From a teen in the U.S.: As of late I’ve noticed some startling changes in myself. I’ve always been a clear minded person, one who wasn’t easily distracted, and I’ve always had a good memory of things. As of recently (the last few months), I’ve been stuck in a mental fog. I can’t think clearly, or understand simple concepts anymore. I feel as though there’s a wall blocking me from mentally going past it, and trying to get past it only makes the confusion and fogginess worse. I can’t remember things I used to remember– like important events or things that were told to me minutes beforehand. My mood is here and there, one moment I’m okay and the next I’m angry and irritable.

Some days I feel so disconected and emptionally numb that I can’t stand even talking to my family. Sometimes I verbally lash out, and I don’t understand why I did it moments later. I’m easily distracted and can’t hold onto a train of thought long before it goes away entirely. This occurs especially whenever I am reading a long sentence. I’ll have to read it over multiple times just to figure out what it means, and it’s honestly extremely frustrating. I feel like everything I used to know is slipping right out of my hands, and I’m just not sure what to do about it.
Any help is greatly appreciated, thank you.

A: Make an appointment with your doctor right away. This may not be a mental health problem at all. It may be a symptom of a medical issue that needs attention. Start there.

If you aren’t getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night, it may be as simple as sleep deprivation. If that’s the case, put yourself on a routine that will ensure that you are getting quality sleep. That means getting to bed early enough that you will have at least 8 hours in bed. That means putting your phone in another room and getting off all screens at least an hour before bedtime.

If you are doing the basics — eating well, getting some exercise every day and sleeping at least 7 hours a night – and if your doctor determines that you are medically fine, then consider seeing a mental health counselor for an evaluation.

You are wise to ask for help now. This has already gone on too long. Although I do understand your wish that you could handle it yourself, it’s time to get some consultations.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie