Brain fog is a term that is commonly used to describe cloudy mental thinking, difficulty with focus or concentration or sometimes difficulty with memory or the ability to memorize new information. It is an increasing problem affecting women not just in the 60s and 70s and beyond but women of all ages. It is a sign that something is affecting the brain.
In this article:
Symptoms of Brain Fog in Women
Symptoms vary for each woman and include anything from night sweats to weight gain to thinning hair.
Top 11 Causes of Brain Fog in Women
Stress, Overwhelm and Worry
The first thing to take a look at is the stress level and check in on what’s going on in life. If a woman is stressed out, frequently worried or overwhelmed, this is itself might be the source of brain fog. Stress, worry and overwhelm lead to activation of the stress response system (the fight, flight or freeze reaction or survival mode), which has several impacts on the brain that can lead to brain fog.
It is a super interesting phenomenon most of the women have become accustomed to an unhealthy level of distraction often way more often than realize through the exposure to social media. Evidence is now showing that this is having an impact on the ability to focus so if using social media even daily and have noticed a decrease in concentration and an increase in brain fog.
It is one of the biggest detractors from optimal brain function. Whether it’s adrenal stress, life stress, work shifts or not making sleep a priority in life, not getting enough sleep or good quality sleep can be the singular cause of brain fog.
Blood Sugar Imbalances
The brain relies on a steady source of glucose in the blood for proper functioning including focus, memory, and clarity. To the brain, low blood sugar is like a 4-alarm fire and when this is occurring chronically, it leads to survival overdrive syndrome which is a major contributor to not only brain fog but also dementia. Skipping meals especially breakfast or lunch is a major common cause of low blood sugar for women.
Depression and Anxiety
It flattens out the brain signaling. The neurons just don’t fire with the same frequency as when in a more vibrant mood. Further, the lower levels of neurotransmitters including adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine that accompany depression can impact the ability to focus, remember and feel mentally sharp leads to depression.
Trouble in the Microbiome
Disruptions in the gut microbiome particularly when there’s an overgrowth of a variety of candida, a naturally occurring type of yeast can cause fatigue, anxiety, and depression and can lead to a state of low-level intoxication much like alcohol intake, all of which can affect the focus, memory, and concentration.
This occurs when chemicals and immune system components causing inflammation in the general circulation of the body cross the blood-brain barrier and cause inflammation in the brain and are associated with anxiety, depression, brain fog, and dementia and can occur as a result of anything that causes general inflammation.
Feed the brain by adding in the nutrients the brain requires for health and also that keep out of overall inflammation. The top macronutrients that feed the brains are proteins that make up the building blocks of the neurotransmitters, the chemicals involved in brain and nervous system signaling and fats which are the basis for healthy cells including nerve cells.
Many women report changes in concentration and memory during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and perimenopause. This is largely due to natural fluctuations in estrogen levels and changes in the psyches, desires, and focus that occur cyclically as a result.
Thyroid and Adrenal Imbalances
The thyroid helps in maintaining brain health. Hypothyroidism, when the thyroid is under-functioning, has a known impact on cognitive function, to the extent that even at subclinical levels, hypothyroidism can cause focus and memory problems and over time can cause dementia. The impact of cortisol and adrenaline on the brain both prolonged overexposure or excessively low levels also brings the adrenals and stress response system as a whole into play in brain fog.
Medication Side Effects
Antihistamines, blood pressure-lowering medications, anti-anxiety medications, medications for urinary incontinence some sleep and pain medications and even some antibiotics can cause a feeling of brain fog and affect memory.
Other causes are Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia and age-related cognitive decline, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, lupus, Lyme disease, anemia, diabetes, Sjogren syndrome, and migraines.
How to Get Rid of Brain Fog?
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Get enough rest
- Exercise the body
- Exercise the mind
- Sleep for 8 to 9 hours per night
- Manage stress by knowing the limitations and avoiding excessive alcohol and caffeine
Brain fog can be frustrating but relief is possible. Don’t ignore the symptoms. If left untreated, it can impact the quality of life. Once the underlying cause is addressed, mental clarity can improve.