ADHD and Brain Fog: Unraveling the Connection and How to Manage Symptoms

ADHD and Brain Fog: Unraveling the Connection and How to Manage Symptoms

It's not uncommon to experience moments where the mind feels like a foggy labyrinth, making simple tasks feel like navigating through dense mist. For those living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), this sensation can become a frequent companion, blurring the lines between distraction and focus. This fog isn't just a nuisance—it's often deeply intertwined with the core characteristics of ADHD.

Understanding the connection between ADHD and brain fog is crucial for developing effective coping strategies and improving overall quality of life.

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that significantly impair daily functioning and quality of life. It typically manifests in childhood and can persist into adulthood.

ADHD Symptoms

  • Inattention
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity
  • Inability to focus
  • Impatience
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Unfinished tasks
  • Interruptions

Individuals with ADHD often face another challenge known as "brain fog," a sensation of mental cloudiness or difficulty focusing.

ADHD is a heterogeneous condition, meaning that it can present differently in different individuals and can vary in severity. It can also co-occur with other mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders, depression, and learning difficulties, as well as sleep disorders.

What is Brain Fog?

Brain fog is a term used to describe a subjective sensation of mental cloudiness, confusion, and difficulty with cognitive processes such as thinking, memory, and concentration. It can feel like a haze has descended over the mind, making it challenging to focus, remember information, or process thoughts efficiently. While not a medical diagnosis in itself, brain fog can be a symptom of various underlying conditions or factors.

Symptoms of Brain Fog

  • Decline in cognitive abilities
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Mental fatigue
  • Sluggish thinking
  • Lack of mental clarity
  • Emotional impact

ADHD and Brain Fog

Those with ADHD experience brain fog-like symptoms such as difficulty concentrating and expressing thoughts, memory issues, cognitive fatigue, and feeling disconnected and sluggish. Although the exact mechanisms behind the link between ADHD and brain fog are unknown, several factors may contribute to the relationship:

Neurotransmitter Dysregulation

The cognitive difficulties experienced by those with ADHD are often due to an overabundance of dopamine transporters in the brain. These excess proteins lead to a greater rate of dopamine uptake, resulting in fewer dopamine neurotransmitters available for use in the brain's pathways. This imbalance between the production and uptake of dopamine can hinder the brain's ability to formulate new memories, recall information, and perform other cognitive tasks.

This was supported by del Campo et al. (2011), who found that individuals with ADHD have increased dopamine transporter density in cortical areas, meaning that dopamine levels were not at optimal levels. This deficiency has been associated with inattention, a symptom that overlaps with brain fog. Interestingly, supplements like TMG, donate methyl groups to support neurotransmission, and more and more people with ADHD choose to add TMG (trimethylglycine) into their morning routine. 

Sleep Disturbances

ADHD and sleep problems often go hand in hand, contributing significantly to the brain fog experienced by many individuals with ADHD. Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, as well as irregular sleep patterns, can lead to fatigue, which can worsen brain fog. This is a common issue for those with ADHD, as their minds may be too active to settle down for sleep.

The link between sleep disturbances and cognitive problems is well-established in the literature. For example, Nir et al. (2017) found that sleep deprivation disrupts brain cells' ability to communicate with each other, leading to mental lapses that affect memory and visual perception. Therefore, sleep disturbances, a common symptom of ADHD, may exacerbate these cognitive difficulties, contributing to the experience of brain fog.


Neuroinflammation refers to inflammation in the brain, which can result from various factors such as chronic stress, environmental toxins, or immune system dysfunction. Studies have shown that individuals with ADHD have elevated levels of inflammatory markers in their brains, suggesting that neuroinflammation could be a contributing factor to the development or exacerbation of ADHD symptoms.

Additionally, neuroinflammation has been associated with cognitive impairments and mood disturbances, both of which are common features of brain fog. Cytokines, small proteins involved in regulating immune responses and inflammation, play a pivotal role in orchestrating neuroinflammatory processes.

Studies have shown alterations in cytokine levels in individuals with ADHD, suggesting dysregulation of the immune system and inflammatory pathways.

Stress and Anxiety

ADHD often coexists with stress and anxiety due to the challenges in managing attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. The constant struggle to focus and maintain productivity can create a cycle of stress and anxiety.

When stressed or anxious, individuals with ADHD may experience heightened symptoms such as racing thoughts, difficulty concentrating, and restlessness, contributing to brain fog—a state of mental cloudiness or confusion where cognitive functions are impaired.

This brain fog can further exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety, forming a complex interplay between ADHD symptoms and emotional well-being.

