Depression lack of concentration

Contents

Depression, Memory Loss, and Concentration

Memory loss and an inability to focus may not seem like obvious symptoms of depression — but they are more connected than most people realize.

“Research has suggested that processing speed — the ability to take in information quickly and efficiently — is impaired in individuals who are depressed,” explains Natascha Santos, PsyD, a psychologist and behavior therapist in Great Neck, N.Y. Many areas of the brain are involved with the creation and retrieval of memories. Irregularities in any of these areas, including those that create depression symptoms, can affect how you process memories and also influence your ability to concentrate.

Depression and Concentration: The Far-Reaching Effects

At first, depression-based memory loss and difficulty focusing may just be mildly annoying, but these types of cognitive defects can become quite serious over time and result in a diminished level of functioning in many capacities:

  • People with depression often feel like they can’t focus when giving or receiving direction, which can result in misunderstandings at home, work, or school.
  • Relationships may suffer if people begin to perceive your distraction as a lack of consideration for what they’re trying to tell you.
  • You may find that you can’t focus on a task if other things are taking place around you, distracting you from your intended job and leaving it incomplete or below expectations.
  • Comprehending what you are reading may become difficult, resulting in missed information from written instructions or a lack of enjoyment when reading for pleasure.
  • Driving can become dangerous if your train of thought strays and you find you can’t focus on the road.
  • Your ability to remember specific details may be hindered due to your lack of concentration when given new information.

Overcoming Depression Memory Loss

Getting treatment for your depression — which may include psychotherapy, medication, or other treatment modalities — is a must to get a handle on related cognitive problems such as memory loss and poor concentration. There are also specific steps you can take to improve your memory and ability to concentrate. Speak with your health care provider to determine the best options for you. Often, a combination of these treatment methods yields the best results:

  • Remediation techniques may isolate and correct your specific cognitive impairments through drills that target the tasks you’re having trouble with. Computer software programs, written exercises, or group activities are often used.
  • Compensatory strategies are based on the idea that there’s more than one way to reach a desired outcome. With this approach you’re taught to use your strengths to compensate for any areas of cognitive deficiency. For example, if you are going shopping and have a poor verbal memory, you might not be able to remember the three items you were asked to purchase. If you’re better with categorizing, you might mentally sort the items into categories, such as dairy, snacks, and pet products, which can help you remember that you need to get milk, potato chips, and cat litter. Personal learning styles and preferences factor in, so it’s helpful to have an ongoing dialogue with your doctor. Over time, he or she will be able to determine the best compensatory strategies for you.
  • Adaptive approaches focus on changes you can make in your environment to help you function better. For example, if you have difficulty remembering tasks, you might use a digital recorder to dictate notes or record information that you can review later.

Depression and Concentration: Helpful Tips and Tricks

As you look to strategies to resolve depression memory loss, these tips can ease the impact of poor memory and concentration on your day-to-day life:

  • Move conversations to a quiet area with minimal distractions. Ask colleagues to speak about work matters in a private room rather than common spaces.
  • Don’t answer your phone if you’re somewhere you’ll be distracted — let it go to voicemail so that you can listen to the call later and respond appropriately.
  • Make a list of daily tasks you need to accomplish and cross them off as they’re completed.
  • Use sticky notes as reminders in places where you’re sure to see them and write important reminders down immediately when they come to mind.
  • Have a set place at home and at work to store everyday items, such as car keys and your cell phone.
  • Take notes during meetings or use a recording device when appropriate so that you can review the information at a later time.

Finally, be honest with loved ones if you’re having a hard time focusing, especially during a conversation. This may prevent hurt feelings or miscommunications with the people who care about you the most.

How To Concentrate On Work When You’re Depressed, Because An Inability To Focus Is A Common Symptom

If you’ve been diagnosed with depression, you’ve probably been asked at some point whether you’re having difficulty concentrating, or whether you’ve lost interest in things. Both are common symptoms of the mental illness, and both can make work extremely difficult. First and foremost, people with depression should seek proper medical treatment — but mental health experts also recommend several methods if you want to know how to concentrate on work when you’re depressed.

The Mental Health Foundation lists both “difficulty concentrating” and “finding it hard to function at work,” as symptoms of depression. And it doesn’t matter whether you typically enjoy your job — people with depression might also find it hard to “enjoy things that are usually pleasurable or interesting,” according to the Foundation. The charity also indicates that over 14 percent of people in the UK experience mental health issues in the workplace, so if you’re struggling, you’re far from alone.

If your depression is impacting your ability to focus at work, your first step should be speaking to your doctor or psychologist, who might be able to adjust your therapy accordingly. Small tweaks to your work life, however, can supplement your treatment, whether that’s discussing your depression with your boss or ensuring you take the entirety of your lunch break. Wondering what you can do to improve your concentration in the office? Keep reading.

1. Speak To Your Boss

Aila Images/Stocksy

Under the Equality Act 2010, people with a long-term mental health condition (a condition which lasts “or is likely to last” over 12 months, as defined by the government) are legally protected against discrimination in the workplace. You’re entitled to “reasonable adjustments” from your employer — that could include working flexible hours, or delegating tasks that are too difficult for you to do. An understanding boss should listen to your concerns, and offer solutions that might make it easier for you to concentrate at work.

Though it should be, this isn’t feasible for everyone — particularly those who don’t have the means to consult a lawyer or can’t afford to risk their job should their employer ignore their rights. But if you feel comfortable speaking to them, your manager could help you adjust your work life to accommodate you. It’s in their best interests, too: as the Guardian reports, a 2018 study from the London School of Economics found, “Employees who feel able to speak openly about their depression with their managers are more productive at work than those whose bosses avoid talking to them about their condition.”

2. Separate Your Professional & Personal Lives

Javier Pardina/Stocksy

There are very few among us who can honestly declare they’ve never checked their work emails from the couch. But it’s impossible to wind down properly if you never disconnect from work, which can make it even harder to concentrate when you’re actually there. “When you leave work, actually leave work,” Tom Oxley, lead consultant at Bamboo Mental Health, told the Guardian. “This means turning off your work phone. Like a laptop, we need to switch ourselves off and recharge. It’s particularly vital not to have your work phone near your bed at night, as it interrupts your sleep.”

3. Don’t Skip Your Breaks

Chelsea Victoria/Stocksy

It’s common to feel pressure to work through the breaks you’re entitled to, or choose to skip lunch because you’re worrying about finishing in time — especially if you’re struggling to concentrate in the first place. But according to Psychology Today, taking a break can actually increase your productivity, while mental health charity Mind says breaks are essential for those dealing with mental health issues. “Reclaim your lunch break,” the charity encourages, recommending you get outside, engage in a group activity (like a team sport), or even just listen to some music to take some time away from your work duties.

4. List Your Tasks For The Day

Jennifer Brister/Stocksy

Mind recommends making a list of your tasks for the day. By breaking your responsibilities down into smaller sections, the work day might feel a bit less overwhelming, while concentrating on smaller, specific tasks can be easier than attempting to focus on an entire project. What’s more, Mind suggests making a fresh list before you leave for home, allowing you to switch off once you leave the office instead of stressing about your tasks for the next day.

5. Relax On Your Commute Home

Peter Bernik/Stocksy

Mind suggests using your journey home to completely disconnect from work, and instead take some leisure time for yourself. If possible, you could cycle or walk home, or even just get off the tube a stop early to get a little fresh air. If you’re taking public transport, use the time to read a book, or listen to the podcast all your friends are currently obsessed with. “These little actions can really help you to switch off,” Mind says.

Major depression affects more than 16 million American adults each year (1). It can occur to anyone, at any age. And, importantly, depression is not a personal weakness but a severe medical illness.

Of course, we all have times when our mood is low. Gloom, heartache, melancholy, woe, desolation. These are all parts of life’s journey and fortunately most often normal temporary reactions to daily events. But, at what stage should such feelings be defined as clinical depression?


The British writer and poet, Giles Andreae who himself has battled depression once said: “Thinking you’ve had depression makes about as much sense as thinking you’ve been run over by a bus. Trust me – you know when you’ve got depression (2)”

Although this is not entirely true, it emphasizes the difference between clinical depression and occasional episodes of low mood. However, unfortunately, too many people don’t acknowledge their depression or think it isn’t serious or even believe that it is a personal weakness.

