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Alex B. Brain fog and TMS

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by Guest, Jun 10, 2015.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    I experience what I hear described as a "brain fog" feeling which is similar to having a head ache/hang over ;even upon awakening with a slight balance problem. I firmly believe this is a TMS related condition but wonder if others have had the same problem. I recently read Dr.Sarno's Mind Body Disorder and experienced improvement before completing the book. I have read Healing Back Pain years ago and was cured by following the program. This "brain fog" and off balance in walking is so different as opposed to pain itself that I seek confirmation from others who have had a similar problem.

    Thank you Ed
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 16, 2015
  2. Alex Bloom LCSW

    Alex Bloom LCSW TMS Therapist

    Hi Ed, thanks for the question. Hopefully some other people here will share their experiences with you, but the symptoms you are describing are definitely ones that I’ve seen in my own practice. It’s important to remember that your unconscious mind is capable of generating pretty much any physical sensation. This is how the nervous system works - even when you stub your toe, you don’t actually feel it in your toe, it’s your brain that interprets the signal and tells you it’s pain. This means that almost any physical sensation is fair game for TMS.

    The best news here is that you’ve already had some success by approaching your symptoms from a TMS perspective. You’ve experienced tangible improvement, even if there’s still some ways to go. This is a powerful piece of evidence that what you are facing has a non-structural basis. Continue to further this work by building on the momentum of success that you’ve started to establish.

    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

    The general advice and information provided in this format is for informational purposes only and cannot serve as a way to screen for, identify, or diagnose depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions. If you feel you may be suffering from any of these conditions please contact a licensed mental health practitioner for an in-person consultation.

    Questions may be edited for brevity and/or readability.

  3. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Fibromyalgia is widely regarded as being a perfect example of a diagnosis that is generally TMS.
    A brain fog like what you are describing is often part of typical fibromyalgia symptoms, so I would say that brain fog is therefore pretty common in TMS.

    You might try putting fibro fog into our search engine at the upper right of the page.
  4. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi. I remember when I first started working on recovery from TMS a few years ago that one day I felt really awful, like I had a bad hang over. I knew I wasn't sick, but it was yet another day that I felt really bad, like it was hard to move and I was achey, brain fog, just felt plain crummy. I had a skype appointment with my TMS therapist and I almost canceled. It just seemed pointless to try and talk when I felt like I could barely get out of bed. I wasn't sure if I would have to pay for the appointment if I canceled last minute so I decided to go ahead with it. Guess what? I felt soooooooo much better after talking to the therapist for an hour! A light bulb went off. After all the reading I thought I understood TMS and what it could potentially cause, but to actually experience within an hour such night and day symptoms in my body was a true revelation. Later on I had similar experiences working with my somatic experiencing therapist where I would walk in feeling really bad and I would walk out feeling 75-80, sometimes 95% better. I do want to add, that this did not happen every time. So you cannot see a therapist and then if you don't have immediate symptom relief deduct the cause is not TMS. But when you are lucky enough to experience a rapid change, it is extremely reassuring. I had some form of brain fog, imbalance, upset stomach, headache for the last 25 years! For many years I investigated and treated perhaps every possible cause of brain fog - I eliminated wheat, did extensive allergy and hormonal testing, elimination diets, raw diets, fasts, had all my mercury fillings removed, thyroid testing, various supplements recommended by various practitioners, accupuncture, chinese herbs, expensive B Vitamins, exercise, yoga... the only thing I did not do that was recommended was a sleep study. I was never able to get to the bottom of the brain fog mystery. I personally have come to believe, at least in my case, that it is TMS. I still have occasional brain fog, but I have felt so much better the last year that I am certain it is TMS.
  5. Lizzy

    Lizzy Well known member

    I was on a spplement for 4 years for brain fog. After learning about tms causing brain fog I stopped taking it. I admit, I was a little nervous about it ;) Happily I had been having a placebo affect! I don't have brain fog anymore, yay! So, take heart, you can treat it as others here did!
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
    Forest likes this.
  6. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'm not sure if I sometimes have "brain fog "or just am having a stuffy head from either allergies or emotional stress. It usually goes away when I keep my mind busy on something I like to do or think about. I consider it all a part of TMS and do deep breathing. Or I laugh and feel better. The foggy head goes away.
  7. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    We can all be helped by a combination of deep breathing and mindfulness, living in the present.

