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Brain fog and anxiety

Brain fog and anxiety go hand-in-hand—it can cause anxiety, and it’s also a side effect of those with anxiety.

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July 31, 2022
4 min read

Everything you need to know about brain fog and anxiety

Have you ever felt like your brain has checked out, or is not working as it should be? That’s called brain fog. Over time, the symptoms and effects of brain fog can exacerbate or encourage anxious thoughts and feelings, and we call that brain fog anxiety.

Article breakdown

What is brain fog a symptom of?

Brain fog affects everyone differently, depending on what’s causing it. Most commonly, brain fog is caused by sleep deprivation, dehydration, Covid, lack of exercise, and stress. So if you’re having difficulty concentrating, staying focused or remembering things, you may well be suffering with brain fog, and it’s crucial to get the root of the problem in order to get your brain back on track.

Can anxiety cause brain fog?

On top of the common causes listed above, there are also some very real neurological issues that can cause brain fog, such as anxiety disorders and depression.

When you're anxious, your brain has to work much harder to keep up—it needs more oxygen and nutrients than usual—and sometimes this means that there's not enough left over for other tasks, such as remembering what you had for dinner last night, or being able to focus on conversations with people around you.

Can brain fog anxiety make you feel ‘spacey’?

Yes, anxiety can make you feel spacey, which is a feeling that's sometimes described as being “out of it” or “in your own head”, or like your thoughts are running away with you. This causes you to feel lethargic, forget things, and disconnect and disassociate with people and places around you.

You might have trouble focusing on what someone is saying or paying attention during meetings. It's not just annoying—it can be hard to go about your daily life when you're feeling this way.

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Why does anxiety cause brain fog?

Anxiety is caused by your brain responding to threats in your environment—it starts putting together all the information that could be relevant to your survival, analysing it from every possible angle as fast as it can, so you can react quickly if necessary. This is commonly referred to as the fight or flight response.

This process takes up a lot of energy and resources, so much so that it sometimes causes other parts of your brain to slow down or even shut off completely. This is why when you're feeling anxious, remembering things, concentrating, and focusing on work or hobbies can seem impossible. These symptoms have all the characteristics of brain fog.

How long does brain fog anxiety last?

Brain fog is a temporary symptom of anxiety. It usually comes on when you're feeling really stressed or worried, and it usually goes away after the situation that caused your worry passes. You may feel like you need to take a nap or go for a walk when brain fog hits—that's okay. It doesn't mean anything's wrong with you, it just means that you need to give your body some time and space to relax.

How do you get rid of brain fog anxiety?

There’s no magic cure when it comes to brain fog—but if you’re struggling with brain fog anxiety, there are some things you can do to mitigate your symptoms:

  • Take a nap, or go for a walk and catch a breath

  • Get some fresh air and reconnect with mother nature

  • Try to relax with some deep breathing, yoga, or meditation

  • Focus on easy tasks for a short while, even if it’s household chores

  • Make sure you're getting enough restful sleep

  • Try doing some light exercise like going for a walk or gardening

Brain fog anxiety can be difficult to manage, but by following the steps above, and understanding what’s at the root of your anxiety through therapy or counselling, you can start to ease your symptoms and regain some mental clarity.

If you’re finding it hard to cope with anxiety, or struggling to manage brain fog anxiety symptoms, speak to your doctor or local GP.

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