Strategies to Manage and Prevent ADHD Brain Fog

Living with ADHD brain fog can be challenging, but there are strategies that can significantly help manage and prevent its occurrence.

Lifestyle Changes

Physical exercise is a powerful tool to combat brain fog. It enhances blood flow to the brain, improves cognitive function, and reduces inflammation. Incorporating a healthy diet with iron-rich foods like leafy greens and beans can also support executive function.

A consistent sleep routine can also prevent fatigue and cognitive impairment. Ensure you're getting enough quality sleep of between 7 to 9 hours per night.

Therapeutic Interventions

Therapeutic interventions can be a game-changer when it comes to managing ADHD brain fog. For example, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help you identify negative thought patterns and replace them with healthier ones, thereby reducing the impact of brain fog.

Techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, and practicing meditation can help you stay focused, calm, and present, which can significantly reduce brain fog.

ADHD Medication

ADHD medications, such as stimulant medication, are often the first line of treatment for ADHD. They work by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain, which can help reduce hyperactivity and improve attention span.

If stimulants aren’t effective, doctors may prescribe non-stimulant medications. These can include antidepressants, which may have fewer side effects and work better for some people.

These medications can help alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression often associated with ADHD, potentially reducing brain fog and improving overall cognitive function.

ADHD Medication Side Effects

  • Appetite suppression
  • Insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns
  • Headaches
  • Stomachaches or gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Increased heart rate or blood pressure
  • Mood swings or irritability
  • Tics or repetitive movements


Incorporating targeted supplements can also play a significant role in alleviating the symptoms of brain fog. One such supplement is NMN Bio's NAD+ Brain, specifically formulated to enhance focus, concentration, and cognitive function while supporting overall brain health.

This blend includes carefully selected ingredients known for their cognitive-enhancing properties: 

  1. Phosphatidylserine supports cell membrane health, aiding in memory retention and overall cognitive function. 
  2. Citicholine enhances neurotransmitter production, empowering memory, focus, and cognitive processing.
  3. L-Tyrosine enhances cognitive resilience during challenging situations, ensuring mental clarity and sharpness.

This supplement offers a holistic approach to managing ADHD brain fog by providing targeted support for cognitive function and resilience.

It's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating any new supplements into your routine, especially if you are already taking medications or have underlying health conditions.

Wrapping Up: Navigating ADHD Brain Fog

Understanding the intricate relationship between ADHD and brain fog is crucial for individuals seeking to reclaim clarity and focus in their daily lives. The attention deficits, hyperactivity, and impulsivity characteristic of ADHD often intertwine and overlap with the foggy haze of cognitive impairment, creating challenges to overcome.

Lifestyle adjustments, including an exercise routine, balanced nutrition, and getting enough sleep, form the foundation for cognitive resilience. Therapeutic interventions such as CBT and mindfulness techniques offer invaluable tools for managing stress and fostering mental clarity. For many individuals, medication remains a cornerstone of treatment, offering relief from symptoms.

Supplements like NMN Bio's NAD+ Brain present promising avenues for augmenting cognitive function and supporting brain health, helping alleviate ADHD brain fog symptoms. The NAD+ Brain is also offered within the Morning Bundle supplement stack, that can help you transform your mornings. With the addition of NMN for cellular energy and TMG to help with neurotransmission, the Morning Bundle is your go to stack to battle ADHD symptoms with results within the first few days of supplementation.

Researched and reviewed by Dr Elena Seranova, Ph.D.

Dr Seranova holds a master's degree in Translational Neuroscience from the University of Sheffield, UK, and a Ph.D in Stem Cell Biology and Autophagy from the University of Birmingham, UK. She is a published author in multiple peer-reviewed journals, including Cell Reports and Developmental Cell.


Allison, D., & Ditor, D. The common inflammatory etiology of depression and cognitive impairment: a therapeutic target. Journal of Neuroinflammation. (2014).

Del Campo et al. The roles of dopamine and noradrenaline in the pathophysiology and treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Biological Psychiatry. (2011)

Hvolby, A. Associations of sleep disturbance with ADHD: implications for treatment. ADHD Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders. (2015)

Nir et al. Selective neuronal lapses precede human cognitive lapses following sleep deprivation. Nature Medicine. (2017)

Saccaro et al. Inflammation, Anxiety, and Stress in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Biomedicines. (2021)

Volkow et al. Evaluating dopamine reward pathway in ADHD: Clinical implications. Journal of the American Medical Association. (2009)