Mental fog or foggy thinking is common, especially among older people who often complain about having trouble remembering things. The truth is that changes in our bodies as we age can disrupt regular brain operations, including some that we’ve come to rely on all our lives. Memory and comprehension are slower as a result.

Factors, including overwork, insomnia, and stress, can all impair cognitive function. Foggy thinking is annoying, but there are ways to clear it up. Do not disregard your health symptoms like poor concentration memory. In addition to lowering the quality of life, untreated brain fog has been linked to Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.

Fortunately, this article discusses some common causes of brain fog, how to identify the situation, and how best to manage the condition.

Understanding Brain Fog

Brain fog is a sign of underlying health issues rather than a disease in and of itself. Memory loss, confusion, and a lack of concentration are all symptoms of this cognitive impairment.

It has been likened to mental exhaustion by some sufferers. Depending on how bad your brain fog is, it could make it hard for you to focus on your studies or work. Yet, it need not become a constant in your life.

Causes of Brain Fog

Brain fog causes range from Insomnia, an excess of sugar in the diet, depression, an underactive thyroid, or even a vitamin deficit. Excessive eating, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, persistent stress, and unhealthy diet also contribute to brain fog.

Here is a detailed cause of brain fog:

Food Allergies and Nutritional Deficits

Vitamin B12 aids in the production of red blood cells, which also keeps your neurological system functioning normally. That’s why a lack of B12 will leave you feeling tired and zap your energy. Low vitamin D levels are linked to cognitive decline; therefore, this may be another cause of brain fog.

The haziness you’re experiencing may result from an intolerance to a specific meal that you haven’t yet pinpointed. For instance, the inflammatory processes triggered by gluten sensitivity can result in cognitive impairment. If you suffer from mental fog, an elimination diet, food allergy testing, or advanced blood tests to examine, nutritional levels may help pinpoint the source.

Hormone Shifts and the Resulting Mental Fog

Changes in hormone levels can happen at any time in a woman’s life, including before and after childbirth, menopause, and even in response to sudden shifts in one’s surroundings and way of life. One study indicated that 60% of women struggle to concentrate throughout menopause, possibly related to the hazy, disoriented feeling that commonly comes with these periods.

You may be experiencing brain fog because of a shift in your mood or sleep schedule, but it may also result from your hormones, which are shifting as your body attempts to reestablish equilibrium.

Chronic Stress

While the term “stress” is relatively ubiquitous, the physiological effects of prolonged exposure to stress are anything from benign. Once your body detects stress, it prepares you for either fight or flight by stimulating your sympathetic nervous system (SNS).

This reaction causes the body to release adrenaline and norepinephrine, respectively, directing the body’s resources away from their normal uses and toward dealing with the stressor.

This can lead to foggy thinking, trouble concentrating, and mental fatigue. Meditation, physical activity, and dietary modifications are all ways to gradually lower stress levels, which may help clear the fogginess from your mind. Also, 2017 studies confirmed that prolonged emotional strain had adverse health effects, including elevated blood pressure, lowered immunity, and the onset of depression. It can also lead to mental exhaustion.

Image alt text: Causes of brain fog: An emotionally stressed woman with foggy thinking.

Author credits: By MismibaTinasheMadando, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Anxiety and Depression

Studies have shown that mental health conditions like anxiety or depression can adversely affect your ability to think clearly and make sound decisions.

This may be caused by the decrease of vigor and motivation related to mental disorders, or it may result from physiological impacts on your brain that impede normal functioning. Depression and anxiety can be treated; discuss your choices with your doctor.

Impaired Sleep

Your internal body clock, or circadian rhythm, is disrupted by bad sleep habits like waking up at odd times, staying up late, and exposing yourself to blue light in the hours leading up to bedtime. This leads to mental haziness in several ways.

Having trouble learning and retaining information is one of the many adverse outcomes of poor sleep hygiene and chronic sleep deprivation.

Health problems

Medical disorders, including inflammation, exhaustion, or fluctuations in blood sugar levels, can also cause mental weariness. For instance, chronic fatigue syndrome- characterized as “persistent weariness over a lengthy period,” is associated with cognitive fog. Daily mental cloudiness is a common symptom for many persons with fibromyalgia.

Here are other medical conditions that causes brain fog:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Dehydration
  • Anemia and diabetes
  • Certain viral infections

With the knowledge of the causes of brain fog, let’s know some of the symptoms of mental fog

How Do Brain Fog Feel?

The symptoms of brain fog can appear differently depending on the individual. You might be exhausted and confused, and they might be feeling absent-minded and scattered. Although the two conditions are perceived in distinct ways, they are both examples of “brain fog.”

