What is “depression fog,” and what can you do about it?

If you suffer from depression, you probably read the world “depression fog,” and instantly went, “Yep, I gotcha.” Depression fog is one of the many, many lousy symptoms of depression.

For the unaware, imagine the way a migraine scrambles your brain, or a hangover. It’s basically that: Cognitive dysfunction caused by your mood. Depression fog – or “brain fog” – alters your ability to think and function. It can alter a slew of cognitive and physical functions, including critical thinking, reaction time, memory and more.

You just feel sleepy. Like you just woke up.

As noted by the above Healthline article, depression fog can make it hard for you to pay attention to things. You can’t remember things as well as you normally can. You have trouble concentrating and always feel tired.

I’d add a component of depression fog which I don’t think is adequately covered in the reading that I did on the subject: Guilt. When you can’t function as well as you wish you were, you often berate yourself: “Why aren’t I thinking right? God, why do I suck so badly?!?!” And then you get more depressed…and then the brain fog gets worse…and the spiral continues.

How do you get past the fog? In my experience, this is difficult to do without treating the underlying depression. For me, on the instances when the fog has descended, I’ve felt better as my mood has improved. The two are unquestionably linked. However, there are some treatment options which specifically address brain fog. For example, according to the above Healthline article, a recent study found that the drug Modafinil can be effective at treating cognitive dysfunction.

Other treatments, again, are the same as ones which you use to manage depression and your physical health: Get enough sleep, eat well, get exercise, etc.

I’d add two things: Go easy or go hard.

Again, this is just me talking here, so take everything I am about to say with an entire shaker of salt. But when I’m down, I sometimes just crave my bed. That can be a really good thing, or a really terrible thing. I mean, on one hand, going easy on yourself can be deeply therapeutic, but it can also inspire a ton of guilt and inadequacy. I suppose that part depends on your mood or chemistry. And I have to say – I always get scared when it comes to going easy on myself. I’m always so worried that if I just lie down in bed I will never, ever want to get out of it.

Everyone has their own brain chemistry, wants and needs. So, to that end, I’d make two suggestions. First, if you think that you can chill in bed without hating yourself, do it. Relax. Read a good book. Watch a good movie. Rest up, and then see how your mind is functioning.

Or, if you’re like me, tell your body: “No. I will not surrender to this. I’m going hard” – and then drag your butt to the gym. And fee proud of yourself afterwards.

My two cents, but as always, I’d love to hear yours. How do you fight the brain fog? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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