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PMS & PMDD Brain Fog & Concentration Problems & 7 Natural Relief Tips
by Dr. Daniel J. Heller
It’s a few days before your period and you’re at work, feeling a little more anxious and emotional than usual, and maybe bloated and achy, too. On top of that, you learn that you misunderstood the assignment your boss gave you this morning, and fear she may now assign it to someone else. You’re not your usual efficient self, because PMS is making concentration difficult, creating fuzzy thinking, and tripping up your memory. PMS brain fog means you just don’t accomplish as much as you usually can.
If you’re a student, on top of your studies and other responsibilities, you may find you have to plan your studies around your cycle, because a week before your period you know you won’t be able to process and retain information the way you normally can. You may even dread tests that are scheduled at the same time as when your PMS symptoms typically occur. Your academic career is more difficult than it should be, all because of your hormones.
If you're a stay at home mom, or a working mom, you may find that your multiple jobs—wife, mother, nurse, taxi driver, cook, cleaner, classroom assistant, homework tutor, social secretary, and household manager—all get a little or a lot harder before your period. Keeping track of responsibilities, staying focused on dinner prep when your brain just isn't clear, struggling to keep your household in it's usual order—you may feel that the difficulty concentrating, fuzzy thinking, and brain fog that come with PMS keep you from being the wife and mother you know you can be.
The way PMS affects your brain and your ability to think clearly, to concentrate and learn, and to function effectively in your life is too often overlooked. For many women, this mental fog, or brain fog, is one of the worst parts of PMS—just as important to them as anxiety, irritability, aches and pains, bloating, food cravings, and other annoying and debilitating PMDD and PMS symptoms that make many women feel "not like themselves" for days or weeks each month.
Brain fog is a funny name for something that is not funny—at all. But it is a remarkably accurate description of the lack of clarity and difficulty concentrating that can occur before the period. PMS brain fog can affect work performance and school and studying; can make it hard to learn new things; and can render you less efficient and capable at home.
This often feeds into an unfortunate and vicious cycle, where mistakes at work, poor performance at school, and not keeping up at home undermine your self-confidence and self-esteem, especially if you don’t realize that hormones are the cause. And the last thing a woman with PMS needs is, something else to chip away at her self-esteem, because as it is the other symptoms such as bloating and acne can already make life feel like a real struggle.
Premenstrual physical, emotional, and concentration problems can impact work relationships and make you less effective at work, or even force you to miss days at work. In fact, PMS and PMDD contribute to work absenteeism, and decrease your productivity in the workplace. In fact, the very definition of PMS and PMDD includes "impairment of functioning" at work, school, and in the home.
So many people don’t realize the real impact that PMS and PMDD have on concentration and mental clarity. Unfortunately, women are often unjustly accused of not being able to think clearly—a temporary health problem is confused with a lack of intelligence or another negative trait. But these are uninformed and ignorant opinions that aren’t based on facts. PMS and PMDD medical researchers know that the premenstrual phase can be marked by difficulty with cognitive tasks that are ordinarily not a problem.