Some of the most often encountered signs include:


People with chronic fatigue syndrome often feel exhausted. You’ll have persistent fatigue that makes regular tasks difficult. Regardless of your sleep quality, you can’t seem to get over how tired you feel.

Dealing with persistent mental exhaustion can be quite challenging. It can make it difficult to focus, worsen existing discomfort, and isolate you from friends and family. Eventually, this can cause loneliness, irritability, and sometimes depression.  

Subconscious Obscuration or Clouded Conscious

The term “brain fog” refers to this specific condition. Your perception, comprehension, and logical reasoning are all impaired. You have difficulty reacting to the world around you because you feel detached from it.

Lack of mental clarity has a significant effect on your regular life. You might walk into traffic because you didn’t hear someone call out to you. Even if you manage to pull yourself together, you might forget all that transpired while your mind is confused.

Inability to Concentrate (Little or No Focus)

Focus is the ability to concentrate on a single task without letting in any extraneous noise or movement. Concentration is essential for blocking out distractions and staying on goal.

Individuals suffering from brain fog sometimes struggle to concentrate. It’s not uncommon to find yourself daydreaming or fidgeting with your phone instead of focusing on the task. It takes extra time to go through challenging activities since your attention wanders.


Disorientation makes it challenging to think clearly and decide on a course of action. You might also feel confused, disoriented, and speechless.

With confusion, you may also experience various symptoms like fluency issues, taking an extended pause in the middle of a sentence, abnormal or illogical syntax and vocabulary, a lack of orientation, and an inability to keep time.


Occasionally forgetting something is to be expected. It’s easy to forget things, like finishing a load of laundry to leave it in the dryer all night.

Yet, worrying about forgetfulness is not uncommon. You could seriously endanger yourself or others if you habitually leave the oven on when you leave the house.

Talk to your doctor if you’re having trouble remembering things, feeling confused, or staying focused. They can put you in touch with a specialist in memory disorders who can evaluate your symptoms and conduct tests to rule out more severe forms of cognitive impairment.

Diagnosing Brain Fog

To rule out more severe causes, a physician will perform a medical exam and inquire about your diet, physical health, and current drugs or if you’re taking supplements for psychological health.

Report any other symptoms you may be experiencing to your doctor. They may also conduct some blood tests to determine the following: 

  • Presence of infections
  • Inflammatory illness
  • Nutritional
  • Fluctuations in glucose levels
  • Impaired function of the liver, kidneys, and thyroid

Your doctor will evaluate the findings and decide if further examination is necessary. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans, can provide an inside look at the body and help diagnose. If the doctor suspects a sleep condition, they may request a sleep study or perform allergy testing.

How to Treat Brain Fog

The first step in getting help from a doctor for brain fog symptoms is figuring out what’s causing them.

Simply put, the treatment for brain fog is condition specific. In the case of anemia, for instance, iron supplements may boost red blood cell production and lessen symptoms of mental fogginess.

Also, doctors may use corticosteroids or other medicines to relieve inflammation or inhibit the immune system if an autoimmune illness is discovered. Therefore, clearing your mind might be as simple as addressing a dietary deficiency, trying a new medication, or getting a more restful shut-eye.

Here are some of the strategies to help manage most brain fog causes:

Maintain an Active Lifestyle

Exercising regularly is good for your heart, brain, and overall health, and it’s one of the most recommended daily routines you must keep for healthy heart health. It raises the brain’s glucose and oxygen levels and releases endorphins. Also, it promotes the growth of new brain cells and helps the body get rid of the stress hormone cortisol. In fact, regular exercise is one of the most effective ways to maintain and enhance brain health.

Hence, you may suffer from severe brain fog if you aren’t physically active enough. But you can fix this without engaging in strenuous exercise. It’s simple to provide your mind with periodic jolts of energy.

Image alt text: Managing foggy thinking through regular partner workouts for improved moods and brain concentration

Author credit: By Adewuyi Israel, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress raises your chance for just about every serious illness like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. And brain fog is just one of the many adverse outcomes of prolonged exposure to stress. Cortisol- the stress hormone- is generally healthy in reasonable quantities.

However, excessive cortisol can cause the production of free radicals and unpaired oxygen atoms. These radicals can be harmful to your brain cell membrane.

When the membranes of brain cells are broken, the cells cease to function correctly and eventually die. The stress hormone cortisol prevents new brain cells from developing to maturity and triggers the “suicide” of immature brain cells. So, you must try as much as possible to manage your stress levels:

Here are some of the stress management strategies:

Meditation: Meditation is the most effective method for reducing stress and has numerous other advantages. In fact, there are more than 11.8 million regular meditators in the US. Think of it as mental push-ups. The United States Marine Corps use meditation to help service members cope with the stresses of military life.