Only about a third (35.3%) of those suffering from severe depression seek treatment from a mental health professional (3). Hence, it is estimated that as many as two-thirds of people with depression do not realize that they have a treatable illness and do not seek treatment.

According to The American Psychiatric Association, “depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and home” (4).

Hence, we might conclude that depression reflects long and persistent periods of low mood without reason? But, that’s a misinterpretation. The truth is that there is a reason. That reason is the disease we call depression.

The British actor and writer Stephen Fry has talked openly about his depression. He says: “Why should I be depressed? I’ve got enough money. I’ve got a job. People like me. There is no reason to be depressed. That’s as stupid as saying there is no reason to have asthma or there is no reason to have the measles. You know you’ve got it. It’s there. It’s not about reason.”

Depression is often considered to be a mood disorder. Fry says: “To me, mood is like the weather. Weather is real. It is absolutely real: when it rains, it rains – you get wet, there is no question about it. It is also true about weather that you can’t control it; you can’t say if I wish hard enough it won’t rain. It is equally true that if the weather is bad one day, it will get better and what I had to learn was to treat my moods like the weather.”

advertisement

1. Depressive Mood

Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood is an essential feature of major depression.

However, frequently those who have suffered from depression describe their depressive mood in a more specific manner. It is not just about feeling sad all the time. It is somewhat different and usually much worse.

In fact, people with depression not always feel sad. They may be able to speak with their friends and have a laugh. On the outside, it may look like there’s nothing wrong. But inside, there is something missing. There is an emptiness, so hard to describe and so hard to understand unless you have experienced it yourself.

Let me quote Stephen Fry again: “There comes a time when the blankness of the future is just so extreme, it’s like such a black wall of nothingness. Not of bad things like a cave full of monsters and so, you’re afraid of entering it. It’s just nothingness, the void, emptiness and it is just horrible.”

Fry even goes further and says: “It’s like contemplating a future-less future and so you just want to step out of it. The monstrosity of being alive overwhelms you.”

Some patients with depression express intense sadness and emotional distress whereas others have a sense of emotional numbness (“blahs”). Hence, the magnitude and nature of the depressive mood may vary between patients.

2. Anxiety

Depression is often associated with anxiety. Both are facilitated by stress, either recent or dating back to childhood (5). Up to 70 percent of patients with depression experience anxiety (6).

Anxiety may be described as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.

Today, many experts believe that depression and anxiety are not two disorders that coexist but two faces of one disorder (7).

Often, anxiety precedes depression, sometimes by several years. Typically the onset of anxiety is in late childhood or early adolescence. Depression usually begins a few years later with typical onset in the mid-20s (8). But, of course, depression may occur at any age.

One person suffering from depression and anxiety wrote (9): I’ve always lacked self-confidence, even before my anxiety disorder was identified. I try to mingle with the best of them, but at the same time on the inside, I’m an intolerable nervous wreck and always wish I was at home watching repeats of “Friends” with a slab of fudge cake, even when I’m socializing with my nearest and dearest. Sadly, I don’t think this will ever change. So when I’m at that point where I’m trying just to leave the house, let alone do anything adventurous, my fragile mind always says “But, why? Why bother? You’re going to fail at this anyway?”

In fact, isolation may become quite severe. Simple tasks such as going to the supermarket may become a major hurdle.

3. Loss of Interest or Pleasure in Activities Once Enjoyed (Anhedonia)

The word Anhedonia describes the inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable, e.g., exercise, hobbies, and social interactions. In Greek, anhedonia directly translates to “without pleasure.”

Most patients with depression have anhedonia. It is a crucial feature of major depression. Events and activities we used to enjoy become less interesting or fun. We may even lose interest in our friends. Libido and interest in sex often decrease as well.

Some experts suggest that anhedonia comes not from a reduced capacity to experience pleasure, but instead from an inability to sustain good feelings over time. In other words, maybe pleasure is experienced fully, but only briefly, not long enough to sustain interest or involvement in life’s good things (10).

In anhedonia, the simple and satisfying sensation of joy seems to be lacking.

Following his experience with depression, Giles Andrea wrote: “And if depression has taught me one thing, it is this: what a rare and beautiful treasure is the simple human gift of joy. For me now, joy – our capacity to delight in one another and the world – is the reason why we are here. It is as simple as that. And I feel compelled to spread the word (2).”

Anhedonia may promote social withdrawal and negative feeling towards yourself and others. Emotional abilities may be reduced, and there may be a tendency to show fake emotions. We may struggle to adjust to social situations and our interest in intimacy may diminish.

Sometimes, anhedonia is divided into social anhedonia (a general disinterest in social contact), and physical anhedonia (an inability to feel pleasure from things likes eating, touching or sex)(11).

4. Fatigue or Loss of Energy

Contrary to many other medical symptoms, fatigue is an entirely normal phenomenon in particular situations. We all become tired, but it usually gets better by rest or sleep. However, chronic fatigue as a medical symptom is typically persistent and not relieved by rest (12).

Chronic fatigue is prevalent among patients with depression. It is often described as feeling tired all the time, exhausted or listless. Some people with depression experience total lack of energy sometimes called ‘anergia’.

Fatigue and depression seem to have a circular relationship. For some, fatigue will come first; for others, depression will come first, but for most, it will probably be unclear (13). The fatigue may lower self-esteem and make the depression worse, leading to more fatigue.

If the fatigue that comes with depression becomes overpowering, basic tasks such as getting out of bed and walking may be exhausting.

The symptoms of fatigue can affect physical, cognitive, and emotional function, impair school and work performance, disturb social and family relationships, and increase healthcare utilization (14).

advertisement

5. Feelings of Worthlessness or Excessive Guilt

A study of patients with major depression published 2015 showed that self-blaming emotions occurred in more than 80% of patients with self-disgust/contempt being more frequent than guilt, followed by shame (15).

The majority (85% of patients) reported feelings of inadequacy and self-blaming emotions as the most bothering symptoms compared with 10% being more distressed by negative emotions towards others.

Patients with depression often tend to misinterpret events or minor setbacks as evidence of personal failings (16).

A patient with depression has described her feelings in the following manner (17):

“I should be a spy; I am so good at leading a double life. I can put on a smile, muster up a good conversation (after ignoring a few calls and messages), but the reality is, all those “normal,” happy interactions exhaust me, and for that, I feel guilty.

I feel guilty that I want to scream at my boyfriend who is just trying to be understanding. I feel guilty that I cause those closest to me to worry. My parents, my partner, my family, and friends, all of them try to support me, to ensure I don’t get too low. How do I tell them it isn’t them and no matter what they do often I just feel low? I feel guilty that their efforts to help sometimes just make it worse.

I feel guilty for canceling plans last-minute. I mean to go, I want to go, but often I just don’t have the strength. I am brilliant at making excuses, but the shame I feel for letting people down is ever-present.

I even feel guilty for feeling guilty. Maybe some other people understand this warped way of thinking. I would tell anyone else with depression to not be so hard on themselves, to acknowledge their efforts. But to me, I just feel guilty.”

6. Sleep Disturbance (Insomnia and Hypersomnia)

Several types of sleep disorders may occur in patients with depression. The term insomnia is used often used to describe the symptoms associated with these sleep disorders.

Insomnia may be a difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep, waking up too early in the morning, or merely an unrefreshing sleep. It is not defined by the number of hours slept but reflects the satisfaction with sleep. Insomnia is often associated with tiredness, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.

Depression may be associated with difficulty getting to sleep (initial insomnia). Waking in the middle of the night (middle insomnia) or earlier than usual (terminal insomnia) with difficulty turning to sleep is common. Prolonged nighttime sleep or daytime sleeping (hypersomnia) may occur as well.

About three-quarters of depressed patients have insomnia symptoms, and hypersomnia is present in about 40% of depressed young adults and 10% of older patients, with a preponderance of females (18).

Disturbed sleep is a very distressing symptom which has a significant impact on quality of life in depressed patients (19).

Many patients with depression wake up prematurely in the early morning hours, unable to get back to sleep. This early-morning awakening is often associated with dysphoria and depressive thoughts, and sometimes there is an agitated, even a panicky feeling. This may often get better during the day and the evenings are often more comfortable.

