How do I deal with constant brain fog?

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    • #113478

      I have a deadline to reach this week at work but of course, I just have to have a really bad case of brain fog. My mind feels so damn numb. I also seem to be really tired and I can’t even sustain my eye focus. It feels nicer to just let my vision blur.

      Why is this happening? Because I can’t friggin clear my mind. Ritalin helped a tiny bit but not enough. Not nearly enough.

      Also, it feels like there’s a phantom itch in my brain. I think my mind is hardcore craving for a certain type of stimulation, but I dunno what. None of my go-to strategy games are relieving this itch.

      I’m so goddamned frustrated. I want this feeling to stop, forever. It’s hard to even write this stuff out due to how sluggish my mind is right now. All I want to do is reach into my brain and scratch the hell out of it, then pour cold water over it to wake it up

    • #113480

      A couple of things that help for me –

      1) take a walk, a lot! I have a desk job and generally follow the rule of 50 min desk, 10 min walk every hour. Your body needs to move to help it concentrate. If you do not have that flexibility, see if you can get a stand up desk or sit on one of those balance balls at your desk.

      2) diet, diet, diet. ADHD brains are high performance engines and require premium fuel. Follow some of the diet suggestions on this website, lay off the white sugar and candy (if you are like me, candy is really hard to resist), and even go as far as trying one of those special diets. I have had really good success with Plant Paradox and The Zone Diet. Also, a good fish oil supplement is helpful. Diet remedies will kick in within a few days if you follow them. You do not need to be religious to them except you will find excess sugar will kill most of the benefits of any diet. Also, do your best to eliminate corn syrup.

      3. If you still have trouble with brain fog after trying those above, you should talk to your doctor because you may have something else going on or need a medication dose adjustment.

      Best of luck!!!

    • #113482

      Hi, here are some tips that help me because my attention span is usually 5-15min:

      -break down the tasks to 5-15min tasks and vary them
      Sometimes, talking to someone, especially if it is someone I work well with, helps me to refocus.
      My buddies at work can sense when I’m stressed so they may just crack a joke along the way and that’s how we keep each other going.

      Eg: 15 min – do part 1 of report
      5 min- call someone to settle something

      -plan your day so that you can finish all the important things during your most productive times. I’m productive early in the morning,especially when it is quiet and there are very few people around at 7am in the office as we start work at 8.30am.
      -3-4pm are my worst times of the day and I usually feel a bit tired, so I would do mundane work that don’t require much thinking such as filing and photocopying.
      -Alternatively, it would be good to ask colleagues for advice about how to complete it more quickly or if they can help to provide some information you need. If you ask them in advance, maybe they can set aside some time for you.

      I think it’s OK that you are not equally focused and productive during the full working hours as long as you work in a way that helps you get the important things done.

      Having a checklist can help to keep track of work done /to do. After this assignment, you can also think about ways to finish it quicker, eg by changing the sequence of tasks,what can you do while waiting for someone to reply or something to be processed.

    • #113595
      Penny Williams

      Sounds like stress overwhelm. I agree that breaking it down into very small chunks might help. The more you focus on the feeling, the worse it gets.

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #113646

      Sounds like me when I am under a lot of stress. I call it “Nintendo World” because I am so disconnected I feel like I am playing an avatar of myself in my daily life. I HATE that feeling!

      I agree with what was said already. Self-care, up your meds, diet, and exercise. I would also add sleep and maybe some anxiety meds to supplement adhd meds. I am currently on 150 mg sertraline (Zoloft) and 15 adderall xr. I have not visited “Nintendo World” since I have been on both meds (about 1/2 a year). Hope you can find some relief soon!

    • #113725

      Hi all, thanks for the feedback!! I definitely need to look into my diet; I definitely don’t have a healthy one. Not to mention a terrible sleep schedule. To add to that, I work full time and studying part time for a degree. So yeah, stress overwhelm for sure.

      Nikcococo, yeah, I have that routine to organize myself actually! But when the brain fog settle in, all I’m doing is attempting damage control and trying to not trip in life until my head clears, which could take daysss.

      Also, people have been saying I may be dehydrated, and true enough, I’m not a person who likes plain water so I rarely drink it. That’s about to change today.

      Time to be the adult that I am I guess ;_; less/no sugar, no chocolates, more healthy stuff…

    • #113729

      Hi Nevvie, yes it’s hard to work full time and study part time! I did that for a few years.

      Some colleagues, suppliers and customers I worked with were super supportive when I told them I’m studying part time and we worked out arrangements where I send them some documents in advance and they will help me settle it earlier before my exams or resolve for me so that I can spend less time on it.

      I make my own fruit puree energy drinks for brain fog days by boiling blueberries with 10% sugar + some water if needed, store in a glass jar for a few days. I drink a few tablespoons of it with warm water. Or bring a fruit salad to work. It helps me stay alert for a while.

    • #113732


      I’ve also been diagnosed recently with ADD, after a long period of going from doctor to doctor and having wrong diagnosis’s.

      For me sleep, eating healthy and exercising is key to feeling myself better, i’m no expert as i’m currently investigating this whole thing called ADD myself.

      Before i go to sleep i take 100mg trazodone, which gives me a good REM sleep every night and gives my brain the rest it really needs. In the morning i eat some oatmeal, fruits and a protein shake to supercharge my brain.

      I am also looking to get in contact with people who are willing to discuss this more in detail, as i’m very interested in how ADD feels for other people and how they solve particular symptoms?


    • #114013

      I have the exact same problem and at times I am in utter despair. While I agree with many of the suggestions, it’s very hard to focus on nutrition, exercise and mindfulness when you are literally paralyzed by brain fog. You analogize it to an “itch,” for me it’s literally paralysis.
      I have had success taking a combination of ADD medication and natural amino acids (tyrosine and 5-HTP combined in a product called NeuroReplete). My functional medicine doctor advises me on the dosage for the amino acids with the knowledge that I’m taking adderall. The I understand it, stimulants like adderall improve the brain’s use of dopamine but can deplete dopamine stores. The amino acids help with production. I’m not a doctor and do have not verified the veracity of that statement, but I do find that my brain fog tends to taper off after about a week of adding in the amino acids. Long term, the best solution seems to be nutrition, sleep, exercise and stress reduction, but I need a focused brain get me started.

    • #114015

      Find a good pyschiatrist. MDs cant help. For me thatss depression. I take Adderall for ADHD because no side effects and med for depression. If i lapse on depression med i am so tired. But a psych knows meds.

    • #114034
      Dr. Eric

      Agreeing with Outsider.

      Except, taking a walk only works if I have already done a high-intensity workout that day or day before. A walk alone won’t be enough for me.

      Also, those recommendations have the added benefit of helping me sleep better, which helps fight brain god as well.

    • #114092

      I share your frustration.

      It is so easy to cycle with good and not so good days, or days that are only half good. The biggest factors for me are sleep, nutrition, hydration, balanced with stimulant medication. I need stimulant medication to achieve “get stupid stuff done” energy as someone else put it in another blog. But, at that “therapeutic dose,” the side effects, diminished appetite, thirst, and sleep urge, increase proportionally. So you have to pay more attention to those basics, tracking them even. On the good days it’s so easy to neglect any one or all of these, but the effects accumulate and you crash or go back to “brain fog” and while you could try to up the dose of stimulant medication, it won’t work in my experience. That’s why I say I have a relationship with stimulant medications, it ebbs and flows as I learn how to work with it.

      These days, I focus most on balancing stimulant medication against adequate sleep. I use Adderall (IR and XR) and a sleep tracker (“dreem” headband) that breaks down each sleep component (deep, REM, light, awake). Every morning, I write down how well I sleep in the context of the amount of stimulant medication I took the day before and anything else that happened or relates to my sleep. For example, waking up hot is often a problem, so I make sure my thermostat is set low enough. I usually take a melatonin formulation, and try different types and amounts. Antacid and magnesium seem to help too, but not always, so I don’t always take them. I sleep in total darkness too, and try to follow good sleep hygiene. I want to try active cooling sleep stuff (e.g. “ooler” and “Bryte”) because stimulant medications seems to mess with hormones related to maintaining body temperature.

      It’s been trying and tracking stuff for years now. I make smaller adjustments now and focus on trying to get more of my day “covered” by ADHD meds without impairing sleep. You mentioned you use Ritalin. I tried methylphenidate (Concerta/, Ritalin) and its okey, but I found amphetamine salts (Adderall) takes away more “brain fog” but also is more likely to interfere with sleep. I want greater effect of Adderall and accept that I have to pay more attention to sleep and dosing.

      That’s enough for now. I hope it helps.

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