Anxiety head fog

Can Anxiety Give You Brain Fog? I Psych Central

Are you experiencing anxiety and having difficulty thinking clearly? It could be anxiety brain fog.

If you’re experiencing brain fog, you’re not alone. Many of us have experienced a hazy state of mind from time to time.

But when foggy thinking begins to get in the way of your daily functioning, it can cause a host of challenges.

Although brain fog is common, people with anxiety tend to report it more often. But is anxiety to blame, or are there other conditions playing a role in your brain fog?

Although it’s not a stand-alone medical condition, brain fog could be a symptom of several mental health conditions, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It can also result from temporary issues such as a lack of sleep.

If you have brain fog, you may feel spaced out or unable to think clearly. The focus, memory, and word recall challenges associated with brain fog may even cause you to have difficulty completing complex tasks or carrying on conversations.

If these cognitive difficulties continue, you may become less confident in social or work-related situations and avoid encounters where you need to be quick thinking and coherent.

The relationship between anxiety and brain fog is complicated.

A 2019 study suggests that anxiety can disrupt cognitive processes — such as thinking, problem-solving, and decision making — which could lead to foggy thinking. The brain is so busy processing anxious thoughts that it has little room left for these other functions.

But scientists also say that the relationship between brain fog and anxiety can go both ways — as brain fog increases, so can anxiety.

Also, anxiety or stress can activate the fight, flight, or freeze response. When you experience sudden stress, such as witnessing an accident, you may have difficulty thinking clearly and reacting at the moment.

But this cloudiness tends to go away when the stress is resolved.

On the other hand, stress and fear associated with anxiety can be constant. So, if you live with anxiety, you may be continually experiencing the fight, flight, or freeze response, which can result in a persistent mental fog.

Aside from anxiety, temporary issues can also produce cloudy thinking.

These may include the following:

  • Lack of sleep. Even one lost night of sleep can cause slow or cloudy thinking. But if your sleep schedule continues to be disrupted, your brain fog could become chronic (long term).
  • Diet. A pilot study from 2020 suggests that non-celiac gluten sensitivity may cause brain fog. Researchers found that 48% of participants who followed a strict gluten-free diet experienced brain fog after eating gluten. In addition, vitamin deficiencies — including a lack of vitamin B-12 — may cause cloudy thinking.
  • Dehydration. According to October 2021 research, not drinking enough fluids could lead to sluggish mental performance. Scientists suggest that dehydration could impair cognitive functions while being adequately hydrated can improve processing speed.
  • Medications. Several medications can cause brain fog. These include, but are not limited to, chemotherapy drugs, pain medications, and antihistamines.
  • Hormone changes. Fluctuating hormones related to menopause, pregnancy, or hormone-containing medications could result in cognitive difficulties.

Physical health conditions can also produce brain fog symptoms. These include:

  • autoimmune diseases such as lupus and multiple sclerosis
  • diabetes
  • migraine
  • hypothyroidism
  • anemia, or low iron

Mental health conditions that can cause brain fog include:

  • depression
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • dementia

The common cold, influenza or the coronavirus are also known to produce brain fog. Research from 2021 suggests cognitive impairment is a frequent aftereffect of having the coronavirus, which could last several months after recovery.

If you’re experiencing brain fog, you may notice changes in how you think and remember. These changes may include:

  • difficulty focusing on a task
  • difficulty remembering words
  • stumbling through conversations or losing your train of thought
  • fatigue or mental tiredness
  • lacking mental clarity

Over time, these symptoms could cause you to feel less confident in your abilities. This could lead to more anxiety or depression.

But there are things you can do to lessen brain fog and feel like yourself again.

Preventing brain fog is not always an easy task. Foggy thinking can sneak up on you so slowly that you might not notice it until it begins to impact your daily life.

But adopting a healthy lifestyle and effectively managing your anxiety might help keep it at bay.

If you experience brain fog, consider trying simple solutions such as following a sleep schedule, addressing dietary issues, and staying well-hydrated throughout the day.

