Review: 'Through the Shadowlands’ describes Julie Rehmeyer's ME/CFS Odyssey
I should note at the outset that this review is based on an audio version of the galleys and the epilogue from the finished work. Julie Rehmeyer sent me the final version as a PDF, but for some reason my text to voice software (Kurzweil) had issues with it. I understand that it is...
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Brain Fog= Cognitive Problems + Anxiety + Depression?

Discussion in 'Cognition' started by arx, May 10, 2013.

  1. arx

    arx Senior Member


    I just want a view of how people feel mentally. I want to know so as to compare it to my situation. I'm talking here about mental symptoms. Could the anxiety,frustration,depression that comes along, could actually be all because of the 'fog'? I want to know how people feel the 'fog',and is everything just because of cognitive disorientation?
  2. ukxmrv

    ukxmrv Senior Member

    When I feel fog it is as if there is a barrier is between me and my brain. I go to try and think through a problem and wham, it's as if I hit a hard surface and then my thoughts disintergrate into trendils of smoke that drift away from me.

    I don't suffer from anxiety or depression even in these circumstance. Feel very frustrated though and over time I have trained myself to move onto something else. It means that I cannot care for my personal affairs like bank accounts, bills by myself as the brain fog can mean that even a simple thing becomes impossible. At times of severe brain fog I can't use a mobile phone or a computer. In particular it stops me from learning new things.

    When I was able to work it was embarrassing. Went to print something and couldn't remember what a printer was and how I could find it. Lost the ability to recognise common objects and what they did. Could not hail a cab to take me home and had to use a map, looking at it repeatedly and stop to ask others to help during the journey as couldn't remember where I lived. At work I tried to get water out of fax machine (instead of a water cooler) and a colleague found me there standing confused and trying to work out that I was supposed to be doing.

    I can see why someone might develop a reactive depression under these circumstances. We can go from high functioning people into low ones in an instant and it can last for a long time.

    My main emotions are feeling perplexed and confused when I have the fog.
    Firestormm, Lala and Tito like this.
  3. adreno

    adreno PR activist

    Both depression and anxiety can cause cognitive problems, so you might want to deal with those symptoms and see if it helps.
    Firestormm likes this.
  4. Sparrow

    Sparrow Senior Member

    Any anxiety or depression are separate from my fog. My mood is quite good these days, but my mental capabilities are definitely not.

    ...Although I do tend to get a bit crankier when I'm at my most overstrained. I just don't have the mental resources to edit what I'm saying, and being talked to is hard.
    Seewell likes this.
  5. Lotus97

    Lotus97 Senior Member

    United States
    Sometimes I experience all of those symptoms at once (today was one of those days), but usually it's just one or two of them at a time. Brain inflammation could be a cause for those symptoms, but there are a lot of other causes I'm sure.
  6. HowToEscape?

    HowToEscape? Senior Member

    If your brain is not functioning normally (usually the case with ME/CF) then ... it's not working right! Of course your moods will be affected.

    I have asked myself many times "is this brain fog, or is it "just" depression? I've come to understand this is a mostly though not totally useless question. Instead I need to ask "what can I do about it?" That isn't a big winner either, but at least it works somewhat at some times. So far, I can't find a reliable, clear answer most of the time as my old ways of gaining energy, mostly starting with physical activity, no longer work.

    I've found that mood and energy level are often tightly connected; when the brain fog lifts, the heavy eyes, feeling of slooowness, dizzy sensation, then an irritable or other unpleasant mood also lifts. At the same time I'm suddenly able to form thoughts, figure out what I had intended to do for the last several days, and begin to act on those items. Until the tank runs dry, which happens before I can get more than a small fraction of the stuff done.

    Sorry, can't write any more clearly than this. Can type, can't think. Thanks, brain fog.
  7. Mr. Cat

    Mr. Cat Senior Member

    Nothern California
    In my experience, brain fog, anxiety, and depression are not necessarily linked. However, if the brain fog is linked to physical pain in the brain and body, I believe the pain could be linked to irritability, anxiety, and depression, just as any chronic pain can be. For me, the phenomena of brain fog is that whatever is causing it is shutting down certain parts of the brain. In many cases, this may be the cognitive part, but for me, brain fog can also impair my ability to emotionally connect - both with my own emotions, and with other people.

