Written by Dr. Valentina Quintana MD on
December 21, 2021
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Dr. Valentina Quintana MD on:

Brain fog is a common condition that can make it difficult for you to think clearly. It’s not a medical term, but what it feels vary to people.

Some people say they feel like there’s a cloud in their mind or a haze over what they’re trying to remember.

That confusion and difficulty thinking may be what brain fog feels like for you, too.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss what does brain fog feel like and how you can manage it.

So, let’s get started.

What exactly is brain fog?

Brain fog is a term used to describe what you feel when your brain isn’t working properly.

It’s the feeling of being completely unable to think clearly and concentrate, no matter how much effort you put into it or what strategy you use.

That frustration can make people want to give up trying, so they don’t feel incompetent anymore.

Brain fog can make it difficult to focus on what you’re reading, remember things or even have a conversation.

Some people also describe brain fog as feeling tired and groggy, like you’ve been running a marathon and haven’t slept in days.

It’s not just the mental symptoms that can be frustrating, but the physical ones too.

People with brain fog often feel exhausted and have a hard time motivating themselves to do anything.

Brain fog can make you feel like you’re moving through life in slow motion.

What does brain fog feel like?

As I mentioned earlier, what brain fog feels like can vary from person to person.

But, there are some common symptoms that people experience.

If you’re wondering what does brain fog feel like for other people, here are some of the most common symptoms:

  • Difficulty thinking and concentrating
  • Feeling overwhelmed and stressed
  • Feeling exhausted
  • Having a poor short-term memory
  • Difficulty finishing what you start
  • Forgetting what you’re trying to say
  • Feeling disconnected from reality
  • Having trouble understanding what people are saying to you
  • Being unable to remember names or faces when meeting new people
  • Trouble following directions.

And, if the symptoms are severe enough, brain fog can have a major impact on what you’re able to do.

That may mean it’s difficult for you to get up in the morning or go out with your friends at night.

In the most severe cases, brain fog can keep you from working or going to school.

Causes of Brain Fog

Brain fog is a common symptom that people experience when an illness or condition affects their nervous system.

Some of the most common causes are the following:

Stress

Stress can be one of the major causes of brain fog.

When you’re stressed, your body produces a hormone called cortisol that can make it difficult for your brain to function properly.

It’s also linked to memory loss and difficulty concentrating.

Sleep Deprivation

Lack of sleep, especially on a regular basis, can also cause brain fog.

Sleep helps your body recover from the day and prepare for what’s coming next.

It gives you time to process what happened during the day and make sense of it all so that things aren’t as confusing or overwhelming when you wake up in the morning.

If you’re not getting enough sleep, your brain won’t be able to function as well as it should, and you’ll likely experience some symptoms of brain fog.

Anxiety and Depression

Depression and anxiety can both lead to brain fog.

When you’re feeling down, it’s often difficult to concentrate on anything or get anything done.

You might also have trouble sleeping, which will only make you more tired and stressed out during the day.

And, what does brain fog feel like for some people is a lack of motivation to do much of anything at all.

Diet

A poor diet can also be a major cause of brain fog.

When you’re eating foods that aren’t good for your body, it’s going to have an effect on what’s happening inside and outside of your nervous system.

That means not only may it make it difficult for your mind to function properly, but it can lead to other health problems as well.

Some of the most common foods that can cause brain fog are processed foods, sugary drinks, caffeine, and alcohol.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes can also be a cause of your brain fog.

Women often experience what’s called PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, when they have symptoms including depression and lack of motivation that are difficult to manage.

That’s because hormones change throughout the month in women who are menstruating, which makes women feel even worse.

Complex or Multiple Conditions

If you’re experiencing brain fog along with other symptoms, it’s possible that you have complex or multiple conditions.

Some of the most common conditions that include brain fog as a symptom are:

  • Lyme Disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Lupus
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Medication Side Effects

Some medications can also cause brain fog as a side effect.

Antidepressants, antihistamines, and painkillers are the most common culprits when it comes to what’s causing your brain fog symptoms.

If you take medication and are experiencing brain fog, it’s important to talk to your doctor about it.

How to Manage Brain Fog

If you’re experiencing brain fog, there are some things you can do to manage what’s going on.

First, it’s important that you get a doctor or health care provider involved so they can diagnose what is happening and help you get the right treatment.

Second, there are some natural ways to relieve your symptoms that don’t require medication:

Exercise Regularly

Exercise has been shown to help improve symptoms of brain fog, including memory loss and difficulty concentrating.

Try exercising for at least 30 minutes a day.

Eat Healthily

Eating healthy foods that are good for your body can also help relieve what’s going on with your mind. ┬áMake sure you’re eating the following:

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Lean proteins
  • Healthy fats

And limit your consumption of too much caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods since these can have a negative effect on your brain and can bring about brain fog symptoms.

Get Enough Sleep

This is one of the most important things you can do to help improve your brain function.

Make sure you’re getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

Reduce Stress

When you’re stressed out, it’s going to be hard for your mind and body to function properly.

Manage what’s stressing you out so that it doesn’t affect your brain fog symptoms, including:

  • Your diet
  • Your exercise routine or lack thereof
  • Your emotional stress is caused by the people in your life such as friends, family, coworkers, and others.

Take Breaks Throughout the Day

When you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, it’s important to take a break and step away from what you’re doing.

This will give your brain time to process what happened during the day and make sense of it.

Brain Fog Vs. COVID Brain Fog

Brain fog and COVID brain fog are similar but not quite the same.

COVID brain fog is a more severe form of brain fog that’s caused by the coronavirus.

If you’re experiencing COVID brain fog, it’s important to get medical help right away because this type of haze can last for a few weeks to a few months.

Concluding Thoughts

Brain fog can be difficult to deal with, but by understanding what it is and what’s causing it, you can take the necessary steps to manage your symptoms.

If you’re experiencing brain fog and don’t know what to do, talk to your doctor or health care provider. They will be able to help you figure out what’s going on and how to get the treatment you need.

If you want to learn more about dealing with brain fog and taking care of your overall brain health, check out these educational resources and feel free to join this community of mental health enthusiasts.

Join The Mental Health Community You've Been Dreaming Of


This discord family is a safe place where we can all (anonymously if we choose) talk about and seek help for what is going on in our heads.

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