Here are a few other strategies you could try:

  • Think about adding dietary supplements for brain fog like vitamin B-12 or omega-3 fatty acids if your doctor deems them safe for you. According to a 2018 review, omega-3 fatty acid supplements may improve brain health and cognitive function.
  • See if food allergies or intolerances may be playing a role in your brain fog.
  • Talk with a healthcare or mental health professional about your prescription or over-the-counter medications to see if they may need adjusting.
  • Find ways to manage your anxiety, including deep breathing techniques, meditation, or exercise.
  • Consider talking with a mental health professional about anxiety treatment options.

If these strategies aren’t helping, you might want to consider talking with a healthcare or mental health professional to investigate possible mental or physical conditions behind your brain fog.

Experiencing brain fog along with anxiety can be frustrating. The hazy feeling in your head, combined with word retrieval and cognitive difficulties, can make even the simplest of tasks feel overwhelming.

It’s not your fault. Practicing self-kindness can help you overcome it successfully.

Also, you’re not alone, and there are treatments and self-help strategies to help clear the cloudiness and help you begin thinking clearly again.

Anxiety and brain fog: Symptoms, causes, and treatment

Brain fog anxiety happens when a person feels anxious and also has difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly.

Many conditions may cause anxiety and brain fog, including mental health diagnoses and physical illnesses.

It is normal to experience occasional brain fog and anxiety, especially during times of high stress. However, people who find that anxiety and brain fog regularly interfere with their everyday activities should seek medical attention.

Keep reading to learn more about brain fog, why it occurs alongside anxiety, and some other potential causes.

With brain fog, a person might feel less mentally sharp than usual. Thoughts and emotions may feel numb, and everyday activities may seem to require more effort. Some people describe it as a foggy haze that makes it harder to access their thoughts or plan ahead.

Some examples of things a person might do because of brain fog include:

  • forgetting about a task they had to complete
  • taking much longer than usual to complete simple tasks
  • feeling frequently distracted
  • feeling tired when working

Anxiety takes up mental resources. A person may have to use more energy to focus on something other than their anxiety. They may feel that their anxious thoughts constantly intrude on their thought process. This can make it more difficult to concentrate and think clearly.

The effects of anxiety on various tasks and on brain fog may depend on the specific task a person is doing.

In a 2012 study, researchers gave people various tasks that induced feelings of anxiety. The researchers noted that anxiety made relatively easy tasks difficult, because the tasks required more effort. However, the effects of anxiety on more challenging tasks were less obvious.

The study’s authors speculate that this may be because the difficult task used up more cognitive resources, leaving less space for anxiety. It is unclear if a similar phenomenon might happen in actual-world cases of anxiety.

Anxiety may also undermine a person’s thought process, intensifying brain fog. The tasks a person must perform may trigger further anxious thoughts. For example, a person cleaning their house or filing their taxes may find additional things to be anxious about. This may lead to more anxiety, more brain fog, and greater difficulty completing their tasks.

Some mental health conditions that may cause anxiety and brain fog include:

  • depression
  • anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Physical health issues may also cause anxiety and brain fog.

A 2021 study found that COVID-19 survivors, especially those who had to use a ventilator, had a higher risk of PTSD. This also elevated their risk of brain fog. People with long COVID may also experience brain fog and PTSD.

Chronic fatigue syndrome, which can cause a person to feel frequently exhausted, may cause both anxiety and brain fog.

Brain fog is a symptom, not a medical diagnosis. It can feel different to different people, and they might use the same term to refer to a range of symptoms. Some characteristics of brain fog include:

  • feeling “spacy” or confused
  • feeling fatigued
  • thinking more slowly than usual, and needing more time to complete simple tasks
  • being easily distracted
  • having trouble organizing thoughts or activities
  • forgetfulness, such as forgetting daily tasks or losing a train of thought
  • word-finding difficulties

Since brain fog is a symptom rather than a medical diagnosis in itself, there is no specific treatment for it. However, managing the anxiety, or the condition causing it, may help.

Some treatment options could include:

  • medication, including anti-anxiety medication, antidepressants, or stimulants for ADHD
  • psychotherapy to talk about anxiety and develop coping skills
  • support groups
  • time management systems to help a person remain focused
  • adjustments at school or work, such as extra test-taking time
  • exercise, deep breathing, and meditation

Getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water, and remaining nourished may also help reduce the risk of brain fog. This is especially helpful for people with anxiety that distracts them from self-care.

Some people find that specific self-care strategies may also help. These could include following a schedule, using a reminder app, or taking frequent breaks from whatever could be heightening anxiety.

Learn more about treatments for anxiety here.

Occasional brain fog is normal, especially when a person can identify a clear cause, such as being tired, having a cold, or family stress.

However, people should see a doctor if:

  • Brain fog regularly interferes with a person’s ability to complete daily tasks.
  • A person has problems with daily functioning. For example, they forget to pay bills or often get lost.
  • A person’s memory seems to be getting steadily worse.
  • Self-care interventions do not help with brain fog.
  • A person experiences brain fog much of the time.
  • Anxiety is very intense and does not get better with home treatment.

Numerous medical conditions can cause brain fog. It is important not to ignore this symptom, especially if it does not get better with home treatment.

Some potential reasons a person might develop brain fog include:

  • hunger, dehydration, or vitamin deficiencies
  • neurological conditions such as dementia or a head injury
  • chronic illnesses such as lupus
  • illegal drugs and alcohol
  • certain medications, such as chemotherapy

Learn more about other causes of brain fog here.

Both anxiety and brain fog can severely disrupt a person’s daily life.

Brain fog may make completing simple tasks more difficult. This may lead to worsening anxiety due to missed deadlines and conflict with work or loved ones.

The right treatment can help with both anxiety itself and the brain fog it causes.

A doctor may also be able to recommend self-care strategies. People who are concerned about their anxiety or brain fog should not delay seeking help, especially if the symptoms are severe.

Headache, depression and anxiety: Ulyanovsk doctors spoke about post-covid syndrome in children and adults - Ulyanovsk today

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13:340002 Headache, depression and anxiety: Ulyanovsk doctors spoke about post-covid syndrome in children and adults

The combination of symptoms that occur after an infection has already been included in the international classification of diseases. This was stated by the experts of the regular program “Ask the Doctor”, broadcast by the publishing house “Ulyanovskaya Pravda”. Postcovid syndrome occurs in both infants and older patients. Doctors urge not to postpone visits to the clinic.

— In children, it lasts differently, but based on the medical literature, we can say that the syndrome debuts after 12 weeks from the disease and can last from three months to a year, — said Tatyana Pavkhun, chief freelance pediatric cardiologist of the regional Ministry of Health. - In the wave of omicron, the disorder of the gastrointestinal tract was very noticeable. Moreover, this did not occur on the first day after infection, but later. If parents observe changes in the behavior of the child: lethargy, irritability, or excessive activity, then the first thing to do is to contact the pediatrician. nine0043

The narrow specialist said that her schedule remains busy at the moment. However, this is due to the fact that district pediatricians worry about their patients and send them to see a cardiologist in order to rule out heart disease.

— The pandemic has changed all of us, we began to think differently and quickly collect and compare information. Age in this matter also leaves its mark. If we are talking about an elderly person, then there is a high probability of concomitant diseases: diabetes mellitus, hypertension, a previous stroke, etc. An endless number of patients come and complain about the so-called fog in the head. Well-being is designated precisely as fog, because everyone interprets their feelings differently: someone is worried about forgetfulness, decreased performance, and some even seem to see themselves from the outside. Then there is already depression, sleep disturbance, smell, taste and dizziness, - said Viktor Mashin, head of the department of neurology, neurosurgery, physiotherapy and exercise therapy at UlSU. nine0043

The syndrome can be experienced equally after severe or mild disease. Experts insist that Ulyanovsk residents seek help from doctors at the first call, and not rush to google the names of drugs. They believe that in the era of a pandemic, one should not blame everything on the coronavirus, perhaps the problem is of a completely different nature. Only physicians can fully understand and detail the patient's condition.

Also, in order to minimize the risks of contracting coronavirus, it is necessary to get vaccinated in a timely manner. According to the Ministry of Health, vaccine stocks are now sufficient: for the first component, the volumes are more than 192 thousand doses.

Maxim Krasnov


"Unclear head" syndrome, its complex diagnostics and treatment

"Unclear head" - one of the main signs of astheno-neurotic syndrome If “Unclear head”, “Turbid head” is the feeling with which you get up and lie down, and if increased irritability, fatigue and poor sleep are added to this, most likely, we are talking about

astheno-neurotic syndrome .

