Everything You Need to Know about ADHD Brain Fog

adhd brain fog

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a disorder that impacts a person’s memory, focus, and attention. One of the major symptoms of ADHD is brain fog. Brain fog makes people feel confused and out of focus. In this article we will discuss what ADHD brain fog is and what you can do to combat it.

What is ADHD Brain Fog?

ADHD brain fog is a symptom of ADHD that refers to mental fatigue and delayed thinking. Brain fog can be extremely frustrating for those with ADHD. Brain fog can make it difficult for people to function as they usually would. Individuals experiencing brain fog have difficulty thinking clearly and staying focused. This can lead to exhaustion, anxiety, and depression. These individuals are often disorganized and restless, and feel unproductive. 

What Does ADHD Brain Fog Feel Like?

Brain fog in individuals with ADHD can make them feel like they are actually living in a hazy fog. It takes longer for those experiencing brain fog to react to people, situations, or conversations. Brain fog also makes it challenging to process or recall information or words when trying to respond to someone. Individuals with brain fog have a hard time following a conversation. Brain fog can cause frustration, anxiety, difficulty at work and in school, and difficulty in relationships. Those with ADHD brain fog have difficulty reading and may find themselves reading the same sentence or paragraph over and over without comprehension. 

Symptoms of brain fog include:

  • Physical and mental fatigue
  • Inability to focus
  • Confusion
  • Reduction in productivity 
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Disorientation
  • Feeling disconnected from your environment and other people
  • Jumbled thoughts and ideas
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Feeling distracted
  • Moving slowly
  • Feeling unmotivated 
  • Difficulty expressing yourself
  • Feeling like you are living in a cloud

Does ADHD Cause Brain Fog?

Is brain fog a symptom of ADHD? Not necessarily, although it can be. People can experience brain fog for a variety of reasons other than ADHD as well. Inflammation in the brain may play a role in the development of ADHD, and in turn may play a role in the development of brain fog. Neuroinflammation can sometimes be caused by external triggers, such as exposure to cigarette smoke or other pollutants. 

Research has also shown that individuals with ADHD have high levels of cytokines in their bodies. Cytokines are small proteins produced by cells that are messengers between cells. Although cytokines are a part of a natural healthy immune response, a high level of cytokines indicates inflammation. High levels of cytokines can lead to many of the symptoms of ADHD, including brain fog. 

Certain medications used to treat the symptoms of ADHD may cause brain fog as one of their side effects. This can turn into a vicious cycle since the thing that is supposed to help ADHD may actually worsen the symptom of brain fog. In this case, you may need to speak with your doctor in order to change the dosage of your medication. 

In addition to ADHD, brain fog can be caused by a variety of other factors. Other causes of brain fog include fatigue and lack of sleep, stress, poor diet, dehydration, aging, traumatic brain injury, central nervous system injury, cognitive decline, allergies, or certain health conditions.

The Difference between ADHD and Usual Brain Fog

ADHD brain fog and regular brain fog have similar symptoms. However, ADHD brain fog happens more often and is more ongoing and persistent than other causes of brain fog. This is due to the differences in the brain of an individual with ADHD. ADHD brain fog doesn’t come and go in the same way that brain fog related to dehydration, poor sleep, or a medication condition can. Although both types of brain fog may be related to inflammation, ADHD brain fog does not have a sudden onset as it might following a traumatic brain injury. 

There is a cyclical relationship between ADHD and brain fog. The other symptoms of ADHD can lead to brain fog, which in turn makes the other symptoms worse. Individuals with ADHD also have a hard time sticking to the healthy habits that can help reduce brain fog, such as getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating a healthy diet. Brain fog can then increase when those with ADHD do not follow a healthy lifestyle. 

