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Significantly worse after concentrating/focusing?

Discussion in 'Cognition' started by Ivana, Mar 15, 2012.

  1. Ivana

    Ivana Senior Member

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    Hi all

    Please ignore this question if it's already been answered.. but I was just wondering if anyone knows why/experiences significant worsening of symptoms after concentrating on something? I tried to study today and got sot ired after half an hr that I had to spend the next 6 hrs in bed. I really don't want to drop uni again (studying from home) so was wondering if anyone knows how to improve this? Or even how/why it happens? I find that I can watch tv or play a board game for over half an hour, but cannot seem to study. Is it due to the concentration (therefore effort) required?

    Best wishes,

    Ivana
  2. justy

    justy Senior Member

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    Hi Ivana, this is a very common problem for those with M.E. Since i have started to heal i am able to spend more time studying/on the computer. Last year i couldnt play board games or drive or go on the computer for more than 10 minutes at a time.

    You need to learn to pace your mental activities as well as physical ones. For me it was another one of those symptoms that i couldnt just push through as it only made me worse. Dr Myhill explained to me that there is mitochondrial (cellular energy) dysfunction in PWME. The brain has a very high need for energy (ATP) and uses it up very quickly. The rest of the body can recycle it from ADP back to ATP, but our brains dont do this (or less efficeintly) its also why we have eye problems as they have a high energy need as well.
    All the best, Justy.
    L'engle likes this.
  3. Ivana

    Ivana Senior Member

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    Hi Justy

    Thanks for that. What helps with the ATP? I find that I can be on the computer looking up useless things for quite a while (with sunglasses on, ofcourse, due to the bright light) but when it comes down to concentrating, thats when the problem hits and the fatigue starts. Last year I couldnt even get out of bed so this is a good progress, but I'd still like to be able to concentrate a bit (even to drive, cant do that either) but it hurts my head too much and the fatigue and sick feeling kicks in. Even if I pace carefully with the mental activities, it seems like concentration takes 100% of my energy. Anything I could do to help this?

    I am happy to hear you're improving though

    Best wishes,

    Ivana
  4. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    I don't know most of the scientific facts, but I can share some of my personal experience.

    I am frustrated too that I can do some kinds of activities and not others. It is not only about concentration for me.

    Some that I can do need medium to high concentration, but the type of task is one I have practiced many times. I can only do it because of the practice, and it is a type I enjoy more. I am worse when there is pressure, confusion, or when I am trying to remember more.

    All things that add to stress. When I stress about the task, I can feel the stress hormones and it is not surprising to need more recovery when you released those for hours. With the high concentration tasks that I enjoy, I assume I am releasing some positive neurotransmitters and less of the stress hormones.

    Trying to read a textbook is hard for most healthy people too, and trying to memorize facts and make new connections. Some people learn better from audio and/or visual and/or tactile hands-on experience. If you are one of those, it would be harder, than if you are able to learn from the book.

    Sometimes I am worse than others. If I am more fatigued or ate certain foods, it may be hard to do those tasks above, which I can normally handle. (Writing a post like this is one example of a task I can normally do.) Sometimes I can hardly do anything. It seems to vary person to person but most people focus better with some caffeine or other stimulants. I need very low doses, or I will feel bad. Also it makes sense to have a crash after.
  5. Wayne

    Wayne Senior Member

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    The Stress of Thinking ...

    Hi Ivana,

    I have found that focus and concentration are generally more difficult than physical exertion, and more easily leads to a period of PEM. Like SickOfSickness, I find that it can be almost as debilitating to "think" about exerting myself mentally as actually doing it. What I've learned to do (when I remember) is to think about doing something before actually doing it, to see whether I have the reserves to handle it at the time. Just a little trick I use. Perhaps you might find it helpful.

    Best, Wayne
  6. L'engle

    L'engle moderate ME

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    This is my most debilitating symptom. I was very good at long periods of study and memorization before becoming ill, never found it difficult. Now I can only study (or do any work that requires mental or social effort) in limited amounts before pain, sickness and profound exhaustion set in. Freddd' protocol has helped me to at least be able to study/work a little but is it a bare fraction of the amount of time a healthy person could put in to working without having any pain symptoms or dysfunction. I'm not a person who ever had trouble focussing when healthy, or who needed alternative learning methods. I still work best with visual/textbook learning over audio/verbal, but the amount of time I can devote to this is very limited.

    Magnesium can help, I find with the pain of this type of exertion, though it only increases my functioning by a small amount. Methyl b12, following Freddd's protocol, may also allow you to increase your functioning hours. Good luck!
  7. fishersta

    fishersta

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    I have same problem, reading for more than 10-15 minutes tires me horribly. Best thing I have found for coping is to work in short, intense bursts with rest periods as needed in between.
  8. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    I agree, work in short bursts with rest between. My bursts are even shorter. Depending on how I am feeling, I will do 30 seconds to 5 minutes of reading/study, then break for 2 to 5 minutes. On the break sometimes I can accomplish another easy task, so it's not a complete break from all work, just a break from that concentrating kind. Sometimes I am feeling better and I can work for 5-20 minutes straight.
  9. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

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    I used to have that symptom too. Not just physical exercise would be bad for my ME but also anything which was making my brain have to work hard. As justy said, our brain uses energy too.

    I myself found that nothing helped me enough to be able to go back to my studies which I had to drop out of due to the ME.

    Best to pace the brain stuff just like we do for the physical stuff.

    best luck

    ps I wish I'd gone to trying to do part time studies far earlier then I did.. I kept on dropping subjects as it was too much, I just couldnt do it ... by that point it was too late and my ME was far worst then it was originally.

    Had I cut back on the subjects earlier.. maybe I would of completed my course even thou it would of taken a lot longer. The result of trying to push throu college was I ended up completely bedridden for 9mths and had to have another caring for me.

    Consider doing your course over more time.
  10. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    I agree with tania, pushing does not work for us. You pay too much for it later. And it is better to complete it slower than not at all.
  11. August59

    August59 Daughters High School Graduation

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    That is probably one of my most consistent symptoms. If it doesn't cause me to nap for few hours it will give me severe anxiety. Post Mental Malaise!
  12. soxfan

    soxfan Senior Member

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    When I go to work and have to concentrate I become very tired within a few hours. I am lucky in that my boss only schedules me for short shifts otherwise I would be unable to work at all...this is definately one of my most debilitating symptoms. It also happens if I am shopping. Luckily I can read and watch TV for short periods of time.
    Being at the computer at times is very difficult as well. I can't sit at the computer for more than 15-20 minutes at a time. I am not sure if it is the brightness of the screen or what...

    When my mind starts to get fatigued I will sit and close my eyes for a while and that seems to help. I have really never had a problem with physical exertion as I can do almost anything in moderation. It is the concentration/thinking/mental exertion that is a huge problem....

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