Main symptoms: A lot of people complain about "fog in the head", "head like cotton wool", "unclear head" and similar symptoms.

If you notice overwork, sleep disturbance, constant irritability, then you may have a mental disorder called astheno-neurotic syndrome.

Prevalence: This disease is one of the most common "diseases of civilization". It is often referred to as the "management flu". nine0043

The disease affects people who are educated and prosperous. The most characteristic age is from 20 to 40 years. These are entrepreneurs, managers, doctors, teachers. In a special risk group are people whose work is associated with increased responsibility, for example, air traffic controllers.

In the past, astheno-neurotic syndrome was called "nervous exhaustion"

Also at risk are creative individuals.

Causes of occurrence: The main causes of occurrence are stress, prolonged nervous excitement, chronic lack of sleep, constant overwork. Also, factors contributing to the emergence of astheno-neurotic syndrome are past diseases, including colds, some viruses, poisoning, and poor environmental conditions. nine0043

Similar symptoms: What diseases can manifest themselves as "a head as if in a fog", poor sleep, weakness and irritability, except for neurasthenia? First of all, these are asthenic conditions with incipient serious illnesses. In the second - masked depression, which at the beginning can easily be confused with astheno-neurotic syndrome. And chronic fatigue syndrome can manifest itself in a similar way.

So the correct diagnosis can only be made by a psychotherapist or psychiatrist. To make a diagnosis, professional psychological diagnostics (psychotests) are usually used, which you can go through on your own (following this link). nine0043

How the disease develops: The syndrome occurs gradually, with a combination of emotional and physical overstrain, constant fatigue. Most often, patients complain of a breakdown, general weakness, increased irritability, "fog" in the head, inability to cope with the usual amount of work.

If a person continues to be stressed further and does not seek medical help, his condition worsens - tearfulness, complaints about the heart, fog in the head join the usual set of complaints about a "cotton" head. Irritability increases to an extreme degree, but irritation is quickly replaced by weakness. Sleep is usually unstable, does not bring a feeling of rest, after sleep the head is “like cotton wool”. Appetite worsens, constipation or diarrhea may disturb. Sexual desire decreases in both men and women. The condition worsens before a change in the weather (the so-called "weather sensitivity"). In the absence of treatment at this stage, apathy, lethargy, severe weakness and a persistent decrease in mood follow. Interest in life is reduced, the patient thinks only about his painful condition, about his "obscure" head. nine0043

Left untreated, psychotic disorders can develop.

Treatment: Treatment prospects are positive, usually psychotherapeutic methods give excellent results up to a complete cure. In severe cases, a combination of psychotherapy with psychopharmacotherapy is used.

Self-medication usually worsens the condition and leads to the progression of the disease.

At the initial stage of the disease, a psychotherapist, in order to make a correct diagnosis, needs to exclude all diseases in which similar symptoms appear, because the more accurate the diagnosis, the more successful the treatment will be. nine0043

Different diseases with similar symptoms need to be treated differently. Therefore, it is necessary to consult a psychotherapist. A good psychotherapist selects therapy that is appropriate for the specific manifestations of the disease and the individual characteristics of each patient.

Astheno-neurotic syndrome is one of the most common "diseases of civilization". It is often referred to as the "management flu".

The treatment of the syndrome depends on the severity of the painful symptoms, but is primarily aimed at eliminating psychotraumatic factors. It is necessary to reduce both mental and physical stress. This is the most important condition for treatment, without such measures it will not be possible to defeat the disease. In the early stages of the development of the disease, normalization of the rhythm of life, elimination of stress and psychotherapy may be enough to significantly improve the state of health. And, of course, at this stage, psychotherapy methods that do not use drugs give a very good effect - cognitive-behavioral, psychoanalysis, group psychotherapy methods are very effective. nine0043

In any case, you need to contact a psychotherapist.

In more advanced cases, additional psychopharmacotherapy may be required. General tonic drugs, tranquilizers, if necessary, sleeping pills and antidepressants are used. Psychotherapy is also actively used in the treatment of advanced astheno-neurotic syndrome.

The first indicator of improvement is the normalization of sleep and the disappearance of the feeling of "fog" in the head. With timely prescribed treatment, the problem can usually be completely overcome, however, if the tense situation and stress at work and in personal life continue to persist, various complications are possible.

Learn more