How to Get Rid of ADHD Brain Fog

Can you get rid of ADHD brain fog? While there is no cure for ADHD, there are several things you can do to help reduce brain fog. Below are some examples:


ADHD brain fog can develop or increase when you do not get enough sleep. Try to have set times that you go to bed and wake up, and stick to them. Implement a relaxing bedtime routine to make sure your mind is relaxed enough to have a restful and deep sleep. Improve sleeping conditions by making sure your room is dark and cool, avoiding use of technology before bed, and limiting caffeine in the afternoon and evening. 


An unhealthy diet can contribute to ADHD brain fog. As with most health conditions and symptoms, your body needs the proper nutrients to function at its best. Focus on eating mainly nutrient dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, fish, and lean meat. Limit fried and sweet foods. 


Some individuals with ADHD respond well to medication. There are two types of medication treatments available: stimulants and nonstimulants. Keep in mind, however, that the wrong dosage of these medications can have the unintended effect of making brain fog worse. Consult with your doctor before taking any medications.

Drink More

It is important to stay hydrated. Dehydration can increase symptoms of ADHD brain fog. Research has proven that dehydration impacts focus, attention, energy, reaction time, and memory. Drinking half of your weight in ounces of water every day can help keep these symptoms of brain fog at bay. 

Exercise regularly

Although brain fog can make you feel tired, regular exercise can actually give you more energy. It can also help improve your ability to attend to tasks. Exercise reduces stress and improves sleep, which can improve focus. Movement can be especially helpful for students who are struggling to sit down and complete homework. Exercise also has the added bonus of improving executive function, which can help children plan, organize, attend to, and complete tasks. 

Limit Distractions 

Anyone who tries to multitask and do too many things at once can find it difficult to complete even one of those things well. For example, if you try to read while watching a movie, you will likely not be able to follow the storyline of either. Those with ADHD brain fog will also find it hard to focus if they are distracted. Limit time spent watching TV or listening to music while trying to accomplish other tasks, as this can be too distracting. 

Set Reasonable Goals and Incorporate Breaks

Instead of trying to complete large tasks all at once, break them up into reasonable steps. For students, instead of completing all homework at once, do one subject at a time. Another idea is the Pomodoro Technique. This is a time management strategy in which you set a timer for 25 minute intervals, and then take a short 5-10 minute break when the timer goes off. Repeat this for 4 rounds, and then take a longer 20-30 minute break. This can help increase productivity. 

Establish Routine

Many people thrive under a routine, and those with ADHD are no different. Set up a routine or schedule for your day or for a specific task. For example, students can have a specific morning routine when getting ready for school, another routine for after school, and a bedtime routine. It is helpful to have these schedules written down. You can also use pictures. Having this set up reduces the mental load of having to remember what you need to do, which is helpful when experiencing brain fog. 

Using Forbrain to Help with ADHD Brain Fog

Forbrain can also be used to help reduce the effects of brain fog. Forbrain is an auditory stimulation headset that makes a great addition to any treatment strategy for ADHD brain fog. Individuals are able to hear their speech clearly amplified when they use Forbrain. This helps individuals focus, which improves concentration and attention to task. 

Final Words

ADHD brain fog is an extremely frustrating symptom of ADHD. You don’t have to settle for living in a fog. There are some lifestyle changes you can implement to reduce the effects of brain fog, which in turn can lessen the overall symptoms of ADHD. Try a few of the tips provided in order to improve your ADHD brain fog.


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Garza, E. (2023, April 6). What Does ADHD Brain Fog Feel Like and How Do I Reduce It? Brillia. https://discoverbrillia.com/blogs/articles/symptoms-of-brain-fog-in-adhd 

Giampapa, V. (2022, February 21). How to Manage ADHD Brain Fog. Healthycell. https://www.healthycell.com/blogs/articles/how-to-manage-adhd-brain-fog 

Stanborough, R. J. (2022, January 26). What to Know About ADHD and Brain Fog. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd-brain-fog 

Amanda Unrau

Amanda is a speech language pathologist by day, and a freelance writer during the in between times. She has worked with children of all ages in a variety of private practice and school settings, as well as telepractice. She enjoys research and tries to make her speech therapy and writing as functional as possible.