Everyone has days where they feel like their head is in the clouds. Just this morning, I walked into my kitchen while getting ready, only to completely forget why I was there. On other days, this foggy headed feeling shows up in an inability to focus on a task, even if I know it's something I need to accomplish. Clearly, I'm not alone. According to a study at UCLA, one in seven adults under the age of 40 report forgetfulness due to their poor short-term memory. Commonly referred to as brain fog, the feeling can be caused by any number of things. In most cases, it's just a sign that you need to be getting more or better sleep. For others, brain fog is related to their anxiety, depression, or the medications they take to alleviate these conditions.
In up to 3 percent of adults, however, chronic brain fog can be a sign of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Women are most likely to be affected by chronic fatigue, comprising about 75 percent of all chronic fatigue patients, according to Dr. Fred Friedberg, a CFS researcher and professor of psychiatry at Stony Brook University's School of Medicine. "The worst thing about CFS is that you just can't function like you normally would," Dr. Friedberg tells Bustle.
Chronic fatigue is a long term illness that last anywhere from months to years. The symptoms can come and go and may come on quickly or very slowly start to appear. The syndrome most commonly appears inpatients in their 20s or 30s, although it is possible to show up in people older or, in rare cases, younger than that. Very little is known about CFS: There is no test to clearly diagnose it, researchers are unable to find its exact cause, and there is no cure. However, a diagnosis means that doctors can begin treating its symptoms and helping alleviate the foggy brain and exhaustion that comes with chronic fatigue syndrome.
If this sounds sort of like you,and your brain fog has begun to impact your day-to-day life, check out these six signs that your brain fog could be linked to chronic fatigue syndrome. Even if there's no cure for chronic fatigue, this could be helpful information to bring a medical professional to help create a plan to make you feel your best.