PTSD brain fog is a significant symptom that can greatly impact a patient’s daily life. If you lack mental clarity, feel constantly fatigued, and have difficulty concentrating, you may be suffering from PTSD brain fog. Let’s discuss the diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment to help you better understand this common complication of post-traumatic stress disorder.
How Is PTSD Brain Fog Diagnosed?
Post-traumatic stress disorder is the body and mind’s response to a traumatic event. Many symptoms are associated with PTSD, including flashbacks, panic attacks, intrusive thoughts, and nightmares. These symptoms can occur spontaneously or as a result of triggers or exposure.
PTSD brain fog is a symptom not typically discussed as often as others. Still, PTSD has a significant impact on the central nervous system, which, in turn, can cause dissociation, brain fog, and even physical symptoms.
Exposure to trauma can impact the body in several ways. Many patients notice a change in their mental state, which is where PTSD brain fog comes into play. To understand diagnosis, you’ll need to learn how to identify brain fog.
What Is PTSD Brain Fog?
As the name suggests, brain fog occurs when you can’t think clearly or your brain is clouded. Symptoms include:
- Inability to focus
- Spacing out
- Feeling disconnected from your environment or those around you
- Memory issues
- Short attention span
- Losing your train of thought quickly and easily
- Trouble with conversations
Although brain fog isn’t a condition on its own, it can be a symptom of several different neurological conditions including PTSD.
The Connection Between Trauma and Brain Fog
So, what is the connection between post-traumatic stress disorder and brain fog? Significant exposure to trauma can cause inflammation in the brain. Inflammation is a serious issue that contributes to several physical health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Since PTSD leads to brain changes, neuroinflammation can cause the symptoms of brain fog. The connection here is that the two- PTSD and brain fog- cause or contribute to each other. So, when a patient experiences neurological changes from PTSD, those changes can be manifested as brain fog.
How Does PTSD Brain Fog Impact the Nervous System?
Essentially, the sympathetic nervous system responds to trauma with a fight, flight, freeze, or fawn response. You’ve probably heard of this reaction as your body works to protect against threat. During this type of response, you release the stress hormone cortisol which leads to PTSD symptoms.
Although everyone has cortisol in their system, and it can be incredibly helpful in the right amounts, excess cortisol can lead to body inflammation. When exposed to trauma, your nervous system needs to reset and digest what you’ve experienced. Otherwise, you’ll stay in the fight-or-flight mode and maintain a continuous state of stress that causes additional health effects.
When you live with PTSD, your body can maintain higher levels of cortisol. Eventually, the elevated inflammation can impact the brain, causing PTSD brain fog, cognitive difficulties, and even memory loss.
What Symptoms Should I Monitor?
Many common PTSD symptoms occur before brain fog sets in, including:
- Intrusive thoughts
- Cognitive changes
- Mood changes
- Harmful behavior
- Distressing dreams or memories
- Concentration issues
Brain Fog Treatment
If you suspect you have symptoms of brain fog, the good news is that it’s manageable. You can treat the symptom and reduce its effects. Self-care is the best way to calm the nervous system and reduce brain inflammation. Self-care treatment includes:
- Improvements to diet– Since diet impacts brain function, eating nutrient-dense food can improve your symptoms. Consume a diet high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, olive oil, fish, and low-fat dairy. Make small changes one at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
- Sleep improvements– Research also links sleep deprivation to neuroinflammation. If you’re living with PTSD brain fog, make sure you work hard to get the right amount of sleep. Build better sleep habits, including cutting off screen time, reducing caffeine, and creating a routine.
- Exercise daily– Exercise also helps reduce inflammation by increasing circulation through the body and brain. This helps deliver nutrients more efficiently to the brain, ultimately improving sleep, physical health, and mental health. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise and to days of strength training each week. When you break it down, that’s only 30 minutes of exercise a day for five days.
- Practice mindfulness– Mindfulness is another great way to treat the symptoms of PTSD brain fog. Mindfulness and meditation helps calm the nervous system and diminish your body’s fight-or-flight response when a threat no longer exists. However, mindfulness can also trigger PTSD symptoms in some patients. Talk to your Vancouver mental health provider to decide if mindfulness is right for you.
Treat Brain Fog and Other PTSD Symptoms Effectively with My Recon Therapy
Everyone responds to trauma differently, with some experiencing more significant symptoms than others. In many cases, PTSD can make it difficult for your nervous system to reset and move out of the fight-or-flight response, resulting in elevated inflammation and brain fog.
Lifestyle changes such as improving diet, enhancing your sleep schedule, exercising, and practicing mindfulness can improve brain fog in many patients. At My Recon Therapy, our mental health professionals in Vancouver have extensive experience treating various symptoms of PTSD. Contact us today to discuss your symptoms with one of our mental health experts and create a treatment plan that works for you!