Understanding Chronic Brain Fog: Symptoms and Impact on Daily Life
Chronic “brain fog” is something of an umbrella term which describes a range of symptoms: These include poor information recall, feelings of confusion, the inability to focus, a reduced ability to concentrate, difficulty in remembering even the simplest things, feeling fuzzy headed and unable to think clearly, a reduced ability to find words or complete sentences, heightened feelings of anxiousness, and a very low tolerance of stress and a general sense of being overwhelmed even by the smallest tasks.
Unraveling the Mystery of Brain Fog: Insights and Findings So Far
The medical profession is still researching the exact causes of brain fog but so far they have been able to identify that it is often associated with elevated inflammation in the body and overactive immune responses associated with virus infections, autoimmune diseases and the presence of increased autoantibodies. As Psychology Today commented recently: “Brain fog is a very complex phenomenon and the exact etiology remains unknown”. However, the condition is currently undergoing intensive additional examination and work after it has been found to be a common residual symptom of Covid.
In recent days, research has been published which estimates that as many as 6 in 10 people with Long Covid may experience some form of “brain fog”. It has also previously been identified with people with Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Depression. In addition, up to 50% of people with Systemic Lupus or SLE may experience some form of brain fog. So much so that when I first came across it, it was identified as “Lupus Fog”.
Understanding the Frustrating Symptoms and Recurrent Flares
Lupus Fog can be temporary but recurrent and much worse during so called lupus ‘flares’ – ‘flares’ describing bouts of heightened disease activity. Foggy periods can be incredibly frustrating for lupus patients and can happen regardless of high IQs, professional ability or academic prowess. Lupus patients can struggle to articulate their thoughts and appointments are forgotten, even if it is the only one in the diary for that day or even that week. From my own experience I have days when I cannot find the correct words and this despite having a Masters Degree in English Literature and being an author. On these days my loved ones very kindly help me finish my sentences.
Tips and techniques for managing and treating lupus fog with tailored cognitive behavioural therapy and establishing new beneficial practices.
The good thing about lupus fog is that it does not get progressively worse like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia but rather it is synonymous with flares. Furthermore, it can be very successfully helped and treated with psychological interventions, most specifically forms of tailored cognitive behavioural therapy. As widely reported on the media this morning and corroborated by the resident General Practitioner Doctor on Sky News these approaches are being very successfully used to radically help Long Covid patients experiencing brain fog. As a fully accredited counsellor and psychotherapist and a lupus specialist, with the additional benefit of having my own first-hand experience of what helps the condition, I can treat this very distressing and scary phenomenon. My successful tips, tools, techniques and methods include:
- For starters: Communicating the nature of the condition, that it can be positively treated and that there is help and hope.
- Coaching on self-forgiveness.
- Quickly establishing new practices to avoid over extension and burnout.
- Establishing new practices learning how to pace yourself, set limits and say no.
- Establishing new practices to ring-fence new forms of de-stressing your system either in the moment with breath-work for example or more widely with new easy forms of relaxation and emotional nourishment.
- Establishing new beneficial rituals and processes such as mindfulness which will stop you from feeling distressed and unhappy and will give you new techniques to regain your equilibrium and enable you to feel content again.
- Advising on how to identify stronger periods and how these can be taken advantage of.
- How to reduce distractions, negative thoughts and how to increase focus when required.
- Setting up new systems to help your recall. These include, for example, technological tools which will improve your overall sense of support and much reduce your negative feelings of uselessness and lack of control.
- Advising on what cognitive exercises and games can help significantly, prove enjoyable and how to do them.
- Setting up new systems and methodologies to put you back in control, identify new priorities and to rebuild your sense of purpose, through for example a very particular use of lists.
- Advising on how to identify if certain foods are worsening your brain fog, including likely candidates.
Additional Support for Lupus Fog: Referrals and Pharmacological Intervention
I can also advise and suggest referrals for those situations where the distress is so intense as to perhaps require further pharmacological intervention. For example: Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) seem to be more effective than selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
However, be assured that tried and tested help without side effects is available and there is no need for you to struggle alone. Let me help.
Schedule a free consultation for brain fog counselling
For further information and if you wish to organise a free 20 minute consultation with me about your brain fog either by telephone or virtually then either respond to this post or click on www.karendrennanmcewan.com.