    According to a 2010 Harvard study, people spend 47% of their time worrying about things that aren't happening ... and, understandably, are less happy because of it. By focusing on your breathing, you keep your mind in the present moment on your current action.

    Better still, in as little as 90 seconds of deep, diaphragmatic breathing, you can initiate your parasympathetic nervous system, which shuts down the stress response by lowering cortisol (stress hormone), blood pressure and heart rate while increasing oxytocin and endorphins (happy hormones).

    Diaphragmatic breathing uses the expansion and contraction of your diaphragm to take long, deep breaths. To stimulate diaphragmatic breathing, inhale deeply for a five count into the lowest lobes of your lungs, focusing on expansion of your lower ribs while avoiding any arching in your midback. Then exhale for a five-or-greater count to completely empty your lungs. Continue breathing this way for at least 90 seconds.

    While breathing diaphragmatically, focus all your attention on the sounds and sensation of your breath. Notice the expansion and contraction of your rib cage. Follow the full path of air in through your nose, down your throat, through your lungs and back again. If your mind wanders, bring it back to your breathing.
    Cap'n Spanky likes this.
  8. Guseman

    Guseman Peer Supporter

    Brain fog and dizziness have been major symptoms for me along the way. Besides meditation and re-reading constant reminders that I have TMS, one thing that helped (a good addition to the positive self talk) was to actually try to visualize a physical fog lifting away from my head. But its most definitely a possible TMS symptom! Sometimes it helps just to know that it happens to other people too :)
    Forest likes this.
  9. RichieRich

    RichieRich Well known member


    I spent 3 weeks of hell back December 2013 when my wife was in her first trimester and I was commuting 4 hours a day through snow to work 10 hours and come home to take care of her.

    One day I just felt off. The whole room was spinning. I felt disembodied. I started blaming the caffeine and pseudoephedrine as the main culprits. I was able to still work, but I became obsessed over Meniere's Disease and Vertigo and other crazy stuff like realignment of crystals in my ears. Literally, the entire 3 weeks, I was doing all kinds of crazy yoga moves to try to move the crystals around because I thought for sure that was the problem.

    Now I'm being modest in this post, as I'm sure most people will be. Brain fog sent me into the depths of hell for those few weeks. Between the mounds of snow, the isolation, work stress and now brain fog, I was about as depressed as one could possibly get.

    End result, nothing happened. Brain fog is one of the worst symptoms of [anxiety and/or TMS]. Do yourself a favor and don't Google it. Brain fog searches bring up really crazy things. Kind of like the flu, you really have to let the fog settle on it's own. Try to engage in as much discourse as possible. It'll give your head a nice break. Eventually it will pass. I still get a "fog" in the morning sometimes, but it resolves itself pretty quickly. You'll be fine.
    Durga likes this.
  10. tammyg

    tammyg New Member

    Hi Ed, Yup. I can tell you I experienced brain fog and something I described felt like I was underwater (sounds alot like your hangover off balance description). These symptoms seemed to be worse under florescent lights in stores..? These were the first symptoms to disappear for me after reading the mind body prescription.

    All the Best
    Durga likes this.
  11. tjl31970

    tjl31970 New Member

    I know I had TMS back in 2004 when my back pain was so bad I could not hold my new born daughter. Dr. Sarno's books healed me then. However, recently I started developing other unusual symptoms including Brain Fog and Dizziness. In fact it got so bad I started having anxiety attaches. I too changed my diet and saw doctors, nothing could explain it. It was then that the light bulb went off in my head that it must be TMS. Since this realization the anxiety attaches are gone and Brain Fog symptoms have gotten better. For me mindful meditation and reminding myself that it's only TMS and can't hurt you, helps me cope with it. I also reread Dr. Sarno's books and "Unlearn Your Pain". I'm so glad to see this wiki exists now so we can share our stories. It's comforting to know other are having similar symptoms.
    Durga likes this.
  12. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

