In this comprehensive review, we will be examining the topic: blank mind syndrome.
What is Blank Mind Syndrome?
Blank mind syndrome, otherwise known as mind-blanking refers to an extreme division between perception and attention. This is a situation where attention fails to bring any kind of stimuli into conscious awareness.
During these episodes, it feels like your mind has disappeared nowhere. The individual is not focally aware of any stimuli, either internal or external.
Blank mind syndrome could be a symptom of trauma, depersonalization disorder, or other dissociative disorders. It is an irritating and disturbing situation which makes us incapable to get our things done, especially during urgent callings.
Role of trauma in Blank mind syndrome
A common complaint reported by many trauma sufferers is the apparent absence of thoughts. It makes them feel highly debilitated and empty inside. When you suffer from a traumatic event, you might experience your mind shutting off, where you are unable to feel any emotions at all.
This is a defense mechanism adopted by the person to protect him/her from experiencing extreme negative emotions that are residual of the traumatic event. In addition to this, your ability to think and comprehend sensibly might also be compromised.
Mostly they feel as if they are on autopilot mode, living each day like a robot. Although they may seem fine externally, they could be completely devoid of emotions and thoughts inside.
Traumatic events need not be necessarily be pertaining solely to physical assualt or road accidents. It can also emerge as a result of consistent abuse in childhood or lack of proper care and nurturing from caretakers/parents. The child mostly develops post-traumatic stress disorder, in later stages of life.
The distinction between blank mind syndrome and Lack of attention
There is a clear difference between your mind going blank and you not paying conscious attention to your immediate surroundings and thoughts. If you can observe that your mind is blank and able to put the thought into words, it may be possible that you’re not just paying attention to what is going on in the present moment.
If there exist thoughts in your mental space, it means your mind is not blank. In most cases, we fail to pay close attention to the menial tasks we perform, almost daily. These tasks include washing dishes, checking social media, or going for a jog, and so on…
During the performance of these tasks, the brain conserves energy by switching off the attention circuit. At this point, our attention is free to roam around anywhere and it is naturally directed to our thoughts.
Although this can appear like a blank mind, it’s just you not paying close attention to what’s going on around you.
A simple exercise
If you want to know whether you’re suffering from blank mind syndrome, here is a simple exercise that would help you with the same.
Try thinking about a situation, person, or anything which makes you happy or you might be interested in it. Further, try memorizing the details about the subject matter. For instance, it could be an interesting conversation you got to have with someone. In this case, try to remember the words or lines which intrigued you.
Let the thoughts and emotions flow out and do not do anything consciously to stop the flow of these thoughts. You will slowly start to remember the details, one by one and if you can do so, then you can engage your mind in producing thoughts, on instruction.
This exercise will tell you if you are actually suffering from a blank mind syndrome or if it’s just you lacking the energy to devote attention.
Mental chatter refers to the constant traffic of thoughts commonly experienced by humans. These could vary from judgments we make about our current experiences to thoughts we have about particular situations or people, or just random thoughts passing by.
Mental chatter is a hallmark of human life. Though harmless by nature, we can turn it into something distressing and uncomfortable by constantly feeding our brain negative thoughts.
At times, these thoughts can also turn out to be scary and intrusive if not dealt with properly.
Care should be taken to differentiate between this mental cacophony and blank mind syndrome as both are not the same.
Causes of Blank mind syndrome
The causes of blank mind syndrome can be both external as well as internal. Some of them are as given below:
Sometimes, when we are to achieve a goal, our brain will have to wire and adapt itself to come up with new ways of thinking and analyzing the environment. In these circumstances, our mind sabotages our efforts to remain immutable.
If we are anxious about going out or performing in front of the public, it would generate a considerable amount of stress in us causing our mind to draw blanks.
Sometimes, blank mind syndrome can be a consequence of the side effects of any medication you might be consuming at a given point in time. In this case, it is important to inform your doctor/health professional and seek the necessary help.
When our sleep cycle gets disrupted due to various reasons, it affects our ability to think straight as a consequence of both physical well as mental exhaustion.
Our brain can also blank out or stop working properly when it’s not fed with a sufficient amount of resources it requires for performing the various tasks we have to take up in our everyday lives.
