Stop Brain Fog: Causes, Symptoms and Solutions

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Brain fog includes symptoms of confusion, forgetfulness, and lack of focus and mental clarity. It is avoidable and treatable. Learn what to do about it.

confused woman

What is brain fog?

It’s not a medically recognized term. It’s a commonly used phrase that sums up feelings of confusion, forgetfulness, and lack of focus and mental clarity.

Basically you feel like you just can’t think, which can be very frustrating and even downright frightening.

Everyone feels a little fuzzy-headed once in a while, but if you suffer from a foggy brain frequently, you certainly would like to get your mental clarity back.

So, let’s take a look at the possible causes there are a lot of them!

Then we’ll go into detail on the three main causes of brain fog and give you concrete steps to get your brain back on track fast.

An Abundance of Brain Fog Causes

Since brain fog is a catch-all symptom, there are many, many things that can cause it.

Here’s a quick rundown of possibilities: 

  • You can temporarily suffer with a foggy head from lack of sleep, low blood sugar, seasonal allergies, food allergies, dehydration, or electrolyte imbalance following heavy exercise. 
  • Chemotherapy has a well-known side effect referred to as “chemo fog” or “chemo brain.”
  • Substance abuse of any kind can lead to feeling mentally frazzled.
  • Sometimes brain fog symptoms are due to a more serious condition such as mercury poisoning, hormonal imbalance, depression, fibromyalgia, thyroid conditions (both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism) or Lyme disease.
  • Losing mental clarity is often considered a “normal” side effect of aging, but that doesn’t mean it is an inevitable consequence of growing older. 

Brain Fog Cause #1 — When Food Is the Problem

One major cause of brain fog could be the food you eat.

Dietary advice has gotten ridiculously complicated. But we’re going to make this brain fog treatment real, real simple …

EAT REAL FOOD.

Those 3 words will take you a long way towards eating the best diet for your brain (and overall health).

If it comes in a  box or package it’s not “real” — it’s processed. Even if it’s from the “health food” store.

That includes products made from flour (even if it’s whole wheat) or that contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup.

Your brain needs all three macronutrient groups:  proteins for neurotransmitter production, complex carbohydrates for steady brain glucose levels, and healthy fats. 

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You might not realize that your brain is largely made up of fat — about 60% by volume. That’s why low-fat diets have been such a disaster for our brains. 

Skipping meals can leave you with a fuzzy brain. So can eating too large a meal. If you’ve ever felt like you need a nap after a big meal you know what I mean.

wheat corn and soyYou may be eating foods you’re allergic to. The most common allergens that can contribute to your lack of focus include soy, dairy, and any food that contains gluten, especially wheat.

According to Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, the average American shockingly gets 67% of their calories from these 3 foods!

If you suspect you are allergic to any foods, keep a log of what you eat and how you feel afterward.

You might be surprised to see clear patterns develop rather quickly. Cut out any questionable food for at least a week and notice if you start thinking more clearly.

Eating real food will keep you away from food additives that mess with your brain like MSG and artificial sweeteners

Both artificial sweeteners and MSG are known neurotoxins that can cause brain fog and other brain-related symptom including headaches, mood swings, dizziness, anxiety, and depression. (12)

Check out our discussion of brain foods and how they give your brain the nutrition it needs to function well.

Cause #2 — When Lack of Sleep Is the Problem

63 million Americans complain of sleeping difficulties. If you have brain fog, it’s likely you’re one of them.

Your brain needs sleep. Sleep is critical to the way your brain works in both the short and the long-term.

Lack of quality sleep will impair your memory, creativity, judgment, and attention.

While you sleep, cerebral fluid rushes in, “power washing” your brain, clearing it of debris. (3)

You consolidate memories while you sleep. Lack of sleep affects your ability to remember what you learned the previous day. (4)

Every day you lose brain cells, but every night you have the opportunity to create new brain cells … provided you are getting enough high-quality uninterrupted sleep. (5)

If you have ongoing problems with sleep, just overcoming insomnia is a potential brain fog cure.

Cause #3 — When Stress Is the Problem

Stress has become a weird badge of honor in our society. Being stressed is wrongly equated with being productive, popular and successful.

stressed womanBut in fact, stress puts you at greater risk for every major disease you hope you never get … including dreaded brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Prolonged stress leads to anxiety, depression, poor decision making, insomnia, and memory loss.

Stress can literally cause your brain to shrink and that’s as harmful as it sounds.

Getting the sleep you need and eating a brain-healthy diet will help diminish stress. Two more things you can do are exercise and meditate.

Exercise

Physical exercise increases endorphins and delivers more glucose and oxygen to the brain.

Recent research shows that physical exercise may be the single most important thing you can do for your brain. (6)

You don’t need to exercise strenuously to give your brain small energy boosts throughout the day.

Walking is one of the best brain exercises to clear your mind. (7)

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Too much sitting is bad for your brain and your overall health. 

But Dr. Joan Vernikos, a former NASA physician and author of Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, discovered the simplest exercise ever.

