How Trauma Affects Your Memory

Memory loss is a frustrating and sometimes scary experience, especially if the memory loss is caused by a traumatic event. Research shows that physical and emotional trauma can directly affect your memory. Some of this memory loss may be a temporary way to help you cope with the trauma, and some of this memory loss may be permanent due to a severe brain injury or severe psychological trauma. Knowing how trauma can affect your memory can help you choose an appropriate treatment to help you cope with trauma and heal your memory problems.

Physical Trauma and Memory Loss

Physical trauma can greatly affect your memory, especially if brain damage occurs as a result of the injury. Physical trauma such as a head injury or stroke can damage the brain and impair a person’s ability to process information and store information, the main functions of memory.

Another form of brain damage that directly affects memory is Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, which is a consequence of chronic alcohol abuse. Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome is a combination of two disorders: Wernicke’s Disorder, in which poor nutrition damages the nerves in both the central and peripheral nervous system, and Korsakoff’s Syndrome, which impairs memory, problem-solving skills and learning abilities. Severe injuries and physical trauma can also produce post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition that can cause temporary memory loss to help a person cope with the traumatic event that caused the injury.

In the case of physical trauma, the length of memory loss depends on the severity of the injury.

Emotional Trauma and Memory Loss

Emotional or psychological trauma can also affect your memory. Memory loss is a natural survival skill and defense mechanism humans develop to protect themselves from psychological damage. Violence, sexual abuse and other emotionally traumatic events can lead to dissociative amnesia, which helps a person cope by allowing them to temporarily forget details of the event. A person will often suppress memories of a traumatic event until they are ready to handle them, which may never occur.

Emotional trauma can also lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, which can manifest itself in different ways including flashbacks of the event and intrusive, unwanted thoughts about the trauma.

Healing from Trauma-Induced Memory Loss

Recovering from a traumatic experience can take days, weeks or even months. Everyone heals at their own pace, but if several months have gone by and your symptoms have not gotten better, then it may be time to seek professional help. It’s also a good idea to seek professional help if you:

* Have trouble functioning at home or work.

* Suffer from severe fear, anxiety or depression.

* Are experiencing terrifying memories, nightmares or flashbacks.

* Are emotionally numb and disconnected from others.

* Are avoiding things that remind you of the trauma.

* Are using alcohol or drugs to feel better.

If you fall into any of the categories above, then contact a trauma specialist today. A certified therapist can help you process the traumatic event and finally start healing your emotional trauma. Under the care of a treatment facility, you’ll be able to work with a trauma specialist to process your trauma-related feelings and memories, stop the ‘fight or flight’ response, learn how to control your emotions, and rebuild your ability to trust other people. All of this will be done through a series of therapy sessions combined with emotional trauma treatments. Some of these treatments might include cognitive behavioral therapy, somatic experiencing and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).

Patients who have suffered memory loss due to physical trauma can sometimes benefit from surgery. After surgery, therapy is needed to help them recover their lost memories. Patients who suffer memory loss due to Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome should seek alcohol treatment right away at an alcohol rehab.

Anyone who’s been through a traumatic experience knows that emotional trauma hurts. Start the journey to healing by calling a treatment facility today.