    EDIT: I agree with rebar below that irritability, anxiety and depression can sometimes coexist with cognitive brain fog if these biochemical switches are thrown too. Just another part of the brain being messed with. In my experience, though, it was more often the gut brain, when it was experiencing difficulties, that liked to throw the emotional switches.

    I don't suffer much from severe cognitive brain fog anymore, but as I was getting better, I noticed I went through a period of experiencing a lot of "mystical brain fog," where I would spend a lot of time in semi-meditative states, not worrying about much, just content to be who, where, and how I was at the moment. It was actually pretty enjoyable. I think that during this period, the factor that causes brain fog was still affecting the brain, but this time was shutting down the "monkey mind" part that thinks and worries a lot about things. When experiencing the milder, mystical brain fog, I did not experience the extreme brain/body discomfort that I felt with more severe brain fog.
    alex3619 likes this.
  8. rebar

    rebar Senior Member

    we are diverse lot and need to always keep that in mind. Lately I have experienced all of my major symptoms at once,
    including, large increase in body pain, mind and body exhaustion, headache with feeling of pressure in my upper neck and head, along with these I have an increase in cognitive issues and at times a rather rapid onset of intense depression. this increase in severity of symptoms happens rapidly and feels like functional switches have been thrown. this is not about whether I'm depressed or not but about biochemical "switches" being flipped. depression is not causal. depression is a symptom for some us, like PEM. most days and previously I would not call myself "depressed".
    Mr. Cat likes this.
  9. svetoslav80

    svetoslav80 Senior Member

    Brain fog may exist without anxiety or depression.
    Little Bluestem, jeffrez and Enid like this.
  10. EtherSpin

    EtherSpin Senior Member

    Melbourne , Australia
    Im a person very highly strung but only internally (because my dad and other sibling were outwardly so anxious I was essentially nurtured to be the one who coped externally) my anxiety hasnt increased with CFS except at the tail end of a day when everything seems to be spinning and I have zero depression besides the odd FML moment which again is just reflection on CFS ! my brain fog however is massive. I potentially wont know in 2 minutes that I wrote this, my general short term memory is shot, i cannot be interrupted at all in a convo or i cannot remember the topic , my digit span and arithmetic dont work I have a blurry/aura/light artifact sort of halo around the edges of my vision and by 3 pm each day now my sound sensitivity drives me a bit nuts. a few things can help but mean that i will crash the next day, mostly nootropics like piracetam so I use them for unavoidable appointments and things related to keeping my disability pension coming in.
  11. arx

    arx Senior Member

    I understand. Sometimes I feel I should make my own FML website.

    Have you tried Provigil for the above issues?
  12. peggy-sue


    I used to get clinical depression when bullied (at work or by my vile-ex) - it was directly caused by the uncontrollable stress I was living under - so unfortunately, I know true depression well, from before getting ME.

    It is not remotely connected to the "fog" problems - which I experience as a massive loss to my short term memory, inability to make new memories (caused by lack of short term memory) and a considerable drop in my IQ.

    Trying to do some simple mental arithmetic will cause what I describe as being like a horse refusing a fence, it makes the run-up, then stops short, suddenly. Won't do it, no siree.
    I can't follow a story in a drama on tv, I can't read a book.
    My digit span has gone from my normal 7-8 to 3-4 (on a very good day)

    It's painful, but not a physical pain, I feel as if somebody has vacuum sealed my brain in a plastic bag then put it in a pressure cooker.

    Trying to listen to somebody talk will give me the ghastly feeling you get when somebody scrapes an aluminium pan with a metal fork, or does that thing that squeaks on a blackboard - a shuddery agony which makes me try to duck out from under it.

    I feel it's one of the very worst things - as if whatever it is "I" am is locked away inside a prison of a drivelling, incompetent, moron. I'm frightened the folk who care for me think "I" have got lost and won't care for the drivelling incompetent moron they're left with any more.
  13. heapsreal

    heapsreal iherb 10% discount code OPA989,

    australia (brisbane)
    For me brain fog is like a bad head cold, to me its an actual sensation. I have found it different to memory recall or concentration problems etc as i still have this issue with names and numbers etc but dont have brain fog sensation like i did when i first had cfs. I do find brain fog can be a dull headache.