Apparently, the act of standing up is more effective than walking to counteract the ill effects of sitting.

The laughably easy way to counteract sitting is simply standing up frequently on and off throughout the day.

Also, look at our discussion of brain exercises. Your brain needs new kinds of challenging stimulation regularly to work as it should.

Meditation

Over 20 million Americans meditate regularly. 

woman wearing headphonesThe US Marines use meditation to help troops deal with stressful situations they face on the job. “It’s like doing pushups for the brain,” one general says.

Corporate executives at General Mills, Target, Google, Apple, Nike, HBO, Procter & Gamble, and Aetna Insurance use it to maximize their brain power.

Meditation can make you happier, smarter, and more resilient regarding life’s ups and downs.

Regular meditators experience improved focus and concentration, greater creativity, stress reduction, and better sleep.

Research shows it can actually decrease your biological age by 12 years! (8)

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If the drug companies could bottle the benefits of meditation they’d be ecstatic. It would be their new billion dollar pill.

However, meditation the traditional way can take years to yield its full health benefits.

With the application of brainwave entrainment technology to meditation, many people find that they achieve all these desired results much more quickly and easily.

What About Nutritional Supplements?

Maybe you are already doing what you can — eating and sleeping better, exercising, and meditating — but your thinking is still fuzzy.

Then you might want to take a look at what supplements could do to help.

You may be shocked to learn that nutritional deficiencies are not a thing of the past! 

Here are the top supplements to consider:

The Most Common Vitamin Deficiency — B12

If your memory is poor or you’re in a constant state of brain fog, you may have a vitamin B12 deficiency.

This is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in the US with an estimated 40% of adults being deficient. (9)

Buy Vitamin B12 Supplements on Amazon.com

Vitamin B12 deficiency is a serious matter and should not be taken lightly since it can lead to a wide spectrum of mental disorders. (10)

Two particularly high risk groups are seniors, who often have poor absorption, and vegetarians, since B12 is found only in animal products. (1112, 13)

The best absorbed forms of vitamin B12 are methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin.

Vitamin D — the Sunshine Vitamin

couple at the beachVitamin D can lift your mood, banish brain fog and depression, improve memory, and increase problem-solving ability. (14)

Anywhere from 40% to 90% of US adults are vitamin D deficient and over 1 billion people are deficient worldwide. (15)

Sun exposure is the best source, but few people who live in North America and much of Europe can realistically get the sun they need year round.

Vitamin D is rarely found in food, so most people need to supplement.

Take a Multivitamin

The Harvard School of Public Health recommends that all adults take a multivitamin supplement as insurance to fill any nutritional gaps. (16

And so do we.

Studies have shown that taking a multivitamin alone can improve your memory and overall brain function. (17)

Omega-3 EFA

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are found in high concentrations in the brain.

They are crucial to memory and overall brain health and function, yet are widely lacking in our diet. (18)

The best dietary sources are wild-caught salmon and grass-fed meat.

Buy Omega-3 Supplements on Amazon.com

If these aren’t a regular part of your diet, consider taking an omega-3 supplement. 

Particularly when brain fog is a problem, choose one with a high concentration of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

Examine.com Supplement Reference Guide | Designed by health professionals for consumers, this guide reveals which supplements are scientifically proven to maximize results, and which are hype. Examine.com is the leader in unbiased supplement research.

This is a major component of brain cells that is most beneficial for your brain.

Brain Boosting Supplements

If you’ve met your brain’s basic nutritional needs with vitamins B12 and D, a good multivitamin, and an omega-3 supplement, and you still aren’t feeling mentally sharp, you may want to try a supplement designed specifically to boost your brain. 

Wellness Resources Super Brain Booster | Support better memory, focus and mood with proven nutrients like acetyl-l-tyrosine, alpha GPC, bacopa and vinpocetine

There are a large number of these on the market and they generally contain multiple ingredients.

You’ll learn more about these ingredients in our discussion of the 10 best brain supplements.

Brain Fog: The Bottom Line

Brain fog is a catch-all phrase used to describe feelings of fuzzy thinking, mental confusion, and lack of focus. 

While there’s a wide variety of causes of brain fog, every brain can benefit from adopting a brain-healthy lifestyle.

This means eating a diet of largely unprocessed foods, getting adequate sleep, reducing stress, and ensuring that all of your basic nutritional requirements are met with the right supplements.

Related Articles

Top 10 Brain Supplements for a Mental Edge

20 Kinds of Drugs That Cause Memory Loss

Brain Food: Eating for Brain Health

Brain Exercises That Keep Your Mind Sharp

Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Meditation

The Brain Benefits of Omega-3 Fats in Your Diet

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Brain Disorders

Physical Exercise Might Be the Best Brain Exercise

  • John W. Martin Jr

    Hi all! Well, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to respond and here’s why… I had brain surgery! Turned out my anuerysm was not the culprit of the “brain fog”.. However, it was a possible time bomb that my surgeon wanted to fix! And he did! I’m almost 3 months post craniotomy and I’ve almost fully recovered. What’s strange is I didn’t feel the brain fog until these past couple of weeks. I’m confused once again. And bummed. I’m curious if it is lack of sleep since I slept constantly for the first couple of months, but I’ve recently been having trouble sleeping and my patterns aren’t great. Everyone is saying its anxiety because I’m gonna return to work very soon, but I just don’t think so. Anyway, that’s the scoop.. I’m gonna try all these great tips until I beat this crap!!

