Memory loss and the part trauma plays in it.

Human Brain

Written by Lois Kennedy


Memory loss and the part trauma plays in it.

Did you know that one of the most common signs of trauma is a foggy memory? Research shows a definite relationship between your memory and occurrences of emotional, psychological or physical trauma.

Memory fog can be a very frustrating experience, but for some, it may be a temporary route to help you cope with your trauma. That being said, in some cases, it may be more permanent due to a severe brain injury or disturbing psychological trauma.

Why is it important to know how trauma can affect your memory? Understanding the relationship between trauma and your memory can help ease and guide you into choosing an appropriate treatment to best help you cope with your trauma.

The effects and relationship trauma has on your brain.

A traumatic experience can cause both long term and short-term stress. The response to this stress can impact different areas of the brain (prefrontal cortex, amygdala and hippocampus). These areas of the brain are strongly associated with your memory function.

Physical, Emotional or Psychological Trauma and Memory Loss.

Physical trauma, primarily if brain damage occurs due to an injury, can significantly affect your memory. Experiencing a physical trauma can impair a person’s ability to store and process information. An example of injuries that could lead to damaging the brain and causing this would be a head injury or stroke.

The second type of trauma that can affect your memory is emotional or psychological. This type of memory loss is also commonly known as psychogenic amnesia or functional amnesia. As said earlier, memory loss can be used as a defence mechanism in many cases when someone’s stress or experience is too painful for them to sort through at that time. Examples of incidents that result in trauma-induced memory loss could be sexual abuse, violence and other traumatic events.

It is important to remember that everyone has different experiences and how you handle it afterwards is individual to you. In some instances, people will never stop suppressing specific memories until they are ready to manage them.

The healing processes.

The time to recover and overcome a traumatic experience is different for everyone. For some, it might take days, weeks or months. It is usual for every individual to heal at their own pace; however, if several months have passed and you feel that your symptoms have not improved, it is time to seek professional help.

Other reasons as to why you would seek professional help are if you are using alcohol or drugs to self-medicate, suffer from anxiety, depression or fear, feeling emotionally numb and disconnected from others and experiencing horrific memories, flashbacks or nightmares.

If you are experiencing any of the above and want to seek help, you can continue with whatever you feel most comfortable with. Working with a trauma specialist, a certified therapist can help you recover and heal your emotional trauma. A second option could be seeking help in a centre qualified in trauma treatment.

Seeking out help will allow you to process your trauma-related feelings, rebuild your ability to trust others and learn how to control and understand your emotions.

Experiencing memory loss due to physical trauma, many sometimes benefit from surgery. Following surgery, therapy is also used to help the individual recover memory.

If you still feel that your memory loss could be psychological, emotional or physical trauma-induced, you should seek professional help and start the healing process.

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