Can Anxiety Cause Brain Fog? | Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

By

Katie Rapkoch, CHPC

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Published on

June 05, 2024

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Updated on

June 05, 2024

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Robert Stevens

Anxiety

Both anxiety and brain fog are our body's normal response to stressful situations. However, if you regularly experience excessive levels of anxiety and brain fog, you may be struggling with a condition called anxiety-induced brain fog. 

The good news is that awareness is the first step in treating this condition. Recognizing the source of your brain fog can provide you with tools to manage it effectively.

At re-origin, we empower those struggling with chronic conditions to heal themselves through self-directed neuroplasticity techniques. Your brain is an incredibly powerful organ that possesses the ability to alter itself for the better. You can read below to learn more about anxiety and brain fog. In addition, there are steps you can take to improve these conditions and your overall mental health. 

The Connection Between Anxiety and Brain Fog

Anxiety can take up much mental “real estate” in the brain; constantly focusing on stressors, ruminating on the uncontrollable, or scanning our environment for threats can be exhausting. In response to this mental fatigue caused by so many anxious thoughts, our brain requires adequate rest.1 

When the brain lacks mental energy and is too tired to focus, it can experience brain fog. However, brain fog due to anxiety is not permanent. There are ways to minimize brain fog and return the brain to a more relaxed (normal) state of cognitive functioning.

Symptoms of Brain Fog with Anxiety

Brain fog is a common symptom of anxiety. It may manifest differently from person to person, but it often appears as:

  • Memory issues
  • Lack of mental clarity
  • Inability to focus or lack of concentration2
  • Feeling “spaced out” or confused
  • Taking more time than usual to complete tasks
  • Feeling excessively tired during work or daily activities1

Causes of Brain Fog with Anxiety

Causes of brain fog with anxiety include:

  • Anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder
  • Depression
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Issues with Physical Health
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Increased Release of Stress Hormones: When stressed, your body often enters fight or flight mode. This brain state (fight or flight mode) produces the hormones Cortisol and Norepinephrine, which take precious energy from other vital organs that keep you safe. It can weaken your immune system and make it much harder to concentrate.1

Treatment Options for Brain Fog with Anxiety

Neuroplasticity Exercises

Neuroplasticity is defined as the brain's ability to alter its state by creating new neural pathways and synapses over time.3 By using self-directed neuroplasticity (also known as brain retraining), which we teach in the re-origin program, you can help your brain break old pathways of negative thinking and behavior related to anxiety and brain fog. 

Speak to a Therapist

Working with a therapist can help you understand your condition better and create a new relationship with brain fog and anxiety. A third-party perspective can be a great way to gain a new outlook on anxiety-related brain fog and feel more hopeful about your mental health.

Prioritize Exercise 

Exercise is proven to produce hormones like endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. These feel-good hormones decrease blood pressure, clear your mind, and improve your mood. 

The best part! You don’t need to participate in an hour of intense exercise each day to feel the effects. Going for a short walk in the morning, at lunch, or in the evening can be great options to break up anxiety or brain fog in the short and long term.

Deep Breathing and Meditation

If you feel overwhelmed or experience brain fog, participating in an activity that requires your attention to be focused on a single point for a few moments can help. 

Set your timer for 90 seconds and pay attention to how the air you are breathing feels as it flows in and out of your nose and mouth. If you find your attention starting to drift, be kind to yourself and return to your breathing. To feel the positive effects, try this once or twice a day, especially in moments of brain fog.

Adjusting Your Sleep Habits and Diet

Lack of quality sleep can increase the stress hormone cortisol. By prioritizing proper sleep hygiene and creating an easy-to-follow evening routine, you set yourself up for more restful sleep. If you struggle with this, review our recent article, “7 Tips to Get to Sleep”.

Focusing on a diet of healthful, whole foods can contribute to reducing anxiety and clearing your mind. For further information on how diet can impact anxiety and brain fog, you may want to see a registered dietician.

Talk to Your Doctor About Medications

There are medications to reduce anxiety that can help with brain fog. You can discuss anxiety medication prescription options with your general healthcare provider or psychiatrist.

Try re-origin’s Brain Retraining Program to Reduce Brain Fog

At re-origin, we have seen the power of brain retraining in reducing brain fog. Approximately 95% of the participants in our program so far have reported numerous positive changes and improvements in their overall well-being, including a 26% reduction in anxiety and a 32% reduction in brain fog.

If you struggle to stay focused throughout the day, consider using the power of self-directed neuroplasticity to change the way your brain responds to stress and anxiety. For more information, visit our website and join us for a free information call.

References

  1. Villines, Z. (2023, February 10). What to know about anxiety and brain fog. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/anxiety-and-brain-fog#anxiety-and-brain-fog
  2. Higuera, V. (2023, January 2). 6 possible causes of brain fog. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/brain-fog#what-is-brain-fog
  3. Puderbaugh, M. (2023, May 1). Neuroplasticity. StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557811/#:~:text=It%20is%20defined%20as%20the,traumatic%20brain%20injury%20(TBI).

By

Katie Rapkoch, CHPC

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