    I remember when i first realised how bad it was and its not until it goes do u sometimes realise how bad it was. After reading about people using low doses of antidepressants for energy i thought i would try a half a zoloft that my wife was using, this was 25mg. I remember sitting on the back verandha just chilling or more like stunned mullet and it all of the sudden disappeared. This was only a couple of hours after trying zoloft. It was like a cloudy day and all of the sudden the sun came out and the clouds disappeared. I think sometimes apart of our brain just isnt working and sometimes extra neurotransmitters, in that case some extra serotonin switched on the rest of my brain. I have recently found a similar effect with adrafinil, not that i have alot of brain fog but just like apart of my brain isnt working but taking adrafinil switches the rest of my brain on.

    I think many of us have had bouts of depression with this crappy illness and my experience is that it is very different. Even though in the past low doses of antidepressants have helped, i think it was very different. I think its definately possible to have the whole lot going on which i think would make it hard to tell whats what. I think those who have had cfs/me for a few years would be able to tell.
  14. Little Bluestem

    Little Bluestem All Good Things Must Come to an End

    I find it ironic that you have to take meds to function well enough to be disabled. :sluggish:
    Valentijn, roxie60 and heapsreal like this.
  15. EtherSpin

    EtherSpin Senior Member

    Melbourne , Australia
    funny you asked, Im trying it now at the recommendation of a kind person - I wish I could say its helping but it keeps me walking around doing stuff in the morning and then by the time 3pm or so hits light is dancing,my focal area (the amount of visual information I can make sense of in any given moment) is a tiny dot and the slightest sound can make my heart jump. I skipped it this morning and will try it on the next day where I feel like im at my average energy level as im still recovering from appointments and tests a week ago .

    and yeah, as Bluestem said, its ironic about taking meds to enable disability! i often explain to the government assessment people that without a bit of piracetam and caffeine I wouldnt be finishing "this sentence"
  16. roxie60

    roxie60 Senior Member

    Central Illinois, USA
    recently the brain fog has been less but still have trouble with memory and focus but the depression has come in like a tornado. Depression and anxiety scare me more than all the other symps I've had to deal with over the years.
  17. Thinktank

    Thinktank Senior Member

    Has anyone here noticed a link between gut inflammation and depression / anxiety? Anyone interested in the topic should read up on the gut-brain connection and how inflammation in the gut can lead to impaired cognition.

    The last two months i've been having extreme anxiety and panic attacks triggered by food, hot weather and bright light.
    A colonoscopy with biopsies and pill cam endoscopy showed I have Crohn's disease, but it might be mastocystic enteritis as well. I also probably have mastocystic activation disorder or histamine intolerance but that still has to be proven.

    Eating a diet low in histamines and using certain medications for my Crohn's disease have dimished the panic attacks and anxiety by a lot. Reducing inflammation in the gut-brain axis = less cognitive problems?
    I'm still totally brain fogged with depersonalization problems but i'm sure that will improve as well, eventually.
    Bob likes this.
  18. Spiki


    Hi I'm 44 and been taking antidepressants (Fluvoxamine - Luvox) for some months mostly for depression/anxiety. I have been suffering from brain fog (which I assumed was a side effect of the Luvox) , and some very sore joints including a very stiff neck, and sleep issues. Leading up to the depression/anxiety (which is disputable) I was becoming increasingly irritated and snappy at people.

    Recently I saw the Doctor who noticed I had an ear infection. He prescribed 7 days of Amoxil antibiotics. Within 2 days of starting the antibiotics my brain fog lifted and the sore joints are almost completely healed. I've also been sleeping better. I have been bitten by many ticks and leaches and been exposed to some very very mouldy environments. I explained all this to the doctor but he dismisses any possibility that it's anything more than a coincidence that the antibiotics have improved my brain and joints.

    I'm adamant that I have some kind of bacterial infection affecting my brain and joints, he disagrees. The course of antibiotics will finish in a couple of days. I will come back with an update. Any thoughts?

    Thank you and good health to everybody !!
    Valentijn and Bob like this.
  19. Valentijn

    Valentijn Senior Member

    @Spiki - You might want to find a doctor who will thoroughly test you for chronic bacterial infections, and treat any that turn up. Though some antibiotics will have an effect for reasons other than their antibiotic properties, such as by reducing inflammation or impacting glutamate receptors or similar.

    In any case, investigating further might lead to more helpful treatments and reduced symptoms.
    duncan likes this.
  20. Marky90

    Marky90 Science breeds knowledge, opinion breeds ignorance

    For me its reduced concentration, mental fatigue and generally feeling "out of it"

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