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What causes brain fog?

To banish brain fog for good, it’s important to identify precisely what’s causing it.

mental-wellbeing 04 icon
July 31, 2022
5 min read

Brain fog can be hard to describe, but most usually it feels like your brain is in a haze or swimming through jelly. Brain fog can make it difficult to function—you know what you need to do, but it takes forever to get the words or actions out of your head and into the real world. It's like your mind is moving at a snail's pace.

Thankfully, once you get a hold of the causes of brain fog, you can start to take positive steps towards mitigating your symptoms and clearing the fog for good.

Article breakdown

What is foggy brain a symptom of?

Brain fog is a common name for a group of particular symptoms, and is usually caused by sleep deprivation, dehydration, Covid, lack of exercise, and stress. But there are also some very real neurological issues that can cause brain fog as well—such as anxiety disorders or depression. Brain fog can also be a symptom of:

  • Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland)

  • Anemia (a lack of red blood cells)

  • Sleep apnea (a disorder that causes you to stop breathing for short periods during sleep)

  • Head trauma or injury

  • Alcohol and drug use

  • Medications (including antibiotics)

  • Vitamin deficiencies

These sound a little scary—so if you’re having difficulty concentrating, staying focused or remembering things, you may well be suffering with brain fog. Thankfully it’s not usually a sign of a serious medical condition, and often resolves itself after a few days or weeks.

If you're constantly feeling tired and it's affecting your day-to-day life (like not being able to hold onto conversations or complete tasks), talk to your doctor or GP. They can help you figure out what's behind ongoing brain fog and how best to treat it.

What kind of deficiency causes brain fog?

There are many different types of vitamins and minerals that can contribute to brain fog if you’re not getting enough. A common deficiency that encourages brain fog is a lack of iron, which can lead to:

  • Anemia

  • Fatigue

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Headaches

Vitamin B12 deficiency is another common cause of brain fog. If you're not getting enough B vitamins in your diet (from foods like meat or whole grains), they won't be able to get into your bloodstream where they're needed by your body's cells; this can leave you feeling:

  • Tired and weak

  • Confused

  • Forgetful

  • Moody

  • Depressed

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What causes Covid brain fog?

It's not clear why Covid causes brain fog, but it could be the result of an overactive immune system, which causes inflammation, or it could be the lasting damage Covid does to your organs. Whatever the reason, Covid brain fog is one of the most commonly reported side effects of an infection, and persists with those suffering from long-Covid.

What causes brain fog in the morning?

Brain fog is most commonly caused by poor sleep, so it makes sense that the mornings are the most troublesome for brain fog sufferers. Brain fog in the morning is often accompanied by difficulty concentrating, headaches, and fatigue later in the day, which only exacerbate any pre-existing sleeplessness—you can see why brain fog is so difficult to shift.

Is brain fog a mental illness?

Brain fog isn’t officially recognised as a mental illness, it’s not even a recognised medical condition. Brain fog is characterised as a group of symptoms which are all common side effects of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

How do you treat brain fog?

  • Get enough z's—Sleep is crucial for brain health, so be sure to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and if you're struggling, try slipping in the odd afternoon nap.

  • Drink plenty of H2O—Dehydration can bring on a serious bout of brain fog. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, and if you're bored of water, try fruit juices and teas.

  • Get some exercise—Exercise has many benefits for body and brain health. Even a moderate amount of regular exercise is beneficial for banishing brain fog and clearing your mind.

  • Eat a varied diet—Eating a nutritious diet and taking supplements is super important for your overall health, and a varied diet, rich in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants can improve symptoms of brain fog.

  • Limit alcohol—Drinking too much alcohol can cause symptoms of brain fog, usually contained in the subsequent hangover. If you want to drink the odd alcoholic beverage, do so in moderation.

  • Manage stress—Even a small amount of stress can worsen the effects of brain fog. Be sure to take time for yourself, learn to relax and unwind, and do things you enjoy to reduce stress.

There’s a number of ways to treat the causes of brain fog, but practicing braincare should be the first port of call. Our Smart Supplement helps your brain stay on the front foot which will help you banish brain fog for good.

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