7. Neurocognitive Dysfunction (Difficulty Concentrating, Remembering or Making Decisions)

Neurocognitive dysfunction is common in patients with depression (20).

Memory loss and an inability to focus or concentrate may be pronounced. Working memory, fluency, and planning and problem-solving abilities may be impaired.

People with depression often feel like they can’t focus. Comprehending what you are reading may become difficult and affect the ability to store information. This may negatively impact enjoyment when reading for pleasure.

The ability to receive information or directions may be impaired. We may appear easily distracted. This may affect performance at school and work. Sometimes these symptoms may be misinterpreted as lack of interest or consideration.

In most cases, neurocognitive dysfunction in depression is readily distinguished from that caused by dementia.

8. Change in Appetite and Body Weight

Reduced appetite and weight loss are common in patients with depression. However, increased appetite and weight gain may also occur.

Changes in eating habits are often related to other symptoms of depression, such as lack of energy and interest or pleasure from activities.

While a loss of appetite is common in depression, the sadness or worthlessness experienced by many patients may be associated with overeating (emotional eating). Emotional eating is eating in response to emotional rather than physical hunger.

9. Psychomotor Disturbances (Restlessness, Irritability, Retardation)

Psychomotor disturbances that are common in depression include both agitation and retardation (16).

Psychomotor agitation is a series of unintentional, nonproductive or purposeless motions. In patients with depression, this may present as hand-wringing, pacing, and fidgeting.

Psychomotor retardation is a slowing down of thought and physical movements and may include slowing of body movements, thinking, and speech.

10. Thoughts of Suicide or Death

Depressed patients often experience recurrent thoughts of death. Suicidal ideation often occurs and there is a risk of suicidal attempt in some patients with depression (21).

Sometimes, suicidal ideation is passive. Patients often consider life not worth living and that their closest family and friends would be better off if the patient were dead.

In contrast, active suicidal ideation is marked by thoughts of wanting to die or commit suicide (16). There may be suicide plans and preparatory acts (e.g., selecting time and location, choice of method, or writing a suicide note). Such behavior indicates the patient is severely ill.

Suicidal ideation is usually preceded by hopelessness and negative expectations for the future. The patient may regard suicide as the only option to escape a never-ending and intense emotional and often physical pain

Alarmingly, many patients with suicidal ideation have not been recognized as having depression. In a large Canadian study, 48% of patients who had suicidal ideation and 24% of those who had made a suicide attempt reported not receiving care or even perceiving the need for care (22). The investigators concluded that future research should be directed toward finding better ways to identify these individuals and address barriers to their care and other factors that may interfere with their receiving help.

The annual suicide rate in the United States is approximately 13 per 100,000 individuals. Suicide is the tenth leading of cause of death. In 2014, the total number of suicide deaths in the United States was 42,773 (23). This equals 117 suicide deaths every day.

It is recognized that certain occupations and professions may be more susceptible to depression and suicide. Occupations that require frequent or difficult interactions with the public or clients, and have high levels of stress and low levels of physical activity seem to be at highest risk (24).

The medical profession has the highest risk of death by suicide of any profession or occupation. Other high control and highly regulated professions such as law enforcement, military, and the legal profession may be more likely to experience depression and suicidal behavior, and less likely to seek intervention because of the associated stigma and possible licensure implications (25).

Recent research suggests that suicide is three times more likely in individuals who have experienced a concussion, so occupations that might result in head injuries may be predisposed to suicide, with or without concomitant depression (26, 27).

A few patients with depression have described their thoughts concerning suicide on the website The Mighty (27). Here are a few examples:

“It feels like you’re all alone and no matter what’s said to you, you feel like it’s not true or doesn’t matter. It feels like you just need to end it all because you’re so tired of fighting every single day.”

“I didn’t realize what I was feeling until I came out of it. It felt like I wasn’t breathing, I was drowning, and someone was holding my head under water. I was lost, alone and there was no other way out. No one understood me and no one ever would. When I finally broke free of the deep suicidal thoughts, I was able to see them for what they were, not before or during. I felt choked by the emotions and blinded by them.”

“A constant ache in my heart, my lungs, my wrists, my legs, my mind and the pit of my stomach. The ache that tells me nothing is sacred; everything is pointless. That nothing ever has or ever will matter. Why must I continue breathing? Why must I keep getting out of bed every day when I am so incredibly tired? Feeling utterly worthless, to the point that you wonder if your own children would be better off without you around.”

“The thought of death formed as a monster in my head. It is after me; I cannot run away from it. I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to live, either. The pain is too much strong, so I desperately think I cannot take another day. But deep down inside of me, I always have a tough wish to see another day — as a human instinct, I guess. I grabbed this very little feeling to go on. I hope everyone else will .”

“And if depression has taught me one thing, it is this: what a rare and beautiful treasure is the simple human gift of joy. For me now, joy – our capacity to delight in one another and the world – is the reason why we are here. It is as simple as that. And I feel compelled to spread the word.” Giles Andrea

Diagnosing Depression

Symptoms of depression may include the following:

  • Persistently sad, anxious, or empty moods
  • Loss of pleasure in usual activities (anhedonia)
  • Feelings of helplessness, guilt, or worthlessness
  • Crying, hopelessness, or persistent pessimism
  • Fatigue or decreased energy
  • Loss of memory, concentration, or decision-making capability
  • Poor abstract reasoning
  • Restlessness, irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Change in appetite or weight
  • Physical symptoms that defy diagnosis and do not respond to treatment – (very commonly pain and gastrointestinal complaints)
  • Thoughts of suicide, death, or suicide attempts
  • Poor self-image or self-esteem

To establish a diagnosis of major depression, a patient must express one of the first two items above and at least five of the other symptoms listed. Such disturbances must be present nearly daily for at least two weeks (25).

The Bottom-Line

Dear reader. If you have read this article, it may be for general information purposes or because you fear or believe that you may be suffering from symptoms associated with depression. If the latter is true, I want to remind you that depression is not a personal weakness but a serious medical disorder.

Because depression is a disease, it can not be “willed” or “wished away”. Unfortunately, that is a common misperception by the public and some medical professionals.

Patients with depression often feel terrible. The combination of physical and emotional symptoms may be overwhelming. The tiredness, darkness, and emptiness may seem unbearable. However, depression is a treatable disease. Almost all people who have suffered from depression will tell you that things will get better. And that is true.

And, remember; Never be ashamed of your depression. You wouldn’t be if you had a brain tumor, heart attack or leukemia.

Oh, and finally; Don’t try to deal with your depression by yourself. Seek professional help.

advertisement

Short-Term Memory and Concentration Problems – Anxiety Symptoms

Written by: Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated: November 13, 2019

Short-term memory and concentration problems:

  • You have difficulty concentrating or it feels like your short-term memory isn’t as good as it used to be.
  • You may also notice that normal tasks seem hard to focus on, you are more forgetful, you forget things that you normally wouldn’t, or you have difficulty forming thoughts or carrying on conversations.
  • You may also start something and uncharacteristically forget what you were doing soon after.
  • You may also have difficulty remembering where you placed things, who you just called, what you just talked about, or what you were looking for or thinking about.
  • You uncharacteristically may have difficulty remembering what you just ate, phone numbers, names, or things you recently did.
  • Things that you would normally not forget, you now do.

Short-term memory impairment and concentration problems can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you might experience a memory or concentration problem once in a while and not that often, experience it off and on, or all the time.

Short-term memory impairment and concentration problems may precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.

Short-term memory impairment and concentration problems can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur ‘out of the blue’ and for no apparent reason.

Short-term memory impairment and concentration problems can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves, where it’s strong one moment and eases off the next.

Short-term memory impairment and concentration problems can change from day to day, and/or from moment to moment.

All of the above combinations and variations are common.

What causes the short-term memory impairment and concentration problems anxiety symptom?

Anxiety causes the body to produce the stress response (also known as the fight or flight response). The stress response stresses the body, which can have an adverse effect on brain functioning. Research has found that stress can impair the short-term learning and concentration areas of the brain. This is why when stress elevates, many people experience short-term memory and concentration problems.

We explain this symptom in much more detail in the Recovery Support area of our website.

How to get rid of the short-term memory impairment and concentration problems anxiety symptoms?

