We can all probably relate to these statements – doing something that seems ridiculous to our usual rational self. Can it purely be down to hormones? At what point do we need to be concerned that something is seriously wrong?
Brain Fog or Memory Loss
Hormonal brain fog?
In the early stages of menopause, many women experience changes in their ability to think clearly and make decisions, often called brain fog.
Brain fog symptoms may include:-
- Feeling spaced out or confused – can be described as having a head full of cotton wool
- Difficulty remembering common words
- Forgetting daily tasks or losing train of thought
- Being easily distracted
- Thinking slower than usual
- Feeling extreme fatigue
What causes brain fog?
The cause of brain fog is the fluctuation of hormone levels which first occur during perimenopause. Amongst many other things, these hormones play a role in cognition, affecting memory and concentration.
Other menopausal symptoms can also play their part in these difficulties, such as dealing with night sweats, difficulty sleeping, and anxiety which can exacerbate the situation.
How can we limit the effects of brain fog?
The most basic way to help alleviate brain fog is to stay hydrated. As 75% of the brain is made up of water, even low levels of dehydration can affect cognitive functions.
With our busy lives, it can be easy to forget to drink enough, but actively drinking more water can help.
Adding more healthy fats to our diet can help. Omega 3 and unsaturated fats carry brain-protective properties that can help to slow down cognitive decline and impairment.
Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity exercise 5 times a week can help to increase cognitive flexibility and working memory. When we are feeling dragged down by menopausal symptoms, slogging it out in the gym can feel like the last thing we want to do, but with the lighter nights and slightly warmer weather, even a brisk walk will count towards this goal.
Get enough rest – It is widespread for women to suffer from a lack of sleep due to fluctuating hormones.
Allow time to unwind from the day’s stresses before bed, and trying to keep a comfortable temperature could help.
The latter stages of your sleep cycle are when the brain stores memories, consolidates ideas and processes information. This time is essential for brain health.
Healthy brain ageing
The natural process of ageing is unavoidable. We will inevitably slow down, become a little more forgetful, and require more assistance with tasks.
How can we tell the difference between hormonal brain fog, natural ageing, and something more serious that may cause concern?
Alzheimer’s disease affects
over 900,000 people in the UK.
The main signs of Alzheimer’s include:-
- Forgetting information recently learned
- Asking the same question on repeat
- Forgetting important dates or tasks
- Making errors or not being able to understand household bills or finances
- Losing track of time – not knowing the month or season
- Forgetting how you got somewhere
- Trouble reading or judging distance
- Loss of balance
- Putting things in unusual places
- Difficulty with personal hygiene/grooming
- Withdrawal from social activities
Whilst there are a few similarities between a temporary difficulty and a more long-term severe memory problem, it is relatively clear to see the difference.
Recognising that the silly thing you have done is entirely out of character. Keeping a sense of humour can also relieve stress. If you ask your friends of a similar age, they can probably all share a story of their brain fog episodes, proving that you are not alone.
The good news is that once we are through the main stages of menopause, whether we have done it naturally or with the help of HRT, cognitive issues appear to improve and stabilise.
If you are seriously concerned that your actions are irregular, seek help from your GP, who can refer you for testing.
For more information please contact https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/
Article researched and written by : Nikki Blackwell
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