Meditation can increase one’s well-being, IQ, and resistance to life’s inevitable setbacks when practiced regularly. Regular meditators have greater attention and concentration, creativity, decreased stress, and enhanced sleep quality. Studies show that it can even make you look and feel 12 years younger.

Relaxation techniques: Besides using meditation, you can choose body and mind relaxation strategies like self-hypnosis, diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle options, and emotional freedom training to relieve your stress.  

Check for Hormonal Imbalances

Brain fog can be made worse by thyroid problems function, adrenal insufficiency, and chronic fatigue syndrome. The same things that promote inflammation also create hormone imbalances, including eating poorly, developing hypersensitivity and allergies, experiencing excessive stress, and not getting enough sleep.

Dietary changes that promote biological hormone balance and a reduction or elimination of caffeine, alcohol, and white carbs” will assist with recovering your energy and resolve underlying hormonal disorders. You should also avoid processed foods and hydrogenated oils because they both deplete your energy and make you feel exhausted.

Get Quality Sleep

Over seventy sleep problems affect at least 50-70 million people in the United States. One of them could be you if you suffer from brain fog. Sleep is essential for both the immediate and future functioning of the brain. The brain is “power washed” during deep sleep to remove waste products. In addition, the information you learned the day before is consolidated throughout the rest.

The brain naturally ages and loses cells steadily, but if you get enough good night’s rest, you can replace them. Insufficient sleep can negatively impact your capacity to learn, remember, think clearly, solve problems, and deal with stress the next day.

The mental impairment caused by missing just one night’s sleep is comparable to being extremely intoxicated. Consequently, if you suffer from brain fog, getting enough sleep might help immensely.

Getting a quality night’s sleep can do wonders for clearing your mind, and modifying even the smallest of your routines can profoundly affect the quality of your slumber.

Here are a few tips to help you get a better night’s rest:

Avoid eating late at night: As a general guideline, you shouldn’t eat within two to three hours of going to bed. But if hunger strikes, munch on something with good protein and carbohydrates.

Cut back on the coffee: Caffeine may be the fuel that keeps us going, but it also has the potential to cause sleeplessness, tension, worry, and even panic attacks. If you drink your coffee in the morning and try out various “cut-off timings,” you may sleep better at night.

Maintain regular hours: Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule as much as feasible. Supplemental melatonin may help reset your biological clock if you have an irregular sleep cycle.

Get Some Supplements

The mental fog can be lifted, and the engines of a healthy lifestyle can start turning with the help of the proper nutrients. Yet, nothing can replace a balanced diet, plenty of sleep, exercise, and a fulfilling social life.

Supplements and even self-help therapies may not be able to improve your mood if the brain’s essential hormones are out of whack. So, to hasten your recovery, you should first implement the aforementioned lifestyle adjustments that are most relevant to you and then think about trying out some supplements.

Here are some of the supplements to consider:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: The brain has exceptionally high omega-3 necessary fatty acids. They are essential in maintaining healthy brain function and memory but are mostly absent from the modern Western diet. Therefore, ensure you include foods like salmon, trout, sardines, or any other fatty fish.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D can make you feel better overall, clear your head of mental haze and depression, sharpen your memories, and enhance your capacity to solve problems. So, ensure to get adequate sun exposure for better brain health.

Vitamin B12: It’s possible that a lack of vitamin B12 is to blame for memory loss and general brain confusion. About 40% of people have low levels of this vitamin, making it among the most widespread deficiencies.

Deficiencies in vitamin B12, while not uncommon, can cause a host of cognitive and psychological problems. Higher deficiency is noticed in the elderly-who, who have decreased digestive capacity, and vegans, primarily since vitamin B12 is mainly obtained from animals. So, ensure you eat healthy animal supplements to boost your brain functions.

Take Care of Potential Food Sensitivities or Allergies

Impairment to the stomach and brain occurs when people with food sensitivities don’t eliminate all potential triggers from their diets. Besides, lactose intolerance, for example, is not limited to the digestive system, and they have the potential to induce substantial alterations to the gut microbiota.

Allergies cause inflammation, interfering with the body’s ability to do anything from absorbing nutrients to producing hormones. Therefore, avoid any food substances or elements that put you at risk of allergies.


Foggy thinking, mental disorientation, and inability to concentrate are all brain fog symptoms. Lifestyle issues such as poor nutrition, excessive stress, insufficient rest, and physical activity might contribute to mental cloudiness. Sometimes it results from a medication’s side effects or an underlying health problem.

Hence, take charge of your health and adopt a brain-healthy lifestyle by eating well, exercising frequently, getting plenty of rest, and checking for hormone imbalance. Also, figure out how to keep your health under control, including any underlying illnesses and drugs you may be taking.