Lifting the Fog: Treating Cognitive Problems | CFIDS & Fibromyalgia Self-Help

“Lifting the Fog: Treating Cognitive Problems

By Bruce Campbell

(Note: From the series Treating CFS and Fibromyalgia.)

Most CFS patients and many people with fibromyalgia experience cognitive problems, often called “brain fog” or “fibro fog.” The difficulties, which many people find very distressing, include being forgetful, feeling confused, difficulty concentrating and the inability to speak clearly.


Cognitive problems can have a variety of causes, including:

Overexertion Being too active, living “outside energy envelope”
Fatigue Hard to be alert when tired
Over-stimulation Sense information from multiple sources
Multi-tasking Doing more than one task at the same time
Stress Stress increases CFS/FM symptoms
Poor Sleep Not getting restorative sleep
Medications Side effects include confusion


Cognitive problems are sometimes treated with stimulants, such as Provigil (modafinil) or caffeine, but these substances can produce a push/crash cycle. In the words of one patient, “Taking stimulants is like borrowing energy you don’t really have. You feel better while you’re on it, but when it wears off, you crash.” This article describes 14 non-drug strategies for lifting the fog, divided into three categories.”