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Can depression cause brain fog? Indeed, if you are struggling with major depressive disorder, you may have noticed how it has affected your cognitive functioning. In fact, cognitive dysfunction happens to be a very common symptom of depression. To learn more about the symptoms of depression, including brain fog, read on!
What is Major Depressive Disorder?
Depression is a common mood disorder that affected about 21 million U.S. adults in 2021. Depression causes a range of symptoms that can adversely impact your daily functioning and quality of life.
There are different subtypes of depression:
- Major depressive disorder.
- Postpartum depression.
- Seasonal affective disorder.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
- Persistent depressive disorder.
- Bipolar depression.
Treatment for depression will focus on helping you obtain some relief from the symptoms through therapy, SSRIs, and holistic methods.
What is Brain Fog?
Brain fog, when related to depression, is a group of symptoms that affect your mental clarity and functioning. When you struggle to concentrate, to make decisions, to follow along in conversations, you have brain fog. Brain fog is also referred to as cognitive dysfunction.
Brain Fog and Other Symptoms of Depression
When someone experiences a low mood for more than two weeks, they may be dealing with depression. A doctor is able to assess whether you have depression versus another cause of the low mood using certain assessment techniques.
Depression has certain key features. When you have five or more of these symptoms that persist for over two weeks, you may have depression. Some of the symptoms are related to cognitive functioning or brain fog, or having trouble thinking clearly or making decisions.
The symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling sad or hopeless most of the time.
- Loss of interest in the things you normally enjoy.
- Trouble concentrating, or brain fog.
- Changes in sleep habits.
- Sudden weight loss or gain.
- Feeling worthless or guilty.
- Slowed thoughts or movements.
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
What Causes Depression?
Ongoing research and advanced imaging continue to provide new insights into the root causes of depression. To date, though, the exact cause of this mental health disorder remains a mystery.
However, there are some known factors that appear to play a role in depressive disorder. These include:
Brain chemistry. Mood regulation may be affected by brain activity and chemical imbalances.
Family history. If someone has a strong family history of depression, they are more prone to depression themselves. This points to a genetic component.
Personality. Our unique temperaments play a part in how we process and manage stressful life events.
Adverse life events. Those who have suffered serious adverse life events may develop depression. These might include trauma, physical or sexual abuse, sudden death of a loved one, divorce, or major money problems.
Health conditions. Certain medical conditions may trigger depression. These include cancer, stroke, lupus, dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, or HIV. The drugs used to manage a health condition may also cause depressive side effects.
Treatment Options for Depressive Disorder
When tackling depression, in order to achieve the best treatment results you must first undergo a thorough psych evaluation. This involves a detailed interview, assessment tools like questionnaires, a review of mental health history, and a medical review.
Once the exact diagnosis is made, the clinician will recommend a course of treatment based on the features of your depression. Medication is a standard treatment element regardless of which treatment setting is prescribed. Here are the most common depression treatment options:
Outpatient Treatment. Outpatient treatment is available in three levels of care:
- Standard outpatient. This equates to weekly (or more frequent) therapy sessions and joining a support group.
- Intensive outpatient program. The IOP provides more intensive treatment than standard therapy. It offers multiple sessions per week that are held at an outpatient mental health treatment center.
- Partial hospitalization program. The PHP offers the highest level of care for outpatient mental health treatment. It involves about 25-30 hours of treatment per week at an outpatient mental health treatment center.
Depression Retreats. Some people benefit from an intensive three or four-day immersive depression retreat. These are typically offered at a resort-type setting with high-end spa-like services and luxury amenities. The retreat offers a blend of evidence-based therapies and holistic treatments combined with gourmet meals and upscale accommodations.
Residential Treatment. The residential treatment option is the most intensive option for depression treatment, other than a hospital setting. Residential depression treatment programs include:
- Individual psychotherapy. CBT is a short-term therapy that can help you identify current thought distortions or negative self-talk. These are unhealthy thought patterns that keep you stuck in a negative mindset. CBT helps manage depression by guiding you toward shifting these thoughts towards more positive self-affirming beliefs.
- Group counseling. Meeting in small groups to discuss various topics around mental health, emotions, and coping can be very helpful in treatment.
- Medication. Antidepressant drug therapy is a central aspect of depression treatment. It may take a few trials before finding the best fit for your depression. Note that about 50% of patients do not benefit from these drugs.
- Holistic. When depression causes brain fog among other frustrating symptoms, holistic methods may help. This is mostly due to the stress reducing effects of practices like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing techniques.
Holistic and Alternative Depression Treatments
Treating depression can pose a challenge. When SSRIs are not effective, doctors should be open to trying alternative treatment methods. Some of these methods include:
TMS. TMS is a noninvasive brain stimulation therapy that speeds up neurons in the limbic region of the brain.
ECT. ECT is an inpatient and invasive treatment involving electrical shock to stimulate brain activity.
Holistic. Holistic methods can bring about a soothing, relaxed state of mind, which is beneficial when struggling with depression. These include aromatherapy, yoga, guided meditation, acupuncture, massage, and mindfulness.
Lifestyle changes. It has been found that healthy habits can improve mood and reduce stress. These actions include adopting a nutritious diet, getting at least seven hours of sleep each night, and regular exercise.
The Treatment Specialist Provides Online Guidance for Depressive Disorder and Brain Fog
The Treatment Specialist is an online resource for informative articles on mental health conditions and treatment options for adults, teens, and families. If your depression is causing brain fog, reach out to our team for helpful guidance. Call us today at (866) 644-7911.