Depression and Brain Fog
Today, I want to talk with you about—hold on, I just had it a second ago—there definitely was something—oh yes. Today I want to talk to you about fuzzy thinking.
Fuzzy thinking—when your thought feels dulled—has been in the news a lot recently. A new study just came out that linked it with depression.
That certainly is true. A lack of mental acuity and an increase in fatigue are two of the surest indicators of depression and related mental disorders.
However, both of those symptoms can often be explained by other causes as well.
Today, we’re going to look at this new study, at what other conditions can cause fuzzy thinking, and at a number of things you can do to solve this issue, regardless of its root cause.
The Results Are In
Since depression was first recognized as a clinical diagnosis, sufferers have complained about a dullness of thought.
That’s been difficult to verify. Thanks to the self-doubt and pessimism often engendered by depression, it’s been difficult to know whether this subjective self-reporting was accurate or not.
Now, we know that it is. A study testing mental quickness found that women with depression and with bi-polar disorders both performed well below a control group.
Some sufferers were able to outscore the unafflicted. But the lowest scores consistently came from those with mental disorders.
The reflexes in their brains simply slowed down.
This could be seen in MRIs as well. In depressed individuals, the right posterior parietal cortex—responsible for the brain’s executive functions, like decision making—was much more active in those suffering from MDD (major depressive disorder).
Meanwhile, bi-polar individuals showed very low levels of activation in the same region.
It appears the two disorders are on opposite ends of a continuum, with “average” people sitting right in the middle.
This is a very important finding. Not only does it highlight a major symptom of these disorders, but it also shows the physical signs of mood disorders.
We’re slowly chipping away at the stigma involved with these problems.
However, there is a danger with this study as well. Many people, when experiencing fatigue or fuzzy thinking, will jump to depression as the culprit.
And, for the vast majority of people, that won’t be the case.
How To Tune Up Your Body
We can experience fatigue and fuzzy thinking due to all sorts of conditions.
Two weeks ago, John came to me complaining about exactly those symptoms. After running a few tests, we found he had low testosterone, and the precursors of a fatty (poorly functioning) liver.
I gave him some testosterone, and he started taking an omega-3 supplement, improved his nutrition, and visited the sauna a number of times to sweat out some toxins.
When I saw John yesterday—just two weeks after his initial visit—he was feeling great. The fatigue and fuzziness was gone. His bloodwork was much improved as well.
The truth is fatigue can be a symptom of any part of the body performing at a sub-optimal level. And fuzzy thinking often goes hand in hand with that.
Most commonly, fatigue is an example of a vitamin deficiency, poor nutritional choices, a lack of sleep, or even just under-hydration.
Before trying anything more drastic, I always recommend trying to give the body a smaller tune-up, before taking it into the shop.
That means taking vitamin supplements—especially vitamin D during the cold months. It means taking B12 and melatonin, to help with both energy and sleep cycles.
Everyone should be taking an omega-3 supplement, for heart health, mental clarity, to combat inflammation and more. But if you’re feeling fatigued, it’s even more important. Any organ that’s struggling—like John’s liver—can easily cause fatigue.
And, of course, eating the right things, exercising daily, and getting enough sleep are the base of all health.
If you’re doing all of those things correctly and still feel off, then it’s time to visit your doctor and see if you’re suffering from a mood disorder.
But be aware—fixing something like this can be more complicated than it first appears. Most doctors will simply prescribe Prozac or some variant and see what happens.
That’s fine if your serotonin levels are off. But Prozac only affects serotonin—and mood disorders can be caused by an imbalance in a number of different neurotransmitters. Serotonin is only one possibility.
Very few doctors test neurotransmitter levels. So most treatments are darts thrown in the dark.
That’s yet another reason to try to fix the problem with healthy living first.
Only after that fails should you see a specialist. But the odds are good, with an improvement in your diet, sleep, and supplements, that you won’t need one anymore.
Last Updated: August 16, 2018
Originally Published: June 15, 2015