Because this symptom is just a symptom of elevated stress, it needn’t be a cause for concern. It will subside when you reduce your stress and give your body ample time to calm down. As your body’s stress returns to a healthy level, symptoms of stress subside, including the short-term memory impairment and concentration problems anxiety symptoms. Therefore, this symptom needn’t be a cause for concern.

Chapter 9 in the Recovery Support area of our website is our anxiety symptoms chapter. It contains detailed information about all anxiety symptoms, including what they are, why they occur, what you can do to eliminate them, and how many people experience them (the percentage of people who experience each anxiety symptom). Our anxiety symptoms chapter includes a more detailed description and explanation about the short-term memory impairment and concentration problems anxiety symptoms.

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior – a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety’s underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources:

  • For a comprehensive list of Anxiety Disorders Symptoms Signs, Types, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment.
  • Anxiety and panic attacks symptoms can be powerful experiences. Find out what they are and how to stop them.
  • How to stop an anxiety attack and panic.
  • Free online anxiety tests to screen for anxiety. Two minute tests with instant results. Such as:
    • Anxiety Test
    • Anxiety Disorder Test
    • OCD Test
    • Social Anxiety Test
    • Generalized Anxiety Test
  • Anxiety 101 is a summarized description of anxiety, anxiety disorder, and how to overcome it.

Return to Anxiety Symptoms section.

10 Common Causes of Brain Fog and Memory Loss (and What to Do About Them)

By: Hotze Health | Comments: 26 | April 10th, 2017

Do you ever have those moments when you walk into a room and can’t remember why you’re there? Or you have trouble recalling names and just can’t seem to place where you left your car keys? While these scenarios often have us feeling like we’re senile, often it’s just a case of brain fog, and you don’t have to just live with it.

What is Brain Fog?
If you haven’t yet experienced the sensation of “brain fog,” then consider yourself one of the lucky ones. The majority of adults have experienced this at one time or another, if not chronically, throughout their lives. Brain fog is the inability to focus and think clearly. You literally feel like you’re in a mental fog.

Brain Fog Symptoms
Do you experience any of the following symptoms?

• Difficulty concentrating at work or performing basic tasks
• Trouble remembering people’s names or simple words
• Feeling like you’ve lost parts of your memory
• Wondering if you might have the onset of Alzheimer’s
• Feeling like you’re in a fog and state of confusion
• Decreased mental sharpness
• Unable to focus
• Short term memory loss
• Feeling depressed
• Feeling like you are losing your mind

Never fear – when you can pinpoint the underlying cause of your brain fog and memory loss, there is something you can do about it.

10 Common Causes of Brain Fog and Memory Loss

1. Hormone Deficiencies
Thyroid Hormone
Because the brain uses so much energy, individuals with hypothyroidism (slowed metabolism and less energy) tend to experience a decline in their mental sharpness – the brain fog that so many patients describe. It becomes difficult to maintain focus, sharp memory and clarity. Low thyroid function is a common cause of brain fog, depression (1), difficulty concentrating and short term memory loss.

Hypothyroidism is often associated with mood disturbances and cognitive impairment, implying that thyroid hormones are critical for normal brain functioning. In particular, hypothyroidism has been associated with several cognitive deficits, including general intelligence, psychomotor speed, visual-spatial skills and memory.(2)

Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone
These hormones act directly on nerve cells in the brain, protecting those cells from attack by neurotoxins and free radicals. They also enhance the blood flow of the brain, thus protecting against memory loss, cognition and progression of dementia. Progesterone also has a protective effect on the brain by reducing swelling and improving mental clarity after a traumatic brain injury.

Estrogen replacement therapy is associated with improved nonverbal memory and attention. (3) Estrogen and progesterone have a strong effect on memory and improve memory retention. (4) The addition of testosterone to estrogen replacement exerts a protective effect on memory performance in postmenopausal women. (5) Testosterone levels moderate cognitive functioning performance in males. (6)

2. Lack of Sleep/Poor Sleep
Lack of sleep and poor quality sleep leaves you tired, and therefore your brain is also tired. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Easier said than done? for some tips to help you sleep better.

3. Candida
Your gut health affects your brain health. Candida, or yeast overgrowth, can cause inability to concentrate, brain fog, headaches, depression, and anxiety. If you have a leaky gut, then the 180 toxins produced by Candida can travel to the rest of your body through your bloodstream, affecting your different tissues and organs, including your brain.

4. Poor Diet
It is important to clean up your diet and eat organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meats, and nuts. Vegetables, for instance, are full of antioxidants and vitamins that fight oxidative stress and help prevent brain damage. Be sure to eat enough protein and healthy fats. Eating processed and packaged, sugar-laden foods only contributes to inflammation, not to mention the fact that your body, and brain, aren’t getting the nutrients they need to function well.

5. Allergies and Food Sensitivities
Inflammation and swelling caused by allergies and food sensitivities can affect the brain, causing symptoms throughout the body, including headaches, migraines, depression, anxiety and memory problems.

6. Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
Besides eating a healthy diet, here are a few important vitamins that are important for brain and memory support:

Fish Oil – Fish oil supports the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response. Omega-3’s help improve brain function and help prevent memory loss.
Ginkgo Biloba – Ginkgo Biloba has been clinically proven to provide extraordinarily high antioxidant activity that helps protect the brain and improve memory.
GABA – GABA helps regulate brain and nerve cell activity and helps you to focus.
B Vitamins – A good B vitamin complex promotes nerve health and optimal brain function.

7. Prescription Drugs
There are numerous prescription drugs that negatively affect your brain function, here are a few:

Cholesterol lowering drugs
Anti-anxiety medications
Sleep medications
Antihistamines
Antidepressants
Beta-blockers
Narcotic painkillers
Cold medicines
Some pain medications
Muscle relaxants

8. Smoking
Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen to the brain, which can impair your memory. It is also noted that smoking can shrink a critical part of your brain – your cortex. Your cortex is the outer layer of your brain, and it naturally thins as you age, but smoking accelerates this.

9. Physical Inactivity
Regular physical exercise helps keep your brain sharp and protects your memory. Exercise also improves mood, sleep, and reduces stress, which can help improve brain function, as well.

10. Artificial Sweeteners
Think twice before reaching for the yellow or blue sweetener packets at the dinner table. Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose (Splenda) and Aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal) can have devastating effects on your brain, as well as your overall health.

Splenda can cause a spaced-out sensation, brain fog, depression, migraines, headaches, seizures, dizziness and anxiety. Aspartame is a neurotoxin that destroys brain cells. Forty percent of aspartame broken down in the digestive tract is aspartic acid, a known “excitotoxin” that excites brain cells literally to death. It causes problems such as epileptic seizures, headaches, migraines, dizziness, unsteadiness, confusion, memory loss, severe drowsiness and sleepiness, severe slurring of speech, severe hyperactivity and severe tremors.

One Really Important Reason to do the Candida Diet – Your Brain
How to Tap Into What Your Brain Can Do For You
Memory Loss Caused by Hypothyroidism, Not Alzheimer’s

Research
1.
2. Verbal Memory Retrieval Deficits Associated With Untreated Hypothyroidism
3. Long-Term Estrogen Replacement is Associated with Improved Nonverbal Memory and Attentional Measures in Postmenopausal Women
4. Memory Retention is Modulated by Acute Estradiol and Progesterone Replacement
5. Evaluation of High-Dose Estrogen and High-Dose Estrogen plus Methyltestosterone Treatment on Cognitive Task Performance in Postmenopausal Women
6. Free Testosterone Levels, Attentional Control, and Processing Speed Performance in Aging Men

Depression and/or anxiety can severely impact our capacity to focus on the important things in our life, including our course. It is very easy to quickly fall behind with our studies, creating more problems for us to deal with.

You’re Not On Your Own – Emily Clarkson

Emily Clarkson set up her blog, Pretty Normal Me, as a way of saying to other young women like her and her sister that ‘you’re ok’. Whoever you are, whatever you look like — despite the pressure that she has noticed in other media. Emily has been diagnosed with anxiety and found herself prey to worrying thoughts. It took her a while to accept and understand that diagnosis. She says she’s now stronger and braver than she’s ever been thanks to her acceptance of herself. For more real-life stories from those with mental health issues, or for ideas on how to improve your wellbeing.

Student life tends to be hectic, with lots going on. If you are living in shared accommodation, it can be noisy, and difficult to avoid distraction from others. Likewise, if you are living on your own, feeling isolated or detached from others can also be problematic.

