Deciphering Brain Fog
By: Dr. Deborah Wong
Everyone has had days where they felt like they were moving in slow motion. Or as I like to describe it, like my brain is full of cotton candy.
‘Brain fog’ isn’t an official medical diagnosis or symptom, rather it’s a loose term used to describe the common feeling of poor concentration, forgetfulness, chronic mental fatigue, indecision, irritability and low energy. Mention brain fog and we all know instantly, even though there isn’t a definite definition, what it means.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a powerful protein that stimulates the production of new brain cells and strengthens existing ones. More specifically, releasing BDNF activates a series of genes that develop new cells and brain pathways. Thus, having high BDNF makes you learn faster, remember better, age more slowly, and reconnect your brain quickly.
Low BDNF has been linked to many brain-related conditions. These include anxiety disorders, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, schizophrenia, dementia, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, burnout syndrome, and suicidal behaviour. It’s not clear whether low BDNF causes these disorders or is a side effect of them.
There have also been studies to show correlation between low BDNF and obesity, hypertension and insomnia.
High BDNF on the other hand increases the brain’s plasticity, suppresses brain inflammation, acts as a natural antidepressant, counteracts the negative effects of stress on the brain, and protects the brain from neurodegenerative diseases. Evidence suggests it can even control lifespan.
To be continued…