About Brain Fatigue

About Brain Fatigue

Common symptoms

How to recognise brain fatigue

An unusually rapid drain on mental energy

The person suffering from brain fatigue may experience rapid mental exhaustion after mental activity which is disproportionate to what is expected. Some people can continue in their jobs, but for others, problems connected to work and everyday activities are common. There are people who are unable to work, who have obvious difficulties in everyday activities such as taking part in meetings and discussions, shopping, cooking, reading the newspaper as well as spending time with their family and friends. In today’s society, we have to take in, process, and handle a lot of information, which may be too taxing for those suffering from brain fatigue. Sometimes a complete fatigue occurs quickly and without warning. 

Long time to recover

It is important to be aware that the mental recovery time is prolonged and to consider the extended recovery time with regard to working capacity. When suffering from brain fatigue, a person may be able to perform like any other person, but is unable to perform persistently over a prolonged period of time.

Poor concentration

Concentration and attention comprise the functions of keeping focus on what is important and needs to be done over a period of time. Furthermore, concentration is affected by noise and being able to switch attention between different focus points, without losing sight of what is important. When attention fails, the person will find it more difficult to recognise and follow everything happening around them. It may be difficult to participate in discussions or even in simple conversations, read the newspaper or watch TV. The more details the person has to handle, the more difficult it is to keep focus on what is happening.

Variations over the day

The degree of mental fatigue often varies over the course of the day. Many people suffering from brain fatigue may be active in the morning but perform less well in the afternoon and evening; however, rest during the day often improves one’s mental capacity. The capacity to perform often fluctuates between different days and is often related to the level of activity in previous days.

Memory problems

The memory is often perceived to be impaired, but often works well when tested. However, it is more common that events and what is said are not paid enough attention to. Strong experiences of joy and anger are easier to remember, whilst regular conversation, which quickly flicker by, are more easily missed. 

Slowness of thinking

It takes longer to get to the end of the thought and the thinking itself goes slower. For example, it may take longer to read and for some it may be difficult to keep up with reading the subtitles on TV.

Difficult to get started with an activity 

Persons suffering from brain fatigue commonly experience difficulty in starting activities even if they wish to. This may involve taxing activities, but everyday activities can also be perceived as difficult.

Emotional lability and irritability

Persons suffering from brain fatigue often complain of emotional lability, tearfulness, and irritability. They may start crying, even due to things that are not so engaging or even at simple things or in situations when they would not normally cry. Minor incidents may cause the person to become annoyed; however, the irritation often ceases very rapidly. Both these symptoms are severe for the person themselves but also for others in their surroundings.

These symptoms are difficult for the person as well as for others nearby to handle. It is nevertheless important to understand that they are connected to brain fatigue.

Stress sensitivity

Stress sensitivity is very common among people suffering from brain fatigue. Demands as well as doing many things simultaneously are experienced as stressful and the person is often aware of a marked difference compared to before the injury or disease.

Sleeping difficulties

Persons suffering from brain fatigue can have either increased or decreased night sleep. Others may sleep for short periods or wake up often. If daytime activities have been too many or intense, sleep may be negatively affected. Sleeping may improve by reducing the tempo to allow time for recovery and mental rest. In some cases medication may be beneficial.

Noise and light sensitivity

Increased sensitivity to noise and light is common and may be more strongly experienced and cause annoyance. It may be advantageous to shut out noise and light by wearing ear plugs or sunglasses in order to preserve energy for more important activities.


Headaches often appear and become more intense after activities that require concentration, attention, and mental work.