Problems with concentration will affect most students at one time or another, but depressed or anxious thinking habits set up a kind of internal ‘noise’ that can cause these problems to become intense or chronic. Take a look at the pages in the Making Changes and Self-Support section for more information.

Study

Very few students sail through their degrees without a few study problems. Addressing issues sooner rather than later is vital in order to prevent study problems from getting you down. If we are experiencing depression or anxiety, it can feel so much harder, with everyday tasks presenting real challenges. If it feels too much to get out of bed or have a shower, focusing on academic work can sometimes feel impossible.

There are things we can do to help support ourselves at this time.

Problems With The Course

One of the commonest problems for students when they first start on a course is realising that it isn’t what they expected, or not suited to them in some way. Also, as people progress through their course, they may find it does not develop in the way they had hoped, or lose interest in their subject as time goes on. Depression and anxiety can also significantly, and falsely, contribute to people not enjoying or engaging with their studies.

Universities and colleges have an interest in students being on the right course for them, and will usually offer support in addressing problems of this nature. It is always important to speak with a Personal Tutor, or another member of staff in your department. We can often feel anxious about doing this, but people will usually find that approaching someone can be an important first step in dealing with problems.

Leaving Things to The Last Minute…

Procrastination is another very common student issue, which can be closely linked with any or all of the other issues discussed on this page. It is also a very common part of the depression habit spiral – the more things get put off, the more overwhelming they seem. Procrastination is particularly linked to the depressed thinking habits of perfectionism, self-bullying and all-or-nothing thinking.

There are a number of things we can do to support ourselves in getting things done. Have a look at the Making Changes information on this site for some ideas.

Time Management

Having to juggle a number of different demands can be extremely difficult; these might include study, work, family or other commitments, for example. Some university or college courses are quite structured, but many only specify a few lecture or seminar commitments a week, while expecting students to organise much of their own study independently. Making the mistake of seeing non-lecture time as ‘free’ time can leave students feeling lost and aimless, making space for depression to flourish. Alternatively, rushing around from one thing to the next without proper rest can suddenly lead to a depressed ‘burnout’.

There are a number of things we can do to support ourselves in managing the demands and expectations we encounter. Have a look at the Making Changes information on this site for some ideas.

Performance and Exam Anxiety

A little adrenaline helps performance, but over-worrying is a very good way to reduce efficiency and effectiveness, as well as exhausting ourselves. Depressed thinking habits and raised stress levels can get in the way of you doing your best in your studies. Getting your time management and concentration sorted is a good starting point. Use the study skills support and resources offered by your academic or student services department.

Planning and Practical Action

The most important first step for managing depression and anxiety is to focus on what you can practically do to support yourself. Basic planning and time management can help us feel more in control of things. There is a wealth of detailed advice provided by universities, colleges, and student organisations, for planning your student life effectively. Try these tips as a starting point:

  • Get a good quality planner or diary with enough space to record all your commitments, or download from an app store a good quality ‘To-Do’ app and planner to use on your phone. These will often sync across to tablet and desktop computers too, meaning you have up-to-date information available across a number of sites.
  • Use the planner to record all of your study commitments and deadlines, as well as other appointments or social events.
  • Take some time to plan out your week effectively, so that you assign realistic and achievable blocks of time to study, leisure, work, and exercise. This is especially important if your course involves a lot of independent study and fewer organised contact hours. Remember that studying is not the only thing you need to be making time for!
  • Plan your time for assignments, so you are realistic about what might be involved. Again, talking to a tutor about this might help. Starting is the hardest part, so plan to just make a very small step as your starting point (getting a book out of the library, for example).
  • Or if the writing part is what you find hard to start, then jot down some random thoughts and sentences straight away without thinking too hard about it – once you have something down on the page, it is easier to shape a plan for going forward from there.
  • Most universities will offer study skills courses or web resources. It is also worth talking to someone in your department, as departmental-specific resources may be available. These can be helpful, particularly when depression and/or anxiety are sapping your resources. Sometimes putting basic strategies in place can help considerably.

Tell Your Course Tutor About Your Difficulties

It is very important to tell your tutors about any struggles you are facing with your mental health, including depression and anxiety. Universities and colleges have a responsibility under law to ensure that students are appropriately supported and that, wherever possible, ‘reasonable adjustments’ can be made. Different institutions will do things slightly differently, but talk to your tutor and go to the Student Services centre (or equivalent in your institution) and explain the difficulties you are experiencing. They will treat your information confidentially and will talk to you about how you might be supported on your course. Support can include study skills, additional time in examinations or other deadlines, or more face-to-face support, for example.

What you will be offered will depend on your circumstances and what the institution has available. However, the important message here is to tell someone about what is happening.

Depression brings a whole heap of horrid symptoms to our door. We have no energy, problems sleeping, struggle to make decisions and lose interest in things which once brought us joy – to name just a few.

Depression can also really limit our concentration and memory. It can be frustrating and disorientating (and sometimes a bit embarrassing too) – we walk into a room and can’t remember why, we leave our keys in the door, we feel like we never get anything done because we can’t remember what it is we were supposed to do. It can feel like we’re wading through treacle, our brains just don’t work as quickly and efficiently as they once did. And boy, do we notice it.

It’s difficult to cope with this fuzzy brain feeling, as we all have tasks, responsibilities and relationships that need our input – even when we’re unwell. However, we have found a few tactics that can help boost memory and concentration.

Start small

When depression strikes, small things become big things. We’re not on a level playing field, we’re limited, and we need to account for that. For example, it can take an inordinate amount of energy, headspace and motivation just to get out of bed – something that’s truly taken for granted when we’re well. Be proud of all your achievements, no matter how small they may seem because the teeny steps always compound into something bigger anyway.

List it

Writing ‘to do’ lists for the various tasks we need to complete can stop them from buzzing around our brains and decrease the anxiety we feel about forgetting something. They can be short-term or longer-term lists and can be used for pretty much anything. The lists don’t have to be anything fancy; they can be scribbled on post–its, stuck on the fridge, or jotted in the back of your diary. It might help too, to keep a notebook next to the bed to write down anything that’s keeping you awake at night.

Break it down

Big tasks can feel scary and overwhelming. Looking at them, they seem completely unmanageable, so we don’t attempt them at all. This gives those pesky thoughts – the ones which tell us that we’re hopeless and helpless – wings. Breaking big tasks down into much smaller chunks can make them feel more approachable. Rewarding ourselves for finishing a task can make it feel more fun and help to boost our confidence.

Set reminders

Setting reminders for things we need to do, or places we need to go to, gives us one less thing to remember. You could set them on your phone – either as a list, or as an alarm to go off at a certain time, you could pop them in your diary – assigning different tasks to different days, or you can even put a list of everything you need to remember when leaving the house on the back of your front door. Setting reminders like this can help free up much-needed headspace.

Screenshot it

Sometimes we might see an article, or some information or an advert for something we need to buy whilst mindlessly scrolling through our newsfeed. If we see it at a time we are unable to act, we are burdened with the need to remember it. Taking a screenshot is a simple way to take off that pressure, saving a reminder in our files for us to follow up on later.

Difficulty Concentrating

What is difficulty concentrating?

Are you easily distracted or perhaps make mistakes even when you try to do your best? Do you sometimes forget to bring the one thing you’ll need most for a task or activity? Is it hard to sit still and listen to someone talk? If this sounds like you, you might be having difficulty concentrating.

Trouble focusing and a worsening attention span are signs of poor concentration. Trouble concentrating can result in problems with keeping a job, learning new skills or information, and with relationships with other people.

“A lot of times I have every intention of giving someone my full attention, but before you know it, my brain checks out and I literally don’t hear the words that are being spoken to me.”

Trouble concentrating can occur for many reasons, including an injury, such as a traumatic brain injury, dealing with chronic pain, or severe headaches. Some Veterans may have difficulty concentrating due to anxiety or stress, depression, or painful memories from military service. You may find other people don’t understand your difficulties with concentrating. They may assume you are not trying very hard or you don’t care. This lack of understanding might make you feel frustrated, angry, or depressed.

Customize More:

Show me videos of Veterans who served during:

If I’m having trouble concentrating, what can I do about it right away?

  • Avoid distractions like loud music or the television when you want to concentrate.
  • If you’re in a meeting or a classroom, sit close to the front; and try to remove distractions, such as your cell phone, from your seating area.
  • Use a planner and make checklists to help you stay organized.
  • Develop a routine and try to stick to a regular schedule.
  • Divide your tasks into smaller steps.
  • Take regular breaks to prevent feeling tired.
  • Avoid overstimulating your brain with large amounts of caffeine or energy drinks.
  • Minimize the need to multitask by focusing on one thing at a time.

If you have trouble concentrating, talking to your family and friends can be an important step to reduce frustration and misunderstanding. If you share what you’re experiencing with your family and friends, they can avoid distracting — and that may help you focus on the task at hand.

Take the next step to connect with care.

Every day, Veterans from all military service branches and eras connect with proven resources and effective treatments to improve their concentration. Here’s how to take the next step: the one that’s right for you.

New to VA? Apply for health care benefits.

  • Getting started is simple. Create a free account online to help ease your enrollment process. To prepare to apply for VA health care in person, by telephone, or by mail, explore VA’s “How to Apply” page.
  • Not sure whether you are eligible for VA health care benefits? Read about eligibility for VA health care.
  • Unsure of what kind of help you need? Call 1-877-222-VETS (1-877-222-8387) to find the right resources to meet your needs, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. If you have hearing loss, call TTY: 1-800-877-8339.
  • Veterans’ family members and caregivers can see whether they qualify for VA medical benefits as a spouse, surviving spouse, dependent child, or caregiver. Explore family and caregiver health benefits.

Already enrolled in VA and interested in mental health support? Schedule a mental health appointment.

  • If you’re already enrolled and using VA health care, the fastest way to schedule VA appointments is to call the VA facility where you want to receive care.
  • With VA Appointments tools, you can schedule some VA health care appointments online, view details about upcoming appointments, and organize your health care calendar.
  • If you’re not using VA medical services, contact your nearest VA medical center or Vet Center to talk about your needs.

What about other options at VA? VA offers a variety of tools and resources.

  • The Veteran Training online self-help portal for overcoming everyday challenges includes modules on managing anger, developing parenting and problem-solving skills, and more.
  • Mental health apps for Veterans cover a variety of topics, ranging from PTSD to anger management to quitting smoking.
  • VA TeleMental Health connects you with a VA mental health provider through a computer or mobile device in your home or at your nearest VA health facility. You can learn more about this option from your local VA medical center.
  • Vet Centers provide support, counseling, and readjustment services for Veterans and active duty service members (including members of the National Guard and Reserve) who have served on active military duty in any combat theater or area of hostility or have experienced a military sexual trauma. Find a Vet Center near you or call 1-877-WAR-VETS (1-877-927-8387) to talk with a fellow combat Veteran about your experiences, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

What about support beyond VA?

There’s a whole community of support ready to help with whatever you’re going through. Use this tool to find resources near you.

Explore these resources for more information about Veterans dealing with concentration difficulties.

Learn more about what you can do if you are experiencing specific concerns related to difficulty concentrating, such as stress and anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress, and effects of traumatic brain injury.

Concentration Problems: Symptoms, Causes, and Tips

Problems concentrating isn’t only something that happens to kids- many adults find themselves struggling to concentrate, and we’ve probably all had moments where, no matter what we do, we find a lack of concentration. In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about concentration problems: What they are, symptoms of poor concentration, and possible causes. Should you be worried? We’ll give you 11 tips that can help you solve your concentration problem.

Concentration problems

Lack of concentration and concentration problems are a common problem that can show itself at any age. For example, children will likely show symptoms when they perform poorly in school, and adults may have extra challenges in their work and family life. Concentration problems can be disruptive to your daily life, affecting work, school, and social areas, which is why learning how to improve concentration when they’re lacking is an important and necessary skill.

What are concentration problems?

Concentration is the ability to efficiently focus your attention on the tasks at hand. With adequate concentration skills, you’ll be able to block out distractions and inhibit actions that could cause you to lose focus, like irrelevant thoughts or sounds.

When you’re concentration is at its highest, you’ll notice that you can work easier, faster, and better. Think about the last time you breezed through a report- you were probably focused and alert, helping you achieve your optimal working state.

Concentration problems become an issue when the inability to concentrate and focus on a stimulus impede your ability to get something done. You might find that background noise, your phone, or your own thoughts get in the way of working.

Concentration levels vary depending on the following factors:

  • Dedication to the task
  • Interest in the task
  • Your ability to complete the task
  • Physical and emotional state
  • A conducive environment with few distractions

Once you’re able to regulate these factors and get in the right mindset, you’ll see that you’re able to focus better and block out irrelevant thoughts.

General Cognitive Assessment Battery from CogniFit: Study brain function and complete a comprehensive online screening. Precisely evaluate a wide range of abilities and detect cognitive well-being (high-moderate-low). Identify strengths and weaknesses in the areas of memory, concentration/attention, executive functions, planning, and coordination.

Symptoms of concentration problems

Concentration problems in children

Children don’t have the same ability to concentrate as adults generally do because their brain isn’t fully developed yet. They aren’t usually able to stay focused during an entire one-hour class period, but this doesn’t mean that they have any type of concentration problem. Children have to learn and discover by doing and playing, not sitting and being talked at.

If a child has trouble paying attention in class and shows no other problems in other areas, the problem is not with the child, but rather with the teaching style.

A child might have concentration problems if:

  • They have trouble paying attention in class
  • They’re not able to focus on their homework
  • It seems like the “zone out” when you talk to them
  • They can’t concentrate on a TV show or movie
  • They have a hard time focusing on a fun or interesting activity
  • They’re distracted
  • It seems like they’re constantly daydreaming
  • They are unorganized in their play.

A child with all of these symptoms likely has a serious attention or concentration problem and might have ADHD. You can take an ADHD test to see if they have ADHD.

Innovative online ADD and ADHD test makes it possible to take a complete cognitive screening and evaluate the risk index for the presence of ADD or ADHD and its subtype with excellent reliability.

Concentration Problems in Adults

An adult might have a concentration problem if they are:

  • Forgetful
  • Not able to do a single task for a prolonged period of time
  • Have a hard time reading
  • Feel like there is blocked or full
  • Distracted when someone talks to them
  • Easily distracted
  • Take a long time to finish tasks

Causes of Concentration Problems

Knowing what causes a lack of concentration is important in order to be able to treat and fix the primary cause.

  • Fatigue and emotional stress can cause concentration problems.
  • Hormonal changes like what you might experience during menopause or pregnancy can affect cognitive function.
  • Certain psychological and physical conditions are characterized by a difficulty concentrating, like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
  • Poor sleep and rest. When we don’t give our brains the rest it needs, whether it be due to little time or too much stress, the brain suffers. One of the most common symptoms of exhaustion is lack of concentration.
  • Hunger and poor diet can also make it hard to concentrate. Feeling hungry is uncomfortable, and is the body’s way of saying that we need nutrients and energy. This sensation takes over almost all of our cognitive resources, making it very difficult to concentrate. Lack of nutrients can also affect how the brain works.
  • Worry. When you spend too much time worrying about something, you will have a harder time thinking about something that isn’t your main preoccupation.
  • Physical pain. You may see that you have a harder time concentrating if your in pain, either due to an injury or chronic pain.
  • Medication and drugs. Some medications may cause a lack of concentration, and drugs deteriorate our cognitive function and the brain.
  • Environment. The people and places that surround you can play a role in how well you’re able to concentrate. If there are a lot of distractions, you’re more likely to get distracted and lose concentration.
  • Your personal ability to concentrate. There are some people who are able to concentrate better than others, and some people who have a harder time concentrating. If your one of the latter, don’t worry! There are ways to improve your concentration.

How to Improve Concentration Problems?

1. You don’t need nutritional substances to solve concentration problems

Some supplements claim to help improve concentration problems, but they’re usually ineffective (and expensive!). They usually say that it contains some kind of nutrient or supplement that you can easily find in other foods, which is why you don’t need any “magical” supplement that claims to help improve concentration, attention, or memory. The only supplements that you should take are medications that your doctor has prescribed in serious cases.

