When Should I Seek Help If I Think I Have Depression
The earlier you seek help, the easier depression will be to treat. If you feel youre already deep into depression or brain fog, this doesnt mean youve waited too long, it may be that the signs simply werent always obvious and there are still ways to treat it.
In any case, once youve considered that youve felt depressed for more than a couple of weeks, visit your GP or a specialist to try and find the root of the cause, along with which treatment is most suitable for you.
Dr Liam Parsonage is a highly skilled psychiatrist whose expertise involves, but is not limited to, depression, sleep disorders and anxiety. If you feel youre in need of expert advice concerning your mental health, dont hesitate to book a consultation with Dr Parsonage via his profile.
Find Your Personal Solution
Brain fog has many different causes and every person is different. You need to take action to find your own personal solution. This may be challenging and take time but it will be worthwhile.
I believe that there is a solution for everyone and that you will be grateful for the effort once you can think clearly again and perform to the best of your ability.
Prescription & Otc Medications
Every medication carries some risks.Brain fog is one of the most commonly reported side effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications.Statin cholesterol-lowering drugs and prescription sleeping pills are notorious for causing memory loss.An entire group of drugs known as the anticholinergics work by blocking the action of acetylcholine, the brain chemical of memory and learning. Typical side effects of anticholinergic drugs include brain fog, forgetfulness, and inability to concentrate.Itâs not only prescription medications you have to watch out for.Many popular over-the-counter drugs also work by blocking acetylcholine including Benadryl , Pepcid AC , and Tylenol PM .
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What Is Brain Fog And How Does It Relate To Mental Illness
Experiencing brain fog can make you feel like youre lost in a maze. You might feel confused, alone, frustrated, disoriented, bewildered, unclear, and adrift. Brain fog can also affect your emotional well-being. Being unable to think clearly may make you feel powerless, irritable, and downcast. Constantly feeling this way can put a damper on your mental health. Having a mental illness can trigger brain fog, as can other conditions. Understanding brain fog, its causes, and how it relates to mental illness can help you better understand the relationship between brain health, mental capacity, and emotional well-being.
Learning More About Brain Fog
Brain fog can be frustrating to deal with, especially if you’re also managing other uncomfortable symptoms. It can also be a sign of other serious issues, so it’s critical to get to the root of the problem. Pay close attention to when and how often you are affected by brain fog, as well as any other symptoms that may be connected to the condition. A medical evaluation with your primary care provider is a good place to start for workup of any difficulties with level of alertness, attention, or memory.
If you suspect your brain fog is related to depression, it’s important to seek the depression treatment that works for you. Antidepressants and talk therapy are two common options, but if those treatments aren’t workingor if antidepressants are causing brain fogyou may want to considertranscranial magnetic stimulation . TMS uses gentle, targeted magnetic pulses to treat depression, and it can be helpful for depression symptoms when other treatments have not been fully effective.
It can be easy to become discouraged by brain fog, but it’s important to keep working with your doctor to understand the condition and identify the solution that works for you.
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How Do I Know If I Have Depression And/or Brain Fog
The typical signs of depression are:
- A negative mood
- An absence of interest in life and the things that were once enjoyable
- Not looking after yourself your hygiene, health, and diet
- Feeling worthless and guilty
Signs arent limited to mood, however, as there are physical signs too
- A lack of energy
- Inability to sleep well or rest well
- Sleeping too much
If you feel like youre not fully in your own body, or if you feel there is something separating you from a clear state of mind, you could have brain fog on top of depression.
What Antidepressants Can Do To A Brain That Is Not Depressed
There’s a word of warning after research on monkeys finds that an SSRI antidepressant may alter brain architecture if taken by those who aren’t really depressed.
There is new reason to be cautious about using popular antidepressants in people who are not really depressed.
For the first time, research has shown that a widely used antidepressant may cause subtle changes in brain structure and function when taken by those who are not depressed. The drug is sertraline. It is most commonly known as Zoloft and is present in 16 other generic forms in Australia.
There has been long debate about the effect such drugs can have on the architecture of the brain. While the changes it induces in the depressed brain are regarded as advantageous, researchers wanted to know what happens in the brains of those who are not depressed. They wanted to know because these drugs are commonly used for other conditions such as anxiety, bulimia, hot flushes, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, stroke recovery and sexual dysfunction
Their study revealed the drugs can have unexpected and unwanted effects.
The drug used in this trial is a SSRI, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, and experts say other drugs in this class work on the same mechanism and chemistry and would likely have the same effect.
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Whats The Difference Between Brain Fog And Covid
Since the start of the pandemic, you might have heard about COVID-19 brain fog. Brain fog and COVID-19 brain fog affect a persons mental clarity the same way, but the causes are different, says Dr. Hafeez. Traditional brain fog is likely the result of other medical conditions whereas COVID-19 brain fog is direct mental fuzziness due to lingering effects of coronavirus on the brain.
