discovered after temporarily inducing inflammation in participants, that cognitive functioning decreased in terms of alertness in the brain.

Brain fog can be an unsettling and disorienting experience. When it comes to coping, specialists at San Francisco Neuropsychology (SFN) offer suggestions to lessen the distress associated with the experience as well as to help decrease the frequency of occurrence. When it comes to everyday practices, suggestions include prioritizing adequate sleep, engaging in regular exercise, and reducing one's sugar, alcohol, and caffeine intake since all can interfere with mental clarity. Your emotional wellbeing is just as important, so reaching out to a mental health professional is also encouraged if you find yourself experiencing symptoms related to anxiety or depression. When it comes to brain fog, both our physical and mental health are equally deserving of care and attention.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.