    Whilst my back issue has been a constant for about 8 years it always co-exists alongside other symptoms which vary in intensity etc. I had the dizzy, spaced out, derealisation feeling along with a stuffy tension headache for well over a year each and every day...I thought this would never go and lo and behold about 18 months ago it just vanished one morning to be replaced with GI symptoms. I have had the GI symptoms for over a year and they do seem to be getting better but just as this happens I notice I'm getting the headaches again and the dizzy, unstable and bouncy feeling all over again...it basically feels like my legs belong to someone else half the time. Is this TMS? I'm not sure but I'm pretty sure it is a physical anxiety symptom which is often much the same thing.
    Durga likes this.
  13. tjl31970

    tjl31970 New Member

    I also had GI issues; IBS and then Acid Reflux, but when I learned that TMS can also manifest these GI symptoms, I stopped all medications and focused on my TMS learning and I have been symptom free ever since. I also had similar experience with my anxiety, but for me it was best described as an out of body experience or like living in a cloud of fog. It got so bad I felt like I was lousing my mind. When you get overwhelmed and your mind is racing with all the "what ifs" and the crazy possibilities, you have to stop your mind. I do this through very simple daily mindful meditations. If you have not yet read "Unlearn Your Pain". I recommend it. For me it was a modern interpretation of Dr. Sarno's books and very helpful. You must keep reminding your self that these symptoms (what ever they may be) are only TMS; your unconscious mind manifesting physical symptoms to create a distraction. I lost years trying to find other reasons for my symptoms, but every time they were PPD/TMS. Don't fall into that trap. Just invest in yourself and do one or more or the programs and you will have a break through. I went from IBS, to server back pain, to Acid Reflux, then more back pain, then anxiety attacks and brain fog. Sometimes multiple symptoms at one time. For me certain work and life stresses triggered my TMS. You need to learn to find your triggers. The programs will help you do that. The good news is that YOU can stop TMS and your not the only one dealing with these crazy symptoms. Best of luck Huckleberry...
    Durga likes this.
  14. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

    Yeah, I had that out of body thing going on last time as well. They term it de-personalisation and it was awful...like you say it was like living in a bubble or something and there being a thin veneer between yourself and the outside world...I would look at people when I was walking around as if they were aliens or something. Whilst I'm not having that again at the moment the head pressure, fog and feeling off balance sensation is much the same..the annoying thing is being a health anxiety sufferer even though I had this 2 years ago and it passed I'm still letting it worry me again.

    I also had the Acid Reflux with the IBS. This has been going on for well over a year. I had twin scopes about 5 months ago and nothing untoward was discovered so I don't worry about it so much now. The reflux has settled down a fair bit but I'm still left with the main thing of my stomach making the most awful bubbling, gurgling and creaking sounds pretty much all day long...this seems quite common with IBS.

    Like you allude to it is like there has to be symptoms of some sort going on pretty much all the time and wherever your focus goes those symptoms become more powerful and override the other ones.
  15. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    That was the scariest symptom I had in the summer of 2011 before I discovered Dr. Sarno - I called it "shaky legs" but you describe it better. It's also one of the symptoms that completely disappeared and never came back again after I finished reading The Divided Mind. I've had excellent success banishing various GI symptoms I'd had off and on for years - culminating in several months of alarming weight loss during that summer five years ago. I had stopped eating many favorite foods, but again, that resolved after reading TDM and starting this work, and I eat whatever I want now (the weight loss unfortunately reversed itself, LOL).

    The one symptom that plagues me regularly, just because I'm an anxiety hog, is the brain fog. I call it "vague dizziness" but I think brain fog is probably more accurate as it's being described here. I'd been complaining about it for several years before 2011, but my primary (female) doc just said "lots of my post-menopausal female patients experience dizziness" so clearly she thought there was nothing wrong. It got so bad in 2011 that I started having anxiety attacks and depression, along with multiple other symptoms.

    Even though I still experience this, it's a lot better than it used to be, and the big difference is that I don't fear it. It seems to be harder for me to banish than the more physical symptoms, however, because I have pretty good luck visualizing those going away. Deep breathing and mindfulness help the most.
    Durga likes this.

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