13.06.2024

Six in 10 people in Britain now suffer from brain fog on a daily basis since Covid pandemic

If you’re losing your train of thought more often than you used to, it turns out that you’re not alone – and the reason might not have anything to do with age.

A report has found that six in ten British adults are now affected daily by brain fog: an informal term to describe a range of symptoms including poor concentration, feeling confused, thinking more slowly and general ‘fuzzy’ thoughts.

The report also cites the Covid pandemic as a key factor.

The report, commissioned by food supplements firm FutureYou Cambridge, discovered that high levels of stress, depression and anxiety caused up to 36 million people to suffer forgetfulness and poor concentration. Over half of Britons said their memory had got worse in the past two years, and 61 per cent that they lost their train of thought as many as ten times a day.

FutureYou’s Dr Miriam Ferrer, a molecular biologist, said: ‘Over the past couple of years, due to the Covid pandemic, we have all been subjected to high levels of stress. We’ve worried about our health and the health of our family and friends, and about job insecurity – and now we’re seeing the consequences.

A report has found that six in ten British adults are now affected daily by brain fog: an informal term to describe a range of symptoms including poor concentration, feeling confused, thinking more slowly and general ‘fuzzy’ thoughts. [File image]

A report has found that six in ten British adults are now affected daily by brain fog: an informal term to describe a range of symptoms including poor concentration, feeling confused, thinking more slowly and general ¿fuzzy¿ thoughts. [File image]

‘Stress increases the hormone cortisol, and studies show that elevated levels of cortisol for a long period can be associated with overall poorer cognitive function.’

She added: ‘A prolonged release of cortisol can also lead to brain fog, as it can affect the areas of the brain important for cognition [the mental processes used to acquire knowledge and understanding].’

Psychiatrist Dr Luca Sforzini, of King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, said that ‘chronic stress does lead to higher than normal levels of cortisol’, and that the effect on memory could be ‘impactful and detrimental’. He also said ‘executive functions’, such as ability to focus and plan ahead, could be compromised too.

The pandemic had certainly added stress to many people’s lives, Dr Sforzini added. But he emphasised that not everyone reacts to the same stress in the same way.

During the pandemic, the Centre for Mental Health charity estimated that up to ten million British people might need mental health support in its aftermath.

During the pandemic, the Centre for Mental Health charity estimated that up to ten million British people might need mental health support in its aftermath. [File image]

During the pandemic, the Centre for Mental Health charity estimated that up to ten million British people might need mental health support in its aftermath. [File image]

This was backed up by a Government mental health and wellbeing report last April which found that older people who were recommended to shield tended to experience higher levels of depression and anxiety than others of a similar age who were not.

The same report found that the prevalence of ‘clinically significant’ depressive symptoms nearly doubled from 12.5 per cent pre-pandemic to 22.6 per cent in the summer of 2020. By late autumn, it had risen further to 28.5 per cent.

Dr Ferrer advised that in order to boost memory and cognition, people should eat healthily, cut down on alcohol and be sure to get enough sleep.

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