Anyone can experience brain fog
“It’s funny you’re calling me for this interview late on a Monday night, after a long day at work, because I’m feeling some brain fog and mental exhaustion myself at the moment,” says Dr Scott Kaiser.
As a doctor, he helps his patients deal with brain fog all day long – it’s one of the most common cognitive symptoms his patients report – but he proves that the mental fuzziness can strike anyone, even the experts.
In fact, this “clouding of consciousness” is a state that everyone has likely experienced at some point, says neuropsychologist, Sanam Hafeez.
When brain fog is not normal
Some people experience this condition on a persistent basis, and it may affect their ability to live their daily lives or cause serious disability.
This type of persistent, damaging brain fog is a hallmark of Covid-19 long haulers, people who deal with effects from the virus for weeks or months after they recover from the acute infection.
But while it’s frustrating that more people are being affected by it, it has brought the brain fog conversation into the mainstream. It’s gaining broader acceptance and understanding, says Dr Kaiser.
“It’s important to recognise when it’s become a problem so you can get help,” he says. “Brain fog isn’t something you just ‘have to live with’ or write off as ‘I’m just getting old.”
Brain fog isn’t a clinical term
“Brain fog” is a very common description people use to describe that feeling of mental exhaustion or fuzziness where it’s hard to think clearly.
However, it’s not a clinical term, so you won’t see it on a medical chart and you can’t be diagnosed with it. This may lead some health practitioners to dismiss it as unimportant.
But just because it’s hard to define and can differ from person to person doesn’t mean it’s not valid. “Brain fog is a very real and misunderstood condition,” says Dr Kaiser.
And it may point to other underlying health issues.
“The reason it is challenging is that it is not so much a sign or diagnosis as it is a symptom. Or even more confusing, an interpretation of a symptom,” says neuroscience chief, Dr Brandon Pope.