Oh, Sarah Lancashire, could we love you any more? The award-winning Happy Valley star has just become a real midlife hero when at last week’s National TV Awards (NTAs) she admitted she was suffering awful brain fog. She described how she had gone shopping in Sainsbury’s when her mind went blank and she couldn’t remember what she had gone for. “It just comes over you all of a sudden.” She added: “I can’t remember things that happened 30 years ago either.”
It’s the everydayness of the situation – an ordinary supermarket trip – and the way she described it so matter of factly, which has struck a chord with so many. “Brain fog can knock women sideways,” says Ann O’Neill, co-founder of Adora Digital Health, a new app that helps support menopausal women in the workplace. “It’s the symptom that distresses them most.”
It’s also one of the most common symptoms – studies show that it can affect up to two-thirds of women going through the menopause. The condition is caused when two of the main female hormones, oestrogen and testosterone, start to fall during perimenopause and menopause. These play an important role in cognition, and as levels drop it can lead to problems with memory, concentration and focus.