Written by: Marilyn Abrahamson, MA,CCC-SLP - CBHC
Another study specifically measured the effects of brain fog on quality of life (QoL) at work. It showed that QoL at work was reduced for over 75% of study participants continuing to experience brain fog symptoms. There were many symptoms included under the umbrella term brain fog, however, in this study, memory problems and difficulty with multitasking had the most significant impact on QoL at work.
● NEUROINFLAMMATION: Increased levels of inflammatory cytokines (molecules produced by the immune system that help the body fight infection) have been found within the brain for weeks after a bout with Covid-19. When the immune system becomes uncontrolled, it can cause increased inflammation in the brain, resulting in poor communication between the brain cells and nerve pathways, causing the brain to feel foggy and slow.
● REDUCED OXYGEN AND BLOOD FLOW TO THE BRAIN: Covid-19 is primarily a respiratory virus and can cause hypoxia (reduced levels of oxygen) in some patients. This reduction of oxygen and blood flow to the brain can result in a metabolic disturbance, disrupting the connection between brain cells and the blood vessels that supply them with nourishment. Imaging studies showed the same metabolic changes in both the brains of patients who had suffered from hypoxia as well as those with Long Covid brain fog symptoms. Notably, this is also a similar mechanism for lingering cognitive symptoms after traumatic brain injury.
● DISTRACTION CAUSED BY THE PRESENCE OF OTHER LINGERING SYMPTOMS: This is not exclusive to Covid-19, but the symptoms of brain fog can be partially attributed to associated symptoms such as acute or long-standing bouts with headaches, fatigue, and body aches. The presence of any type of physical discomfort or emotional upset can make cognitive tasks more difficult due to distraction, causing the lack of attention, focus and concentration.
● Puzzles or brain training apps like Brain HQ can be helpful.
● Try to get 7-8 hours of good quality sleep each night.
● Eat a brain healthy diet high in monounsaturated fats, plant protein, whole grains, and seafood.
● Stay connected with others and socialize often.
● Try mindfulness and meditation to help reduce stress and improve focused attention.
● Learning and using both internal and external memory strategies. There are strategies for name recall, remembering lists and reminders, organizational systems and calendar management. These are compensatory strategies that help people work around the part of their brains that are not working as well as they did before.
● Pacing oneself. If fatigue sets in, it can cause more fogginess. Taking a break is the best way to reset and recharge.
● Aside from seeing their personal physician, consulting a mental health professional is crucial if a person is experiencing mood changes or depression.
"5 NEGATIVE ANTIGEN TESTS DO NOT MATCH HOW OFF I FEEL..."
THE SCIENCE OF THE MAGNETIC GAZE & THE HEALING POWER OF PAW-SITIVITY
Written by: Dr. Roberta Kline
It is known that a lengthy eye contact (or mutual gaze) forges a unique engagement between two individuals that somehow activates the release of our oxytocin, which also mediates a powerful emotional bond. One of the best-known examples of this is in the bond created between mother and infant. The oxytocin response is a feedback loop- a nurturing gaze from mom releases oxytocin in the infant, which stimulates production of oxytocin in the mother, then further stimulating nurturing behavior into a self-sustaining positive feedback loop. (See complete article)
2022: THE EVER-ESCALATING RISE IN ANXIETY (Generalized Anxiety Disorder)
By: Soraya Behzadi
Introduction (by: IPHA News Editorial Team): The medical community classifies Generalized Anxiety Disorder as "a condition of excessive worry about everyday issues and situations". It is identified as 'persistent worrying', over-thinking or recurring anxiety about specific matters and areas that are beyond actual proportion to their real impact. GAD encompasses irregular worrying, fatigue, restlessness, irritability, loss of focus and trouble sleeping. This next feature is presented within our BRAIN HEALTH issue partly aligned with our post Covid-19 (Brain Fog) review due to the significant correlation between a global spike in anxiety disorder cases within our pandemic culture. This mental health wave reflects many links between cognitive and physiological distress due to the biochemical effects of post-Covid issues - where amplified anxiety is reported as one of the many.
Traditional stigmas of associating a mental health disorder with weakness and emotional dysregulation, has been one of the downfalls toward treatment advancement. Many articles speak upon the severity of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) but the common cause and basic treatment in order to help these individuals seem to lack an overall conclusion. This can lead patients feeling hopeless with their disorder, not knowing where to start when it comes to finding beneficial coping mechanisms. This article is set out to be informative regarding GAD and hopes to not only bring new information, but more clarity on individuals that struggle with chronic anxiety.
Many people struggle with GAD. One particular individual I observed, Patient X, is a twenty year old female. In her early adolescent years, the patient struggled with somniphobia, fear of worrying about dying in her sleep. This fear manifested into a period of vast anxiety that limited her from getting an adequate amount of sleep for a one month period. During her first semester in college, bullying by her roommate triggered her initial insomnia attack. Feeling out of control, she developed intense insomnia averaging 1-3 hours of sleep for the duration of the semester. Seeking treatment, 3 milligrams of Eszopiclone was prescribed, but was not effective. She went back home, hoping to ease her anxiety, but it manifested into distortions regarding body image, academic performance, and personal relationships.
The patient can be diagnosed with GAD. When reviewing the criteria from the DSM-5, the symptoms listed prior persisted for more than a period of 6 months. The study, “The Neurobiological Mechanisms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Chronic Stress,” researchers described symptoms of GAD to include, “feeling restless, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating or mind going blank, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance” . She experienced feeling mentally and emotionally fatigued as her insomnia persisted. She lacked the ability to concentrate on her daily priorities, and became consumed with the possible negative outcomes of the future. Restlessness and decreased appetite was a result of having GAD.
Looking into the patient's family history, a genetic component could be a possible cause of her GAD. Researchers found that women have higher rates of anxiety disorders than men, “The National Comorbidity Survey found that rates for GAD were women: 6.6% vs. men: 3.6%” 
From a cognitive perspective, the patient developed GAD from feeling a disproportionate level of worry over an emotional trigger. If she focused on the negative outcomes of any situation, she would be able to gain more control having already predicted the outcome. Patient X experienced two types of cognitive biases to threat, attentional bias as well as interpretive bias (Rathus et al., 2017). Factors contributing to GAD include basic personality trait neuroticism in which she experiences a higher tendency towards negative emotions and moods. Anatomic or neurotransmitter irregularities can also cause a decreased hippocampal volume and cognitive abilities, where there are lower levels of the neurotransmitters that regulate mood like GABA and serotonin.
Weight loss and lack of sleep can be addressed with antidepressants, SSRIs, and benzodiazepines to help ease her back into a more regulated mental state. (Rathus et al., 2017). The importance of studying GAD can be supported in the article, “Achieving Remission in Generalized Anxiety Disorder.” Researchers speak about the remission rates patients have achieved while battling GAD, “Between 50% and 60% of patients respond clinically to therapy, but only one-third to one-half attain remission or realize full recovery during the acute phase of treatment. Patients who achieve a sustained remission are less likely to experience relapse” . With treatments of CBT and anti-anxiety medications, the patient will be able to live a comfortable life with GAD. With this path, patients will not be defined by their diagnosis, but will learn to adapt to it over time with a proper treatment plan.
1.) Laura A. Mandos, PharmD , Jennifer A. Reinhold, PharmD, BCPS, BCPP , Karl Rickels, MD. (2009). Achieving Remission in Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Psychiatric Times. https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/achieving-remission-generalized-anxiety-disorder. (2.) American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Anxiety disorders. In Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596.dsm05 (3.) Patriquin, M. A., & Mathew, S. J. (2017). The Neurobiological Mechanisms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Chronic Stress. Chronic Stress. https://doi.org/10.1177/2470547017703993 (4.) Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2017, October 13). Generalized anxiety disorder. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/generalized-anxiety-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20361045. (5.) McLean, C. P., Asnaani, A., Litz, B. T., & Hofmann, S. G. (2011). Gender differences in anxiety disorders: prevalence, course of illness, comorbidity and burden of illness. Journal of psychiatric research, 45(8), 1027–1035. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2011.03.006