    • http://bebrainfit.com/ Deane Alban

      Hi John, I’m delighted to hear from you but I am stunned to hear about your surgery! I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to get a brain “reboot” and have your brain fog disappear only to have it come back. As you say sleep and stress levels were different — those might be clues. I was wondering did you take any medications after the surgery that you now stopped taking? Often medications cause brain fog but perhaps in your case you were taking something that improved your cognition?

  • Girish Ashok

    Hello. So i’ve been suffering from something that seems like whats mentioned in this article. Im perpetually in some form of a trans, never aware of my surroundings and never completely able to live savoring each moment. Im a non smoker, very light and occasional beer drinker. Please let me know how to get out of this. Could hormones/ vitamins or a lack of it be the cause? Im vegetarian.

    • http://bebrainfit.com/ Deane Alban

      Have you ever had your vitamin B12 levels checked? Since you mention you are a vegetarian this is a logical place to start since over 1/2 of vegetarians are B12 deficient and 90% if all vegans are. You can learn more about B12 deficiency in this post: http://bebrainfit.com/vitamin-b12-deficiency-brain/

  • Oli

    Hi All, I’m 26 and had this for a while now! I found the worst thing for me was to snooze for about 30 minutes before getting out of bed. Once I stopped snoozing that helped greatly, I also have a high carb breakfast (pasta with Pasata sauce and mixed herbs) seems to help my focus better but I’m still not 100%! I’m currently working on my diet now!

  • leon

    Hi I’m a college student and can drinking alcohol on the weekends cause brain fog over time ?

    • Chris

      Yes. yes Yes!!! I’m a junior in college and I went through this last year as a soph. I would drink every thursday, friday, saturday, sometimes sunday (fraternity obligations) 😛 … over time, I noticed my mental clarity was becoming a DISASTER. Your best bet is stay hydrated with lots of fluids, have some multivitamins, and drink less. Honestly it may be tough, but drink less.

  • morne

    Hi I’m new i have a question that has been bothering me for a while! Simple question and it is can brain fog go away? Or do you just live with it forever? Thanks guys

    • http://bebrainfit.com/ Deane Alban

      Brain fog absolutely can go away once you find and address the underlying cause.

  • Nmag

    Hi I’m 44 and been taking antidepressants (Fluvoxamine – Luvox) for some months mostly for depression/anxiety. I have been suffering from brain fog (which I assumed was a side effect of the Luvox) , and some very sore joints including a very stiff neck, and sleep issues. Leading up to the depression/anxiety (which is disputable) I was becoming increasingly irritated and snappy at people.

    Recently I saw the Doctor who noticed I had an ear infection. He prescribed 7 days of Amoxil antibiotics. Within 2 days of starting the antibiotics my brain fog lifted and the sore joints are almost completely healed. I’ve also been sleeping better. I have been bitten by many ticks and leaches and been exposed to some very very mouldy environments. I explained all this to the doctor but he dismisses any possibility that it’s anything more than a coincidence that the antibiotics have improved my brain and joints.

    I’m adamant that I have some kind of bacterial infection affecting my brain and joints, he disagrees. The course of antibiotics will finish in a couple of days. I will come back with an update. Any thoughts?

    Thank you and good health to everybody !!

    • http://bebrainfit.com/ Deane Alban

      I think your suspicion about tick bites might hold the answer. Lyme disease is often undiagnosed and can cause your symptoms including brain fog. I’ve written about the connection between the brain and Lyme disease here: http://bebrainfit.com/lifestyle/drains/lyme-disease-a-hidden-cause-of-mental-decline-and-alzheimers/

      WebMD states that antibiotics can clear up certain dementias, so it seems logical that they could clear up brain fog if the underlying reason was an infection.

  • Patriarchy Pete

    Simple experiment. Jog outside for a half hour, three times for one week. Come back and tell us how much clearer your head is.

  • sb

    Hey im 29 male ive ben experincing bad brain fog for 6 months I cant sleep my skin has changed completely very red dry . I went to dr an had blood tests takin an all they found was low tsh I had weird bruising on joints an tingling cold feet im jus curiouswhat it could be any input would be great

    • http://bebrainfit.com/ Deane Alban

      Are you taking any measures to remedy your low thyroid? Did your doctor put you on any thyroid replacement? Brain fog as well as other symptoms you mention like dry skin can be signs of low thyroid.

      • Sara

        Low tsh usually means hyperthyroidism, not hypothyroidism…

      • http://bebrainfit.com/ Deane Alban

        You’re right, Sara. I’ve adjusted my answer to SB accordingly. Thanks for pointing that out!