Dr. Magavi adds that the term is also used to describe people who have experienced brain fog as a general result of the pandemic and quarantine, but it may resolve when the world resumes normalcy. The biggest way to differentiate the cause of your brain fog is taking note of when it started. If it seems like it is due to COVID-19, Dr. Parmar says it will likely be accompanied by other key symptoms associated with the virus like loss of taste and smell, headaches, fevers, and trouble breathing.
Crps Causes Memory Loss Forgetfulness And Brain Fog
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, CRPS, is the most painful disease known to Humankind. It is a disease of the Sympathetic, Central, Enteric and Autonomic Nervous Systems, and any injury can trigger it at any time. CRPS has many symptoms, including disproportionate, burning pain, cold or hot skin, increased sensitivity to the skin, and swelling to the affected limb. Another symptom that is often not talked about, is memory loss, forgetfulness, and brain fog.
For a list of symptoms,
Brain fog is a general term that many people who suffer from CRPS use to describe the general feeling of dysfunctions in focus, learning, and memory that can create brief episodes of confusion, disorientation, and frustration.
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For Now Reassurance Is The Best Medicine
All memory impairment isnt the same, says Dr. Hashmi. Weve seen many patients with brain fog who are concerned because a memory pill theyve been taking isnt working. Theyre reassured when they learn that dementia medications wont work on brain fog if the underlying cause is not dementia.
Patients often think nothing can be done to treat brain fog and are fearful that theyll never get better, he notes.
We will learn more as we study brain fog over time, says Dr. Factora. For now, one of the most important things we do for patients that come to us from the reCOVer clinic is reassure them that their brain fog likely will improve.
What Causes Depression
The reasons why depression and brain fog occur are multifaceted. Current research suggests that there are a combination of nurture and nature factors at play, which could include early childhood trauma or a family history of depression.3 Dr Parsonage points out that typically, the core symptoms of depression are low mood, a lack of energy, and a loss of interest and enjoyment of life, and views brain fog as a secondary symptom that is worsened or caused by these initial symptoms.
A person suffering with depression will often feel very tired or exhausted after even minimal effort, he says. Physical symptoms of depression can include disturbed sleep, loss of appetite, and poor concentration. Depression will commonly have an impact on someones ability to carry out everyday tasks in the usual way.
Dr Elena Touroni from the Chelsea Psychology Clinic explains that there are different schools of thought within psychiatry: some that lean more towards biological factors, like a lack of serotonin being the cause of depression and brain fog, while others lean more towards it being to do with trauma.
How I was feeling was difficult to describe to anyone it was like being physically trapped by my body and mind, getting out of bed or going to make breakfast became these colossal tasks
These feelings being reinforced throughout someones early years, school years, and teenage years increases the likelihood of depression, explains Dr Touroni.
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How To Beat Brain Fog
What is brain fog? While its not a medical term, brain fog describes a feeling that you dont have full mental claritymaybe youre having trouble remembering something or difficulty focusing on a thought or idea. This can happen to anyone and can be caused by lack of sleep, increased stress, certain foods in your diet or, in some cases, a medication or medical condition.
Cognitive impairment, also known as cog-fog or brain fog by patients, is estimated to affect more than half of multiple sclerosis patients during the course of their illness. This can include difficulty multitasking, paying attention, understanding conversations and recalling memories. Early and aggressive treatment for MS is key in trying to slow down or prevent this problem from significantly impacting patients lives, says David Duncan, M.D., director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.
But in addition to those living with MS, brain fog can happen to anyone and can be caused by lack of sleep, increased stress, certain foods in your diet or, in some cases, a medication or medical condition.
Regardless of the source of brain fog, you can help combat it, and one of the most common causes of brain fog is lack of sleep or poor sleep hygiene:
- Aim to get 79 hours of sleep each night
- Keep a regular sleep routine
- Go to bed at the same time every night
- Avoid screens before you go to bed
- Challenge Yourself
Common Causes For Brain Fog
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Exposure To Toxic Mold
For Lew, the 67-year-old pilot who had to give up flying due to fuzzy thinking, lab testing and brain SPECT imaging showed that his brain fog stemmed from exposure to toxic mold after his home had some water damage. If Lew had simply continued taking the medications hed been prescribed for dementia, he wouldnt have gotten any better, and he never would have discovered that toxic mold was the root cause of his cognitive dysfunction issues. Through a cleansing program that included nutrition, supplements, meditation, and exercise, Lews memory and thinking began to improve. After three months, he said, Im fully functional again.
