Long-Covid and Cognitive Deficits

Brain fog, together with fatigue, are two of the most common and debilitating symptoms of post Covid-19 infections (also known as “long Covid”). Meta-analyses have been found that about 1 in 5 individuals experience cognitive deficits for 12 or more weeks following COVID-19 infection. Some studies have also suggested that even mild cases of Covid-19 may be associated with cognitive deficits after recovery.

This blog aims to provide valuable insights and tips for managing brain fog in the context of long COVID, offering practical strategies to improve attention, memory, executive functioning, language skills, processing speed, and mental well-being.

What is “brain fog”?

Brain fog refers to a collection of cognitive deficits including:

  • Attention- reduced attention span, poorer concentration, being easily distracted
  • Memory- forgetfulness, misplacing belongings, losing track (i.e. forgetting what you want to say in the middle of a conversation or forgetting what you were supposed to be doing)
  • Executive functioning- poorer reasoning or analytic skills, confused thinking, poorer judgment in decision-making, difficulties with multi-tasking
  • Language- difficulties recalling certain words in the midst of conversations)
  • Processing speed- being “not as sharp as before”, slower to process information

The causes of these cognitive deficits are generally believed to be related to the inflammation or damage to our central nervous system by the Covid-19 virus.  These cognitive deficits can lead to impairments in a person’s daily functioning (e.g. drop in work performance and productivity) as well as reduction in the person’s quality of life (e.g. memory issues can make it more difficult to keep track of important dates and social gatherings with friends).

It can also be emotionally distressing having to cope with these cognitive deficits over a prolonged period of time. For example, it can be very embarrassing if our minds “go blank” in the midst of doing an important presentation at work. Not being able to perform to our optimal functioning level can be frustrating, anxiety-provoking as well as depressing. In fact, depression has been frequently reported by sufferers of long-covid. In turn, both depression and anxiety can lead to further worsening of cognitive deficits, forming a vicious cycle.

Here are some tips in coping with brain fog due to long-Covid.


  • Fatigue has been shown to affect attention and concentration. Therefore, it is important to sleep early and have sufficient rest at night. 
  • Taking regular breaks can help to cope with a shorter attention span.
  • Working in an environment that is relatively quiet can help to minimise distractibility.


  • Record down important dates and information and form a habit to check these records regularly so you do not forget them.
  • Set reminders in your phone or get someone to remind you of important dates and information.
  • Rehearsing information can help to better retain information and recall them at a later time.

Executive functioning:

  • Set aside time to consider carefully and plan ahead on what you want to do. 
  • Setting up a routine can also make tasks less stressful. 
  • Discuss with someone when trying to problem-solve a complex issue or make an important decision. Avoid performing these tasks with haste.


  • Practising reading and writing as well as engaging in conversations with others can help to maintain your language skills.

Processing speed:

  • Breaking down complex information into smaller “bite size” pieces can help to take in new information better.

Depression and Anxiety:

  • Seeing a psychologist for psychotherapy can help to overcome issues of depression and anxiety linked to coping with long-Covid. This will help to limit further exacerbation of brain fog.
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Dr Jaswyn Chin

Dr Jaswyn Chin

Lead Clinical Psychologist

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