Brain Fog: Meaning and Causes

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If you are feeling bogged down mentally or disconnected from your daily tasks, it is possible you’re experiencing brain fog. What does this mean and what are the causes?

Brain fog, as the name implies, is when you feel like your mind or thoughts are wading through a serious fog. It is difficult to make decisions, concentrate, or stay productive. It may affect a person for a long time.

The truth is, pinpointing what causes brain fog is difficult and the treatment is not equally easy, which can be really frustrating.

A nurse at Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine, Ellen Cooper says, “The common term brain fog is used often to describe a substantial decrease in mental alertness. This can broadly translate into several cognitive deficits ranging from organization and planning to attention and motivation.” Cooper adds that brain fog often causes forgetfulness, a slower processing speed, and a serious lack of concentration. As a result, you’ll likely struggle with productivity and communication.

Common Causes of Brain Fog

The science behind brain fog is not really conclusive. It can be a symptom of various underlying health issues which include:


A common side effect of some medications is brain fog. David Perlmutter, a medical practitioner in New Jersey says, “Medications are identified as the most common cause of brain fog, either in combination or singly.”

Medications for a mood disorder, sleep, cholesterol, blood pressure, and a few more might cause brain fog. If you’re experiencing brain fog and you suspect this may be because of the medication you’re on, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about it.

Sleep Issues

During slow-wave sleep, there is a transfer of memories from a temporary and more fragile location in the brain into more long-term and stable storage.

The prefrontal cortex is the site in the brain where slow-wave sleep is generated, so changes there can have an effect on how much slow-wave sleep we are able to produce each night.

Mental Health

Mood disorders like anxiety and depression can cause brain fog. Medical scientists think this may be because sometimes, mood disorders disrupt sleep. It is also possible that it is a side effect of the medication you might be taking for mood disorders.

Poor Diet

Food is the fuel for both your body and your brain, and healthy eating habits are important for your cognitive function. Without the correct nutrients, your brain will struggle to function.

Brain fog might also indicate that you have a food allergy or sensitivity. For example, a study on people with celiac disease noted that their brain fog eased when they followed a gluten-free diet, seemingly because avoiding gluten eased inflammation.

Chronic Disease

Brain fog is associated with a number of chronic diseases, including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, postural tachycardia syndrome (commonly known as POTS) and rheumatoid arthritis to name a few.

According to medical experts, there could be a few reasons for this relationship. First, it’s believed that chronic disease affects sleep, which in turn affects brain function. Second, many chronic diseases are also associated with inflammation, which has a negative effect on our cognitive abilities.

3 thoughts on “Brain Fog: Meaning and Causes

  • September 9, 2018 at 9:28 am

    I didn’t know such a thing existed. Now I’m more aware and can pinpoint and not only myself, but on others on my company.

  • August 27, 2018 at 4:30 pm

    This is exactly what I’m going through. It was ideal to find this now.

  • July 28, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    Oh wow, there’s more to it then, glad to see that I also read about how I can stop it.


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