Mental Fog Stress And Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Do you ever feel like you’re in a mental fog, you can’t think straight, or as though you have to labor to access even the simplest thoughts? I feel this way often, and it used to make me panic, like I was losing my mental faculties. Then I realized that “mental fog,” aka “brain fog,” or confusion can actually result from posttraumatic stress disorder . Triggers, stress, and anxiety can heighten feelings of mental fog–leaving those of us with PTSD feeling even more vulnerable and confused during the very moments when we most need to feel safe and in control.
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Treatments For Brain Fog Symptoms
Theres more awareness of the importance of treating CD symptoms found in depression than ever before. There are currently a few options available for treating this symptom, but more may be developed as researchers learn more about CD and depression.
A recent study showed that modafinil may benefit CD symptoms in depression. It concluded that this medication can improve episodic memory and working memory in those with remitted depression.
Another emerging treatment for CD symptoms in depression is cognitive remediation therapy, which aims to improve memory and attention. More research is needed to determine the effects of this treatment.
You may want to try home-based treatments to improve brain fog. One significant treatment for CD symptoms is exercise. Exercise can improve your spatial memory.
Other home practices that may improve CD include:
- getting enough sleep
- being realistic in planning your day
- trying to focus on one task at a time
- managing stress
- trying relaxation techniques such as meditation
- taking regular breaks
Brain Fog And Mental Illness
How you feel and think are intricately connected to the health of your brain. As such, mental illness can increase your risk of brain fog. Similarly, living with cloudy thoughts and an inability to focus and concentrate can also increase your risk of depression, anxiety, mood disorders, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and other mental health conditions. Scientists continue to study the links between brain fog and mental illness, but they have discovered that:
Mental Illness Can Interfere With Brain Functionality
By definition, mental illness is any condition that affects your mood, thinking, and behavior. One of the main symptoms of brain fog is an inability to think clearly. As mental health conditions develop, brain function changes. These changes prevent the brain from working as well as it should, which often leads to brain fog. In fact, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and schizophrenia can affect the brain in ways that lead to brain fog.
Mental Illness and Brain Fog Can Have Similar Causes
Mental illness and brain fog can be triggered by some of the same causes: lack of sleep, poor diet, unregulated stress, and hormonal and biochemical imbalances. Some scientists believe these similar causes may demonstrate a link between brain fog and mental illness.
Mental Illness and Brain Fog Are Associated with Brain Inflammation
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Depression Makes You Tired
Depression is one of the most common mental health struggles in the US. Some experiences that could stem from depression are hopelessness, excessive feelings of guilt, insomnia, and, of course: brain fog and fatigue.
Cognitive Dysfunction: aka Brain Fog
In the context of depression, brain fog is formally referred to as cognitive dysfunction. Over 85% of people with depression experience this symptom.
As anyone whos experienced brain fog or depression knows, symptoms of cognitive dysfunction can include:
- problems with planning and coordination
- difficulty remembering things
- slow reactions to your environment
- trouble paying attention
Depression, brain fog, and fatigue, or chronic tiredness, go hand in hand. Its a vicious cycle: when you have depression, brain fog makes you spend extra energy to get through the day, which in turn makes you feel even more tired. Then you feel ineffective, which worsens your depression even more and interferes with sleep. Its a revolving door that breeds fogginess.
Brain Fog: A Symptom Of Depression
Brain fog can be defined as “a state of mental confusion, detachment, and forgetfulness,” according to Dictionary.com. While not a technical term, “brain fog” is a term with which many people with depression identify. Indeed, forgetfulness is a common cognitive deficit found in depression and confusion and detachment can be felt as a part of depression as well.
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Brain Fog Vs Dementia
We all forget things. Even in our twenties we might lose our keys or forget the name of someone we just met. And as we age, these moments of forgetfulness happen more often.
For women in their late forties and early fifties, the onset of menopause can bring even more brain fog and memory lapses for many women.
But the big question is: when should you worry that something is wrong? Is it just menopause, or might it be early warning signs of Alzheimers disease or dementia?
Its important to remember that there are lots of causes for brain fog, says Lynne Shinto, N.D., M.P.H., a naturopath with expertise in neurology and womens health at the OHSU Center for Womens Health.
Most of them are far less scary than Alzheimers disease. Here are a few of the most common causes:
- Hormone changes during the transition to menopause
- Other hormone changes
- Lack of sleep
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
Many of these causes come in pairs, or even trios. Stress can lead to lack of sleep or depression. The transition to menopause can lead to hot flashes that impact sleep, or to depression. Depression can lead to stress.
Poor thinking ability and memory problems are a very common symptom of depression.
For many people, treating their depression clears up symptoms of brain fog and cloudy thinking. For this reason, everyone with these symptoms, even people in their seventies and beyond, should be screened for depression.
Brain fog and dementia are different
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