Associated medical and psychological conditions
Several associated medical and psychological conditions could occur as a result of blank mind syndrome. They are as follows:
- Changes in blood sugar levels
- Mental fatigue
- Alzheimer’s disease
Anatomy of an empty head
There are three major regions of the brain that are involved in blank mind syndrome. They are;
The hypothalamus, hippocampus, and the prefrontal cortex.
Hypothalamus: the hypothalamus is highly associated with our endocrine system and hormones throughout our body. It forms the bridge between our perceived emotions and physical sensations.
Hippocampus: this part plays a major role in the learning and retrieval of facts. Hippocampus is the center of emotions.
Prefrontal cortex: the prefrontal cortex differentiates human beings from other mammals. It helps in the activities of planning, decision-making, impulse control, and social interaction with other human beings.
Coping strategies for blank mind syndrome
For dealing with blank mind syndrome, four specific areas need to be addressed. Being proactive helps you to reduce the fears, frustration, and lack of control this phenomenon can cause. The strategies are as given below:
- Understand how the brain works: when even computers can suffer from a Crashdown, then why not the complex human brain? You must understand the fact that our brain can work on overload and break down at times.
The brain can store a vast amount of information. However, its ability for immediate retrieval might not always be accurate. It depends on the accuracy of your short-term, long-term, and attention power.
- Usage of specific techniques: learning and practicing deep breathing exercises can help you gain a sense of inner calm and stability. When your mind goes blank, take deep, long, and deliberate breaths that will help you to recollect and allow you to process the information before anxiety sets in.
- Pay attention and be alert at the time of delivery of information. Never take it passively. Keep in mind to be attentive to external cues and make them meaningful to you. Let your awareness around your information naturally help you to come up with ideas.
- Indulging frequently in brain puzzles and teasers can help in sharpening your problem solving and observation skills. It could also be something as simple as answering riddles or daily newspaper pop quizzes.
- Writing frequently helps in articulation skills and your ability to turn thoughts into words smoothly. Write articles, essays, or short reviews on anything you find interesting.
- Make a habit of keeping written notes and ideas and keep them handy with you. Take them along with you whenever and wherever necessary. When your mind draws a blank, you can use these notes for reference.
- Ensure that you do a background check before you start to do something. Make yourself familiar with the concept at hand and try to develop a niche. In this case, the chances of going blank or getting stuck are much lesser.
- Be aware of yourself throughout the day. Maintain honesty about your issues, losses, drawbacks, and traumas that might be getting in way of your optimal functioning.
- Learn to ground yourself in your environment and to trust your intuitions in times of need.
In this comprehensive overview, we discussed: blank mind syndrome. We examined the nature, causes, alternate conditions, and management strategies to deal with blank mind syndrome.
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FAQs: Mind Blank Syndrome
Why is my brain so blank?
The blanking of the brain is a condition known as brain fog. It could be indicating nutrient deficiency, sleep disturbances, or bacterial overgrowth that occurs from overconsumption of sugar, depression, or thyroid problems. Certain other factors that contribute to brain fog are binge eating, lack of proper sleep, poor diet, chronic stress, and general inactivity.
Does anxiety make your mind go blank?
Yes. your mind can go completely or partially blank when you tend to get anxious. This happens because of the disruptions in the neural pathways in the brain which affects your memory and attention and causes you to blank out from added stress and anxiety. This will eventually interfere with your performance of the activity.
Does anxiety kill brain cells?
Chronic anxiety can affect your brain cells adversely. Pathological anxiety and chronic stress have been found to cause structural damage and impaired functioning of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, in the brain. This increases the risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders such as dementia and depression.
What is it called when your brain goes blank?
The condition wherein your brain goes blank without warning is called acute confusional state or delirium. In this disorder, your mind slips and goes blank without forewarning and results in a feeling of helpless confusion. If this happens to you in a strange place, away from home, or somewhere unfamiliar, the confusion can be terrorizing.
What brain fog feels like?
Brain fog refers to a condition in which you experience an inability to maintain a sharp memory and to keep a continuous focus on the task at hand. You feel very different from your usual self and your thinking becomes cloudy. It is recognized to be a medical condition that can result in mental fatigue. It can also result in varying lifestyle problems.
Why do I feel like my brain is fried?
Mental exhaustion, alternatively known as burnout or ‘brain fired’ happens when we are heavily stressed out or when we indulge in mental activities requiring immense concentration and dedication. It happens to all of us at one point or another in life. It leads to physical exhaustion and an inability to think clearly. Burnouts can be flushed out with a good resting period.