2. Use Online Brain Training to improve concentration problems

There are different online brain training programs. CogniFit, a leader in brain games and cognitive assessments for children and adults

Concentration is a cognitive process that can be improved if properly trained. CogniFit’s clinically validated program is a professional tool that can be used by doctors and individuals alike. It allows you to assess and train the brain functions that play a role in concentration online, with fun and interactive games and activities.

Studying neuroplasticity has shown that the more we use a specific neural circuit, the stronger it gets, which is why we know that training the parts of the brain used in concentration can actually improve the skill. Divided attention, cognitive flexibility, and inhibition are all skills that CogniFit trains to help improve concentration.

The cognitive brain training program is designed to be a fun and interactive online program that was created by psychologists and neuroscientists, so you can be sure that you’re using a real platform that has been proven to help. After each session, you’ll see how you’re improving and which areas you need to work on, and the program will automatically adjust to training those specific skills.

CogniFit Brain Training: Trains and strengthens essential cognitive abilities in an optimal and professional way.

3. Plan breaks during the day to reduce concentration problems

Concentration is often linked to tiredness, boredom, and overusing mental resources. If you’re doing a task that requires a lot of concentration, like working or studying, your concentration may be affected. It’s important to take breaks every once in a while (10 minutes per hour) and then get back to work. Use the time to get up and walk around, stretch, go to the bathroom, or get some coffee (or tea, or water, etc.).

4. Get in touch with nature to improve concentration problems

If you’re in a busy area (like a city), your brain has to work more because it’s always paying attention to people around you, buses, cars, etc. On the contrary, walking in a wooded area or place with trees and grass can noticeably improve concentration levels. In nature, there are fewer distractions and stimuli that require the brain’s attention, which allows you to disconnect and calm down.

Concentration problems

5. Mindfulness helps improve concentration problems

Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can help improve attention, as well as reduce stress levels, anxiety, and depression. Mindfulness can change your brain because it helps keep your thoughts focused on one single idea, which is why it is great for improving concentration. Try just 5-10 minutes a day of mindfulness a day and you’ll see the benefits. There are also mindfulness programs for children which have shown their efficacy.

6. Get rid of distractions to solve concentration problems

If you’re the kind of person who gets easily distracted, it’s important that you reduce distractions as much as possible when you sit down to do work that requires your concentration. Put your phone away and have only one window open on your computer. If you get distracted by external noise, put on some quiet music or find some ear plugs.

7. Prioritize

Leave more difficult tasks for when you’re feeling awake and refreshed. You’ll probably be able to get it done quicker and easier, and you won’t be left feeling as drained. Make a list of the tasks that you have to do, and put them in order from hardest to easiest. You can always change the order, and if the difficult tasks are tiring you, you can always take a break or do one of your easier tasks.

8. Leave some time to answer calls and write e-mails

It’s easy to feel like a slave to your phone- answering calls, checking messages, getting notes about a report, and because the technology is available, we feel like we have to be connected 24/7. But this readily available constant contact is actually terrible for productivity, which is why we recommend that you plan a certain time every x minutes to respond to those e-mails in your inbox.

9. Take care of yourself

One of the best investments that you can make for your cognitive performance is keeping your body healthy. Eat well and get enough rest (at least 7 or 8 hours a night). Give yourself time to relax and enjoy the activities that you like doing. Relaxing and being healthy mentally will help improve concentration.

10. One thing at a time

Multitasking isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can raise stress levels and distract you. Stick to one task at a time if you feel your concentration lacking.

11. Play games to help improve concentration

There are a number of game that can help you improve concentration and reduce concentration problems. See CogniFit’s brain games.

Questions? Leave a comment below 🙂

This post was originally written in Spanish and translated by Molly Minchew

Psicóloga General Sanitaria y sexóloga. Deseosa de mejorar la calidad de vida de las personas mediante la práctica clínica y la comunicación a través de la red.

Why Use Molecular Hydrogen Tablets and Inhalation Machines?

It’s OK to daydream from time to time, but if you spend a good portion of your morning zoning out, then we’ve got a problem. Here are 5 of the most common reasons why we space out and 3 ways we can reclaim our focus!

Have you ever found yourself reading a paragraph in a novel, only to realize that you processed none of it and will need to read it again?

How about catching yourself starting to zone out during a conversation with a colleague or friend?

Or ever find yourself unable to focus on reading the news and prefer to just skim the headlines and close the tab?

The odds are high that you can relate to one of those above scenarios.

Image source: tenor.com

These types of situations can be normal and they do happen to everyone once in a while.

However:

If you can’t concentrate on anything for a period of time and become distracted to the extent that you cannot finish an article, or forget about an important work meeting, then it’s time to be concerned and take action to improve your focus.

When Paying Attention Becomes Hard…

Image source: whatsyourgrief.com

Okay, so WHY is it that I can’t concentrate on anything?

Glad you asked. It’s prudent to first identify the root of the problem before attempting to fix the problem itself.

The inability to focus can be attributed to numerous reasons, but here I have narrowed it down to the following five reasons that may cause lack of focus in people.

Other than a diagnosis of the widely known ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) and lesser known sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT) or concentration deficit disorder (CDD), there are other conditions and circumstances that can shorten one’s attention span and negatively impact one’s ability to pay attention.

Suspect #1: Anxiety

Image source: foxonanisland.com

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) actually lists difficulty concentrating as one of the diagnostic criteria for the emotional disorder, and it has been proposed that there is a strong connection between worrying and cognitive impairment. It is also a very frequent complaint among individuals living with GAD, and greater levels of worry or anxiety potentially worsen the clinical severity of impaired concentration.

Suspect #2: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Another mental condition that can lead to concentration deficit is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), where survivors of a traumatic event may experience prolonged states of emotional numbness, social detachment, apathy, insomnia and irritability. When these patients have nightmares or sleep disturbances during the night, it then translates to fatigue and reduced concentration during the day.

Suspect #3: Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder (MDD), or depression is a widely prevalent condition that not only negatively affects a person’s mood and quality of life but is also strongly associated with cognitive impairment. Research has shown that there is direct correlation between the severity of depression and the level of cognitive deficits.

Symptoms such as diminished concentration and attention, memory deficits and inattentiveness may be present in depressed individuals, which then results in significantly lowered work productivity.

Suspect #4: Lack of Sleep or Insomnia

Image source: culturedvultures.com

Insomnia is a common condition that many people experience on a regular basis. However, to put things into perspective, an official diagnosis of insomnia requires dissatisfaction of sleep quality or sleep duration alongside night and day symptoms that are present of 3 or more nights per week while lasting for more than 3 months. The daytime insomnia symptoms include fatigue, low energy, mood disturbances, and impaired attention or concentration. A specific clinical study demonstrated that those with insomnia do perform worse on attention-related tasks compared to those who do not suffer from insomnia. Hence, when sleep-related problems arise, consequently focus and attention is also significantly reduced.

Suspect #5: Aging

Last but not least, aging is a contributing factor in the decline of selective focus and concentration.

Situated in the brainstem, there is a small nucleus called the locus coeruleus (LC), which releases noradrenaline during an arousal response to external stimuli. In younger adults, this response amplifies the focus to the most salient or relevant information to achieving the task on hand while suppressing other non-relevant information.

In contrast, in older adults, there is a decline in the locus coeruleus’ functional connections with the frontoparietal networks that is responsible for the coordination of attention selectivity. Hence, their arousal responses increase processing of all stimuli and information, regardless of its relevance or importance to the intended goal.

As one’s age increases, the capacity for selective focus and attention markedly diminishes.

How to Reclaim Your Focus?

Now, after presenting the most likely suspects that can lead to decreased focus and concentration, it is time to take the necessary steps to correct the issue.

However, before trying out focus techniques listed below or anywhere else, make sure you check with a physician to determine if there are underlying medical conditions, and whether any medications or non-pharmacological therapies are available to help treat the problem.

Follow a healthcare provider’s advice first and then feel free to incorporate one or more of the following methods into your routine and see if it offers any improvement!

Tip #1: Pomodoro Technique

Chances are you have heard of the Pomodoro Technique by now, as it has become quite popular in the last decade and been widely touted as a “productivity hack” in various news sources and social media feeds.

Developed by Italian graduate student Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique is simple and straightforward yet surprisingly effective. The concept consists of allocating specifically timed work sessions to a single task and focusing on completing one task at a time before moving on to the next task.

