What is Brain Fog?

Do these lyrics from Diamond Rio’s “Beautiful Mess”, remind you of you or someone you know? Now, this was talking about being in love but I thought it sounded a lot like having BRAIN FOG!

Have you ever been called a Space Cadet, Airhead, or even Dumb?

I have my 15-year class reunion this summer and I’ll be introducing my fiance to many of my classmates. Unfortunately, if I were to guess two words that my classmates would use to describe me they would be,“forgetful airhead”.

My fiance has met one of my classmates who was in the top five of our class and when I told him that I graduated with my engineering degree he looked shocked! Actually, this was the expected reaction and I can’t wait to see it over and over again. 

When I was young I had a hard time focusing on anything besides TV. Also, I had a hard time memorizing anything. This combination of lack of focus and bad memory made it very difficult in school.

Today, I have made many changes to improve my focus but I still have a hard time remembering things such as people’s names. I’m doing this blog to tell people what I have learned and done to rid myself of the “forgetful airhead” label and hopefully, learn from my readers how to keep improving my focus and memory.

Now for the information you really came to find out! What is brain fog? Brain fog isn’t a technical medical term but is often seen used as a symptom of several medical conditions such as ADD, ADHD, depression, thyroid disease and autoimmune diseases such as lupus, celiac, Crohn’s and disorders such as fibromyalgia. 

According to the Marriam-Webster dictionary, brain fog means, “a usually temporary state of diminished mental capacity marked by inability to concentrate or to think or reason clearly” [Marriam-Webster]. Dr. Lawrence Wilson describes it in more detail here [Wilson]:

A clinical definition of brain fog.  Brain fog may be described as feelings of mental confusion or lack of mental clarity.  It is called brain fog because it can feel like a cloud that reduces your ability to think clearly.  It can cause a person to become forgetful, detached and often discouraged and depressed. It usually is present most of the time, meaning it does not come and go, although it may become better or worse depending on what a person eats, or one’s state of rest and hydration.

Brain fog is not recognized as a clinical diagnosis because it is not easy to test for it.  It is quite subjective, in other words.  The person just knows that they do not function well, and the mind often seems foggy or cloudy.  This is not the same as dementia, mental retardation, anxiety, depression or other common mental symptoms.


In my experience, brain fog was a constant state that I was in and some of the signs included:

  1. Unable to focus on tasks
  2. Forgetting events
  3. Forgetting names
  4. Forgetting things such as homework, keys, phone, etc. 
  5. Unable to come up with words during conversation.

What are some of the signs of brain fog hat you have had? 




Author: liftbrainfoggmailcom

My name is Trent and I went from hyper, class clown and below average student to become an engineer! When I was young I had a hard time focusing on anything besides TV and usually went from extremely hyper to tired many times throughout the day. Also, I had a hard time memorizing anything. This combination of lack of focus and bad memory made it very difficult in school. By 5th grade I had very little confidence and tried to make up for it by making my classmates laugh. Unfortunately, I was desperate and would try to be cool by acting out in school which ended up with me being suspended multiple times. My Dad still says that he spent more time in school that year than I did! Also, I spent an hour with a psychologist every other week for most of my elementary school years due to my lack of focus in school and behavior. Fast forward to Junior High and High School and my behavior improved and I was no longer hyper as often but I always tired and still unable to focus. Increasingly, I was having issues with my stomach as well. I was diagnosed with lactose intolerance, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and depression. Removing lactose from my diet helped but I was still having issues with my stomach and depression even with medication. These issues continued throughout High School and my time in the Navy. Fast forward to 2008 at 25 years old when I got out of the Navy and returned home to stay. I was golfing with my Dad and his friend who is a Celiac. My Dad mentioned my symptoms to him and he said that those were similar to his and that I should remove gluten from my diet. After just two days without gluten, I felt amazing and my IBS was no longer an issue except for after having too much caffeine! I've been gluten free now for 8 years and my life has changed drastically! My dream since I was a kid was to take one of my crazy ideas for an invention or business and make it a reality. Considering my dream I thought the best way to reach my goal was to start by going back to school and engineering seemed to be best degree to teach me the skills I needed. However, engineering is math intensive and math was my worst subject and only subject that I ever received an 'F' in. With my new found energy and ability to focus, I had just enough confidence to go for it. After a very successful, few weeks of College Algebra, I knew that my diet had given me a new lease on life! Finally, here I am today working on my Master's Thesis for Telecommunications Engineering!! However, I still feel that I can maintain steady energy and focus longer by improving my diet and getting better sleep. My family has issues such as food allergies and sleep apnea which I hope to learn more about by research and hearing from my readers!

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