Some women complain of bloating or cramps every month, and then there are others who have to deal with confusion, forgetfulness and a lack of focus before Aunt Flo arrives. That’s brain fog before period! You may blame your hormones for this, but there are also multiple other causes of this phenomenon. Let us tell you about the reasons behind brain fog as a premenstrual syndrome symptom and how to deal with it.
Brain fog is a term that is used to describe a mental state characterised by confusion, forgetfulness, difficulty in concentrating and mental clarity issues, says Dr Ayushi Shukla, Consultant – Psychiatry, SRV Hospitals – Dombivli, Maharashtra. It is temporary and not really a medical diagnosis, but it often feels like a clouding of cognitive function, where people may struggle to think clearly or recall information.
Brain fog before period can be a symptom of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), says the expert. Here is why it may happen:
The primary cause of brain fog before a period is a change in hormones. A drop in estrogen and progesterone levels can affect neurotransmitters like serotonin. This, in turn, will impact your mood cognitive functioning and memory retention.
Many women experience disrupted sleep patterns during their menstrual cycle. They toss and turn a number of times and don’t get enough sleep. Insomnia or poor-quality sleep can lead to fatigue, which can contribute to brain fog.
Emotional symptoms associated with PMS or PMDD such as irritability and anxiety can affect concentration, focus and mental clarity, leading to brain fog.
Increased stress and anxiety levels around the time of the period can affect cognitive functioning. These emotional factors can create mental fog and interfere with daily activities during the day.
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Some women experience fluid retention (edema) during their menstrual cycle, which may lead to physical discomfort and a feeling of heaviness that can also affect mental alertness.
When you experience brain fog before menstruation, you can try these strategies to alleviate some of the symptoms.
Hormone therapies can help to stabilise hormone fluctuations, reducing cognitive symptoms, says Dr Shukla.
A balanced diet rich in complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and omega-3 fatty acids can help to manage mood and energy levels. Reducing salt and sugar intake may help to avoid fluid retention.
Regular physical activity is not all about staying in shape. It can also help to improve your mood and reduce stress, enhancing cognitive function. You don’t need one or two hours to work out to get the benefits. About 20 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises can help to improve your cognitive performance.
Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation and deep breathing are great ways to alleviate stress and anxiety, contributing to brain clarity, and preventing brain fog.
Prioritise quality sleep by maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and creating a comfortable sleeping environment. That means no checking phone or watching shows or movies on screens. Try to sleep for at least seven hours every night to avoid the brain fog getting worse.
If brain fog refuses to leave your side, make sure to check with a doctor.