Image source: imgur.com

Although a typical Pomodoro session usually lasts 25 minutes, with 5-minute breaks between sessions, you are totally free to customize the length of both your work sessions and break intervals to fulfill your own needs and preferences. You can also use a variety of tools to time yourself, such as desktop apps, mobile apps, or even just a kitchen timer. This technique works for numerous people, as it eliminates multitasking, reduces procrastination, and reinforces memory. As well, since you cannot work on any other task, it compels you to complete the assigned task in order to move on to the next item on your calendar or to-do list.

Tip#2: Meditation & Mindfulness

Next up is a particular technique that not only extends one’s attention span, but also provides great benefit for those who can’t concentrate or focus on reading due to mind-wandering and distracting or anxious thoughts.

Image source: advice.shinetext.com

Meditation allows one to practice regulating their mental awareness, focusing on the present, and maintaining their attention on the current task at hand. For example, in two studies where study participants underwent intensive meditation training and reading tasks, they significantly had less mind-wandering and lower incidences of mindless reading.

Hence, if you have trouble sustaining your attention on certain cognitive tasks, then meditation would definitely be worth trying.

I’d suggest starting your meditation journey with mobile apps that include guided meditations, as most of them are both convenient and user-friendly.

Tip #3: Eat & Drink Right

The diet and memory connection is real, which is why Harvard Health recommends steering clear of trans fats and saturated fats.

Instead, go hard on mono- and polyunsaturated fats and other brain-healthy goodies!

Among foods that promote brain health are whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil… and if you think I am just giving you a refresher on a Mediterranean diet right now, I’m actually talking about something even better: the MIND diet.

Image source: wifflegif.com

What about the drinks? Well, coffee and green tea have both been found to boosts brain function and improve memory, and hydrogen-rich water, due to its neuron protective effects and antioxidant properties, may lessen the age-related changes in cognitive functions such as cognitive decline and reduced focus.

The Sky is the Limit…

Though we have only listed 3 ways to improve your concentration in this article, know that the possibilities are endless it comes to making positive changes to your life.

With productivity being a hugely popular topic these days, there are countless techniques and apps to increase focus and optimize efficiency. Take the time to try out different approaches, adapt existing methods to suit your lifestyle, and honestly assess the end results.

Some techniques will work better than others, and it is important to decide what is best for you.

Also, remember to be patient with yourself, as building new habits take time and effort!

Read Also:

7 Tips To Lower Your Risk of Dementia & Alzheimer’s

Brain Focus and Concentration Problems

WHAT IS CONCENTRATION AND WHY IS IT EASY TO BECOME DISTRACTED?

Concentration is the ability to efficiently focus attention on the tasks at hand. With adequate concentration skills, an individual should be able to block out distractions and inhibit actions that could cause loss of brain focus and concentration.

When the concentration is at its highest, work is easier, faster, and better.

Problems concentrating become an issue when the inability to concentrate and focus on a stimulus impede the ability to get something done. A background noise, cell phone, or internal thought processes get in the way of work.

WHAT HELPS THE BRAIN FOCUS?

Concentration levels vary depending on the following factors:(21)

  • Dedication to the task
  • Interest in the task
  • The ability to complete the task
  • Physical and emotional state
  • A conducive environment with few distractions

Learn More about How to Improve Cognitive Function

TYPES OF ATTENTION

When the brain is focusing on a task, at least three different types of brain attention are producing the ability to focus and concentrate:

  1. Selective attention

    allows the brain to focus on one thing while disregarding its surroundings.

  2. Divided attention

    is the process that allows the brain to manage and process multiple sources of information at the same time. An example of this would be the multifocal task of driving.

  3. Sustained attention

    allows the brain to stay focused on one thing for a long time. This process is not affected by the aging process. Sustained attention allows the brain to sort out and reroute information amid distraction. This process is supported by two functions, sensitivity enhancement, and efficient selection. Sensitivity enhancement turns up or tunes into sensory information to help the brain process input more efficiently. Efficient selection directs the brain to focus capability by filtering important information and moves it up the thinking process for deeper concentration while it suppresses interruptions. (20)

WHAT CAUSES CONCENTRATION PROBLEMS IN ADULTS

  • Fatigue and emotional stress (21)
  • Hormonal changes during menopause or pregnancy
  • Certain psychological and physical conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Poor sleep and rest
  • Hunger and poor diet
  • Stress
  • Physical pain
  • Medication and drugs
  • Distracting environment

SYMPTOMS OF CONCENTRATION PROBLEMS IN ADULTS

  • Forgetfulness
  • Inability to complete a single task for a prolonged period of time
  • Difficulty reading and recalling material
  • Poor time management
  • Easily distracted
  • Inability to focus on a conversation
  • Taking too long to complete a task

BRAIN FOCUS & CONCENTRATION FACTS & STATISTICS

To lose focus is part of the internal human survival system. It is meant to keep humans safe. When the brain notices something that needs its attention, the internal human survival system kicks in and requires the brain to break concentration when the disruption may be dangerous or rewarding.

Once focus is broken it can take up to 25 minutes to return to its original task. (3) Studies suggest that it takes 5 to 15 minutes to refocus. The average office worker is interrupted anywhere between every 3-10 minutes. Some of these interrupts come in the form of colleagues, phone calls, and emails, etc. The most frequent interruptions are internal, about 44% of the time according to research. (3)

The human brain is able to focus up to two hours, after which it needs a 20-30 minute break. The average American spends about 9 hours a day at work. According to the NeuroLeadership Institute, work focus equals about 6 hours a week. One reason Americans lose focus is the American workday hours do not correspond with the brain’s best focus periods. Studies reveal that 90% of people do their best thinking outside of the office early in the morning or late at night (2).

MEDICAL TREATMENT OF CONCENTRATION PROBLEMS

As pressure mounts, college students, entrepreneurs, and people in highly competitive jobs are turning more and more to smart drugs like piracetam, modafinil, and off-label use ADHD medications to help. But this is unfortunate because they come with a high price tag (literally), including multiple side effects with the high possibility of addiction. (23)

10 NATURAL WAYS TO IMPROVE BRAIN FOCUS & CONCENTRATION

Practices to Support Focus and Concentration:

  • Block Outside Stimuli: wearing headphones, turning off desktop notifications, implementing a quiet period of focused work in your office
  • The Pomodoro Technique is a brain training technique in which you focus on a task for 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break and start again for another 25 minutes. This is done for 4 periods, then you take a longer 20-30 minute break. You can start with 15 minute periods and build to the 25 minute period if this is too hard in the beginning.
  • Meditation is also a brain training technique. It trains the brain muscle to become more single-minded. It can start as simple as closing the eyes and trying a visioning the process of eating an apple, focusing on each sensation. Try stretching this to 10 minutes of being focused on one thing only. It may be helpful to try using a meditation podcast or App.
  • Technology Vacations: when the brain is confronted with two tasks it will choose the easier one, technology is almost always the easier one. Being mindful of technology and setting limits can help brain focus and concentration. One technique is to use an app to manage email interruptions.
  • Organize: plan a certain time every x minutes to respond to those e-mails in your inbox.
  • Prioritize: Leave more difficult tasks for times when the brain is feeling awake and refreshed. The brain will be able to focus better and complete tasks quicker and easier and feel less drained when completed. Make a list of the tasks that need to be done and put them in order from hardest to easiest. Do the difficult tasks before the brain is tired and take breaks in between.
  • Motivation: Making sure the motivation for a task is clear. This allows for a better focus. Concentration becomes easier when there is a passionate goal involved and a clear reward at the conclusion.
  • Brain games and cognitive assessments: the cognitive process can be improved if properly trained. Validated programs can be sued by doctors and individuals that allow training of brain functions that plan a role in concentration online with fun and interactive games and activities.
  • Nature bathing: walking in a wooded area or a place, with trees and grass, can noticeably improve brain focus and concentration levels. In nature, there are fewer distractions and stimuli that require the brain’s attention that allows the brain to disconnect and calm down.
  • Mindfulness training can help improve attention as well as reduce stress levels, anxiety, and depression. Mindfulness can change the brain because it helps keep thoughts focused on one single idea that helps improve concentration. There are mindfulness programs for children and adults that have shown efficacy in research.

Natural Supplements for Brain Focus & Concentration:

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *