What is brain fog?
Brain fog is a collective term used to describe a number of symptoms which affect cognition. The symptoms include the inability to concentrate, poor attention span and feeling fuzzy.
Are you losing your train of thought? Have difficulty concentrating? Keep forgetting things? Can’t remember where you parked the car? Find yourself frozen mid-sentence? Can’t remember the name of the person you are talking to? Well, you’re probably suffering from brain fog.
Brain fog is a real thing for women and is more prevalent during midlife.
You may be able to brush it off initially, and your family and friends might make silly jokes about it, but when you realise it’s happening every day it can become stressful, especially in the workplace. You may feel that you just can’t get to the thought that you need during a conversation, to complete a task, or when composing an email.
Brain fog can be compared to coming into work sick (when you really shouldn’t) and trying to do your job. You’re not getting anywhere, you’re mentally and physically exhausted and the thoughts just won’t come. The feeling of anxiety can hit and the frustration can be overwhelming.
Should I be worried about brain fog?
Brain fog is very common during perimenopause and menopause with over 60% of women experiencing symptoms. Some women worry that they may have dementia which can be particularly worrying if there is a family member who has been diagnosed. Everyday forgetfulness shouldn’t be too concerning, such as forgetting where you put your car keys, but if you are experiencing cognitive decline (e.g. not knowing what to do with the car keys), then this can be more concerning. If you are concerned about dementia then you should seek advice from your General Practitioner.
How does brain fog happen?
The drops in levels of the hormone oestrogen during the menopause transition can cause the symptoms of brain fog. Oestrogen directly affects the brain, as it stimulates brain function, supports the growth of new cells and keeps the neurons firing. Fluctuating hormones alter the thermoregulator and nerve cells in the brain. These changes can cause hot flushes and sweat. Top it up with lack of sleep and anxiety, and the resulting brain fog can sometimes be quite severe.
Despite all this, it is reassuring to know that studies have shown that women have better memories than men and outperform men in memory tests - even in midlife and older age!
If you are having symptoms of brain fog there are things you can do to help, see our next article on Managing Brain Fog.
Check out our other articles to gain a fuller understanding of what the Menopause means for many women.
Lifestyle Factors to Help Improve Menopause Symptoms
Managing Anxiety During Menopause
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