    • Vaughan Elphick

      I found mine was dairy, I had to cut it out for about a week to see mine clear up, give it a try, also try taking a quality Magnesium supplement.

  • amit rana

    Hi . I am hypothyroidism patient from 8 months . my body shaking & little tremor & brain fog. Little cough in neck . my doage is 25MCG. What am I doing. I am working in ac room with lenses. Actually how many time for completely cure.

    .

  • Ethan Garcia

    Hey I am new to this just like Gretal is. I just wanted to vent out on this website because I’ve currently been through a lot and i’m glad to see that others are here to help others. I feel bad for all of you to have to feel this pain in your head… It really hurts, especially since I have depression. I’ve tried so much to make my head feel better, but nothing works. What surprises me is that I am a lucky person, despite the fatherly abandonment, and girlfriend issues at my young age. I’m only 15 and I feel as if my whole life is going to match up word by word of the Romeo and Juliet play by Shakespeare, except the whole dying thing. I don’t know what to do

  • Gretal

    Hey Guys… i am new here… im getting the brain fog too have since the start of two years ago….. i am now only 17… it is eally scary…..my parents dont belive that it is actually something and its really worrying me what do i do???

    • http://bebrainfit.com/ Deane Alban

      Hi Gretal, I hope you’ve had a chance to go through this article step-by-step and see how it applies to your life. If you are otherwise healthy, you should find these lifestyle changes help. Also our free ecourse will guide you through the important information you need to learn how to take the best care of your brain. Take comfort in the fact the brain can is constantly changing so you aren’t stuck with the brain you’ve got today forever.

      • Ravi Saxena

        Hi Sorry I m new here I have a problem and that is I left smoking 1 month back. I am experiencing that something is going wrong most of the time I am in that kind of thinking I feel myself so depressed. Sometimes I have to convene me that these people are my near and dear ones.
        Please help me on this.
        My email id is ravionlife@gmail.com
        May be I forgot to came back here.
        Thanks and I am waiting for your presides reply thanks again.

      • http://bebrainfit.com/ Deane Alban

        It’s quite normal for people to experience all kinds of side effects for a short time when they quit smoking. During this period take extra good care of yourself — drink plenty of water, sleep, exercise, and meditate. There are herbs that can help with anxiety after smoking cessation. Here’s a short article with a list of them: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/herbs-to-help-stop-smoking.html

  • John W. Martin Jr

    I hate to see I’m not alone, but I’m also relieved to find I’m not going crazy! In my case this state of “foginess” came on so sudden that I immediately had my first panic attack… I’m 34! At first it was here and there, but for the past 3 weeks has been all day.. Every day. I’ve been to the ER, again because of a panic like state. After a CT scan the docs found what might be an annyerism. It’s small and I’m awaiting an MRI this Friday. What I found more disturbing than that was the fact that my Doc as well as the ER Doc believe even if there is an annyerism it has nothing to do with my symptoms! Help! I feel like I’m stoned all day.. Like I smoked my first cigarette again and the light headedness just won’t go away.(I’ve quit smoking years ago.) I’m also battling some GI issues and was convinced that a recent bout of food poisoning was the culprit (bacterial infection in my intestines), but the Docs I’ve talked to disagree. I guess I’ll wait for this MRI and hope for the best. Good luck all.. And if anything changes I’ll report back here for sure. Thanks, John.

    • http://bebrainfit.com/ Deane Alban

      I hope your MRI gives you some clarity on your situation. Please check back and let us know what’s going on.

      • John W. Martin Jr

        Thanks Deane. Will do!

    • Gregory May

      John, I had a similar experience. My brain fog came on suddenly as well followed sometime later by my first panic attack. I did the whole ER thing too. Finally a doctor prescribed Paxil and that cleared everything up for me. My brain fog disappeared and the panic attacks stopped.

      I’m not pushing Paxil because that is a whole other story, however I would have done anything to get rid of the fog and this certainly did it for me.

      • dahope

        How much Paxil did you have to take and did it lift immediately?

      • Gregory May

        I think I started at 30 mg and it took some to take effect. The clarity was awesome. My brain fog was so bad I couldn’t even remember how to drive back to my child hood home. A complete nightmare.

    • Kat

      John,

      Infection is very likely to cause brain fog– just so you know, especially that kind of bacterial infection or UTI’s etc. Usually in older people but really in anyone. Hope you found the source of your trouble and that has since gotten better?!

    • Lori

      Have you been tested for Celiac disease?

  • Kornelija Norkunaite

    Lately I am not really sure what is going on with me. When I am in school I almost always get a brain fog and I want to say almost always at the same time, after lunch. Then in the evening after studying or maybe just reading I get really overwhelmed and stressed out about school and doing well, sometimes it get so bad to the point where I can’t sleep and I feel like I am going crazy. Also if I have a test the next day and if I have been studying the night before it is most likely I won’t be able to sleep as I will be studying in my sleep. I also feel like I have lost most of my motivation. I also have these moments mostly in the evening where I feel really lightheaded, dizzy and I lack concentration, I also turn really pale. I am in my final year and I am only 18 years old girl so I really don’t know what could be wrong with me. I have gotten my blood tested and the results were fine, I workout almost everyday and I eat pretty healthy so I really don’t know what could be wrong. I know that I stress a lot about school but can stress cause so many problems

    • http://bebrainfit.com/ Deane Alban

      The fact that you almost always get brain fog after lunch is a big tip. Are you eating enough? Too much? Too many carbohydrates? Are you eating foods you might be reacting to like wheat or dairy? I’d start experimenting with different lunches to see how you feel.

      You are right about stress — it affects the brain in some surprising ways. You can read our latest article about stress here: http://bebrainfit.com/lifestyle/drains/effects-chronic-stress-brain/

    • Gretal

      I’m the same at school… someone will ask me something and its like theres a brick wall there… you can hear what they are saying but its just not registering…. your not alone which is a help for us all i guess. although i do agree it could be stress.

      • Kat

        Sounds like anxiety– that is exactly what has always happened to me. Back in the day when I was in school I didn’t know what it was– as early as 2nd grade I would suddenly hear peoples voices change– they would sound weird like I was in a tunnel. This still happens where everything just kind of feels off. It’s like a bad trip. I discovered them to be panic attacks and am now able to control them for the most part! Anxiety can cause all kinds of strange symptoms!!

  • phillip

    Hey there Michael…i have similar issues but I started brazillian jiu jitsu about 10 months ago…i find bjj and yoga awesome for depression and anxiety. ..drink atleast 3 to 4 liters if water per day this helps me feel better…and omega 3 and 6 fats for the brain…i binge drink like crazy on a weekly basis.
    .alcohol has ruined my life…lost my kids and went thru divorce 3 years ago. ..at 41yo im facing 4 months jail for driving drunk offenses…i know when I get out I’ll have my bjj and surfing…chin up mate! Ps giving up the binging lol

  • Michael

    Happened upon this when I did a google search for “brain fog” and I can relate to a lot of what I have read. It started about 5 months ago with fatigue out of the blue which was odd for me because I am a gym rat and have always had the drive to work out. Now its a struggle to make it through my workout routine and my brain fog is something fierce that rules my life. I have had blood tests and even saw a neurologist but everything has come back normal they all say it is probably stress related since I have had so many bad things happen to me this year (divorce, dad died, was homeless for a bit, money issues etc.) or the fact that I am bi polar and I came off my meds after 10 years of being on them (effexor xr) at the beginning of this year. I literally feel like I am going crazy I frequently have panic attacks that make me feel like I am going to pass out I cant stand the constant feeling of being stoned any longer. I know I am depressed but I have never felt like this before and im afraid to go back on meds as the effexor made me violently ill if I missed a dose which is why I came off it I was like a zombie for 2 months during my withdrawal period (similar to how I am now). Ive never had any allergies so I doubt thats it but stress has always been an issue and this fog isnt helping any either. I honesrly dont know what to do I hate getting up in the morning but at the same time I cant get a good night sleep as I frequently wake up during the night. I find myself short tempered, angry and crying at the drop of a hat I just honestly can’t believe its due to depression as it just hit me all of a sudden. I initially tgought I was over training at the gym but after taking 3 weeks off in August after I had a hydrocelectomy nothing had changed if not gotten worse. I am a healthy eater and recently cut way back on alcohol consumption (which is weird as it’s about the same time my symptoms started),work out regularly and I am 37 years old.

    • http://bebrainfit.com Deane Alban

      Hi Michael, You really have a lot on your plate. Plus the holidays often bring emotional issues to a head and send our stress levels through the roof. You have a lot of variables which makes finding the answers to your brain fog tough. A few things you mentioned stand out:

      You mention you’re a gym rat. Vigorous or strenuous exercise is not always the best kind for your brain, especially when you are having problems. Walking and exercises with mind-body connections like yoga or tai chi might be worth a try for the time being.

      I can’t impress upon you enough how much stress can mess with your brain and you’ve been under a TON of stress. Do you meditate? Please check out my post on meditation. You’ll learn some easy fail-proof meditations to get you started. It might seem like “too little to do much good” but it really can help.

      You say your symptoms started about the time you cut back on alcohol. Did you drink enough to be experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms?

      Do you eat a lot of wheat? Wheat consumption is associated with many mental disorders. I didn’t think I had a problem with wheat until I cut it out for a month and then added it back in. What an eye-opener!

      Does your doctor know you quit your effexor? Maybe there is an alternative medication you could try with fewer side effects. You may need something — even temporarily — to get you over this hump. Did your doctor check you for either vitamin B12 or vitamin D deficiency?

      If you aren’t sleeping it will intensify everything that’s wrong. The blue light from electronics is one of the worst things for sleep. Turning them off at least a few hours before bed time can help.

      You can find more on the topics I’ve mentioned on our site by using the search box in the upper right.

      • Michael

        Thank you very much for the reply I’m not very good at handling stress i just cant see how stress can be causing this i feel like i am going insane in a constant cloud of haze or feeling of being stoned. I have had the full panel blood tests and even seen a neurologist but everything has come back “normal”, i have tried a vitamin B supplement, fish oil and multivitamin and even tried turning the electronics off to try to help me sleep but nothing has changed. I did tell my doctor i came off the effexor and he(as well as the neuro) suggested i try a new one but after my experience with effexor(and countless others) i am hesitant. I have also cut back on the gym i was going 2 times a day for a period after i got separated from my wife i am only doing strength training 4 days a week now and jog another I also cant afford to keep having tests run as i have a $2000 deductible and a limited income as i am a single father(my 13 year old daughters mother from a previous marriage died a few years back) and i also cant afford to miss work to get said tests done. I have not tried meditation maybe i will give it a try after i heal from a repeat surgery i have to get done tomorrow. I do eat wheat a few times a day i have never had any problems in the past with it so i’m not so sure that’s the culprit and i mentioned the drinking to my doc and how my issues started about the same time i cut way back and he said it was just coincidence as i didn’t drink enough for withdrawals(no hard liquor about 6 beers a day but not every day). In any event thank you for the suggestions i will definitely take a look into the meditation and i hope you have a happy holidays.

      • http://bebrainfit.com Deane Alban

        I’m glad to hear you’ll consider meditating.This post on meditation will help. It contains my favorite ways to meditate and best meditation tips I’ve learned from my years of meditation. http://bebrainfit.com/lifestyle/mental/benefits-of-meditation/

        As for wheat or drinking alcohol or any lifestyle habit – things change. I’m a lot older than you, and I can tell you that as you age you’ll find you can’t get away with transgressions (be it sleep, diet or stress) like you used to.

        I hope all goes well with your surgery and that you and your daughter enjoy your holidays.

      • rob

        Hey, I was on Effexor for 11 years 75mg when it “pooped out” 3 months ago. Haven’t been able to work since. It’s been hell, the nausea, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, brain fog and lack of concentration. I was put on Lexapro; 2 days and stopped cause of rapid heat beat. I am supplementing with vitamins, fish oil and other stuff and not getting much better. It’s tiring. I’m waiting for my blood results thyroid, hormones etc and hope some news. Stay strong.

      • Michael

        Im having a complete blood test done Tuesday to check for limes, thyroid issues, testosterone issues etc. I wish I had never taken effexor im really not sure how much it actually helped and I have felt like sh#t since coming off it. I have all the symptoms you have minus the headaches and nausea and ive heard many others do as well. Ive tried the fish oil and other stuff as well but like you they have done nothing I feel like I am going crazy most of the time and my brain fog is something fierce.

  • Debbi Gilbert

    my son has complained of this since he was 16 and he is still suffering at 23. He has about one clear day a month and it is really effecting his life. When the symptoms first appeared he also has a bad headache those have subsided but he is still left dealing with all the other symptoms. He says he is clear for about 10min. after waking up but then the fog sets in. At times he cant even read and sometimes cant put sentences together. Otherwise he is healthy. He has agreed, finally, to see a DR. any suggestion on the type or a referral in Tampa Ft. Myers Florida area? Any thoughts on causes and treatment?

    • http://bebrainfit.com Deane Alban

      Sometimes you have to be a regular Sherlock Holmes to figure out the cause of brain fog. Surprisingly, brain fog is not that unusual in teens. But since this has gone on a long time and is so disruptive to your son’s life I think you are right to be concerned. My first thoughts are lifestyle-related since many young people have pretty poor lifestyle habits. How’s his sleep and diet? Does he spend a lot of time with electronics? Does he get outdoors exercise? Is there anything different about that 1 day a month? Is he taking any recreational drugs (you may not know.) I’m not a medical professional, but I’m a mom. If he were my son I’d take a serious inventory of his lifestyle. Then I’d make sure he was checked for vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency. I’d also eliminate some of the worst allergens from his diet and give him plenty of healthy fats especially omega-6s or DHA. I’d recommend your son sign up for our free email course. It will give him a step-by-step program for taking care of his brain. Sorry I don’t know of any drs in Florida. I used to live in Naples and went to USF in Tampa but that was a long time ago.

    • Joe

      Debbi,

      I’m in Tampa and am looking into this currently as well. Like your son, my brain fog started at a younger age and has persisted since. I’m now 35 :(
      I hope your boy is able to figure it out. I have tried every supplement under the sun, the Paleo diet, and am very active physically (play 2-3hrs of basketball per week, ride my bike frequently, and rough housing with my son)…nothing has worked dramatically. In fact the only thing I’ve found that helped to a degree is drinking a glass of sole water when I wake up. Just plain old water with a high salinity point (27%?) if I ever find anything that totally works I will scream it from a mountain top (not in FL obviously) because I am sick to my stomach that the majority of my life has been lived in a haze and I’d love to spare others

  • aaron

    I recently developed brain fog, about 6 weeks ago now. I’m 39 and suffer from the same symptoms as Rick Parker below. In addition to his symptoms, I suffer from blurry vision (I was recently tested with 20/20 vision and the eye doc was at a loss). The fog started one day out of nowhere, and has been relentless since it began.

    So far I have been tested for hypoglycemia, diabetes, heavy metals, hypothyroidism, and candida overgrowth. I’ve changed my diet (cut out dairy and wheat, as the article suggests) and work out 3 times a week (a rigorous 45 minute swim). None of these things have made an ounce of difference for me. In fact, swimming can sometimes make the fog even more prevalent for the hours after my workout.

    I am supplementing my diet with fish oil, vitamin b complex, vitamin b12, and ginkgo biloba. And yep, still fog.

    I recently learned that stress can lead to depression, and while I haven’t felt stressed, I have recently changed jobs twice in 3 months (on my own accord), which warranted high learning curves for the most recent job. I certainly didn’t feel stressed, but who knows, maybe that’s my body’s way of pushing back? In any case, 1.5 months into it, I would think it’d be gone by now. And when I read posts such as Rick’s, I get scared as hell to think that the brain fog could linger over YEARS?!?!

    At this point I’m desperate, so I’m taking St. John’s Wort, but all that does is make me feel high, and just makes matters worse it seems. This is my 3rd attempt at the wort, as I usually give up a few days into it as I don’t like feeling high, especially at my new job, where I’m already struggling (because of the fog).

    I read that someone actually experienced the same high feeling that I speak of and claimed that it goes away, and in a few weeks should kick in, so i’m hopeful. However, I’m pretty sure that this fog is not depression, and I am not a depressed person, so to speak. I’m active, excitable, and ambitious (perhaps overly).

    I hope to find some resolve very soon and look forward to sharing it. It scares the hell out of me to hear about multiple stories of fog lasting for years.

    • 2turnedup

      Have you looked into post-dramatic stress, multiple personality disorder, or some type of schizophrenia?? I was looking into it because I have a past of schizophrenia, but i haven’t had any problems from it in years. After noticing this “brain fog” I thought it may have had something to do with my past medical condition, and after looking into it I realized they all have similar symptoms. So I’m at a lost, and I see a lot of other ppl are lost as to what the cause is, so I just thought I’d throw my 2 cents out and hopefully help to find a solution to this problem because it gets frustrating at times and its even more frustrating not knowing what causes this or what would be a good solution.

    • http://bebrainfit.com Deane Alban

      A few things you’ve said stand out to me. It’s great that your exercising but vigorous exercise can make brain fog worse for various reasons (lowering of blood sugar, increasing free radicals). You might want to take shorter swims or stick to walking and see if it helps. Is it possible the chlorine from the pool is bothering your brain?

      If you suspect St. Johns wort makes your brain fog worse, wean off of it and see what happens. You could try 5-HTP instead if you feel you need help with your mood. See our article on that here: http://bebrainfit.com/lifestyle/nutrition/5-htp-benefits-side-effects/

      I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that ginkgo can cause brain fog in some people. Personally, I tried it for my tinnitus and it made it worse.

      And as you point out stress can do a number on your brain. Now on top of all of other life’s stresses, you’re understandably worried about your brain fog, too. Do you meditate? If not, check out our latest post on meditation. Even 10 minutes a day can help.

      • aaron

        Deane, thanks for your reply. The chlorine possibility is an interesting one, I had thought of that but have ruled it out since I’ve been swimming for years. I was also thinking that it might be black mold related, as the gym where I swim is probably not as well kept as it could be.

        Actually, since I made my original post, I’ve been feeling a ton better. The high feeling has since worn off and I have been feeling much more like my normal self.

        However, I had a few drinks over the weekend (4 vodka drinks in one night). The next day I felt pretty good, however, the day following I now have brain fog that feels very similar to the original onset of it; almost unbearable fog, brain feels squishy, difficulty communicating or getting my thoughts out verbally, difficulty driving a bit due to slower reaction times, terrible short term memory, difficult to multitask, zero creativity, etc.

        Now I’m actually suspecting that whatever is going on is due to something in my gut. Potentially leaky gut syndrome? As I stated in my original post, I have changed my diet quite a bit and have been supplementing it with B vitamins and a daily dose of greek yogurt, coconut oil, kimchi, flax seeds, and garlic; all things that are thought to help heal the gut.

        The fact that I have been feeling better since my original post could be coincidental and have more to do with my diet change than with SJW. It’s hard to say, but I’m suspecting that the alcohol consumption over the weekend is responsible for my severe brain fog today; maybe it shook things up in my stomach?

        I plan on abstaining from alcohol consumption well into the foreseeable future and will post updates on my status. I know that it is frustrating for folks to read posts like this without updates or resolution, so I plan doing just that.

        Unfortunately brain fog can be caused by so many things that my resolution may be entirely different than it would be for others..

      • http://bebrainfit.com Deane Alban

        It sounds like you are on the right track! I hope forgoing alcohol and fixing your gut is the answer. Please do keep us posted!

    • Rob Pino

      Sorry to hear about your hard time. I also suffer from it on a massive scale which sucks because I am in the military. I have had it for the majority of my life and only one time do I remember getting rid of it. I went vegan for about 7 months and felt like a million bucks, I remember how I could focus and remember things that I normally wouldn’t be able to. It seemed like everything was more bright and my emotions turned back to normal. I later found out that I had reactive hypoglycemia and the only way to keep my blood sugar normal was to eat lots of fruits. I also cut out all soda, no breads, no boxed foods or preservatives. I also used all natural products with very few ingredients. I still smoked though…. So you mentioned going swimming, a lot of people don’t realize that it take only about 30 seconds from something on your skin to reach your blood, you could have some type of toxicity building up in your body. I would recommend dong a couple things that might help out. Get a reverse osmosis filter for your water. USe natural products (most you can make at home) and stay away from meats, processed foods,breads, dairy and go vegan. I am not saying this will work for you but it can’t hurt. I got off my diet and feel like crap again, People with a very busy job need to have good time management skills but it is more about energy management than anything else. You need to let your body detox. By eating this way you will lose weight and feel great. I remember how fast my body would heal and it seemed that I only needed about 6 hours of sleep a night to feel great. My body was healing itself faster than normal. Another cool thing was my heart rate that was never high dropped to 45 beats per minute. I hope to have that mental clarity again some day because when you get it back you feel like you are complete again. For me, it made me realize how poisonous our “food” really is. I am now studying to get my degree in soil scince and nutrition. Best of luck to you, the best thing you can do is try to clear your body (detox) and let your body fix the issues naturally if possible. Best of luck!

  • Rick Parker

    Thank you for this article. Good grief. I haven’t tested many of these ideas but at least they’re noted clearly and I can give them a try. I’ve been dealing with brain fog for at least 10 years, it never felt natural, I’m still relatively young (33 yo) and yet my doctors tell me to simply “brush it off”. Yeah, as if! I’ve long felt like a prisoner in my own brain as a result, with seemingly nowhere to turn- fighting through fog, confusion and horrendous memory 24/7/365. For example, I just finished a 600-page book and while I enjoyed it at the time, I can hardly remember what it was even about. It’s ridiculous. It just seems like there’s a cloud hanging over everything I do. English is my first language and yet I often struggle to communicate now- it’s a real drag. I’m hopeful that some of these supplements can clear it up a little bit. Life is hard enough without feeling shorthanded every day. Thanks again for all your work on this issue.

    * By the way, I’m a vegetarian T1 diabetic on a low-fat diet. Haha I hit so many of the check points listed above and I never thought to connect the dots, like Omega-3’s/DHA, B12-deficient, B-complex, other pills I’m taking, etc. I’m gonna give it my best shot now. I hope it’s not too late.

    • http://bebrainfit.com Deane Alban

      Low-fat diets are no friend for your brain. Your brain is largely made of fat, 60% by volume. It has a higher cholesterol content than any other organ — about 25% of the body’s cholesterol is found in the brain. And vegetarians are particularly at risk for B12 deficiency.

      It’s never too late to change! Your brain is changing every day anyway. By taking the right steps you can learn to change it for the better.

    • gilbert101proof

      Reading your post was exactly describing how I feel. I truly understand and feel your frustration and pain. After a few doctor visits last year ,and tests, I tested positive for Lyme disease. I probably have had it for many years already so antibiotic treatment is pretty much too expensive and pointless. A few things have helped with brain fog, almost regularly, but its never completely by any means. Wheat grass pills or powder definitely helps me. I recently discovered a mocha with ganoderma in it, that has helped a lot and I drink it throughout the day. I take the omega oils and a multi-vitamin. Also I have tried spirulina, which helped, but the 2nd brand I used made me sicker instead of better, so the only way id take that again was with the original brand I used. Anyways, after trying so so many things, these have been the most effective thus far. Always looking for new, natural ideas!

    • Hopeful

      I’m so happy to know that I’m not alone in combating this condition. I find myself forgetting words to describe items while talking. .. only to remember the forgotten word an hour later! I’m not stupid, (have a master’s & did well in school) but these situations understandably, make me question my intelligence. Feeeling frustrated & often want to seclude myself. I will change my diet and start walking & hope for the best!! I’m not consistent so this will definitely be a challenge. In any case, I’m so glad to have found this site!

  • Amanda

    I’m 24 and have been dealing with this for years, “dealing” by which I mean suffering and stressing that my doctors didn’t have an answer for me. Shame that a random google search got me more information but I’m so relieved to know I’m not the only one and it could be a relatively easy mend.

  • Joseph Dabon

    I know the feeling but I never called it brain fog. It is just being overwhelmed with so many things to do, with so little time to do them. or arranging them in logical order. – http://elderlytalk.com/