Click on the conditions below for more information
Types of anxietyThe five major types of anxiety disorders are:
- Generalised anxiety disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Panic disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
Causes of brain fogExperiencing brain fog is fairly common, but this does not mean that it is normal. The causes of brain fog generally fall into one of two categories — it is either lifestyle-related, or a side effect of a medical condition or medication. Possible causes of brain fog include:
- Chronic stress
- Lack of sleep
- Hormonal changes
- Poor diet
- Physical inactivity
- Some medical conditions
Rates of dementia in the UKIn Autumn 2014, the Alzheimer’s Society published a major study which showed that there are around 850,000 people in the UK with dementia. 1 in 14 people over the age of 65 will develop dementia, and the condition affects 1 in 6 people over the age of 80. The number of people with dementia is increasing as people are living longer, and it is estimated that by 2025 the number will have increased to around 1 million.
In November 2016, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that dementia is now the overall leading cause of death in England and Wales, replacing ischaemic heart disease.
Common symptoms of dementiaThe symptoms of dementia tend to worsen with time. It is possible that individuals may experience difficulties controlling their emotions and may lose empathy. Individuals can become uninterested in their usual activities, find social situations challenging, and may lose the ability to fully understand their environment or situations. Symptoms of dementia can include problems with:
- Cognitive ability and processing of information
- Communication and engaging in conversation
- Reading and writing
- Personality and mood
- Confidence, particularly within social situations
- Carrying out familiar daily tasks
Different types of dementia exhibit different symptoms according to the part of the brain that has been damaged. An individual may not present with all symptoms at any one point in time, and for some the symptoms may be mild and only get worse very gradually. This can be termed as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) as the symptoms are not severe enough for a diagnosis of dementia to be made. Not everyone with Mild Cognitive Impairment will go on to develop dementia, as for some the symptoms will not worsen. It is important to remember that dementia is not a natural part of ageing, so it is important to seek medical advice if you are at all worried.
To date, simply prescribing medication for dementia has failed to make any real, lasting difference, other than perhaps some short-term symptom improvement. This is most likely because dementia is a condition of multiple causes and is influenced by factors both inside and outside of the body. Whilst dementia may be diagnosed in our 70’s or 80’s, the processes that eventually result in dementia occur much earlier – in our 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.
Types of depression
If your GP gives you a diagnosis of depression, you might be told that you have mild, moderate or severe depression. This describes the current impact your symptoms are having on you. There are also some specific types of depression:
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – depression that usually (but not always) occurs throughout the winter months
Dysthymia – continuous mild depression that lasts for two years or more. Also known as persistent depressive disorder or chronic depression
Prenatal depression – sometimes also called antenatal depression - occurs during pregnancy
Postnatal depression (PND) – occurs in the weeks and months after becoming a parent. Postnatal depression is usually diagnosed in women, but can affect men too.
Effects of stress on the brainLevels of the stress hormone cortisol naturally follow a daily rhythm - rising rapidly after waking, falling during the day, rising again late afternoon before dropping to its lowest level in the middle of the night. Chronic increases in cortisol secretion have been found to:
- Induce neuron loss in the area of the brain important for short-term memory
- Increase inflammation
- Lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression
- Cause high blood pressure and other vascular factors that are related to Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia
- Increase blood sugar, which can lead to insulin resistance and possibly result in brain cells being starved of fuel as glucose is unable to effectively enter cells
- Reduce sleep quantity and quality, which can impair brain function
- Affect gut health, as cortisol supresses gut immunity