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.


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5 Responses to “How Trauma Affects Your Memory”

  1. nokulunga

    I’m a 21 year old female living in durban.I used to be ontop of my class in high school.but in 2005 I lost my dad a day after my birthday,n in a few weeks after I lost my brother too.I was fine by then and didn’t seek any help to deal with the lost.but when I lost my grandmom I completely lost it because I saw her lying in bed iv memory loss,can’t sleep,can’t concentrate,I’m feeling lonely,dnt wana be around people,and iv anger insyd me,suicidal thoughts,and negative about life.I knw I need help but I don’t know where to get it and I cannot afford to pay for it.please help me if you can.

    • Kelly Borden

      Hi Nokulung – Please contact us for help and more information please contact us at 866-768-6719.

  2. Emily

    My mother died in 2004, I was 15 years old. She stopped breathing in a grocery store, I was with her and she died before the paramedics arrived. I am now 24 and have two beautiful children who occupy ever minutes of my life. When I lay in bed at night, sometimes I have difficulty remembering what happened just that day or the day before. I also have a hard time remembering anything that happened in my life before my mother died. I have often wondered if her death is the reason for this. The only thing I know to do, is stand firm and then eventually put one foot in front of the other and continue on the best way I know how. Its a scary thing, though, not being able to remember.

  3. Kelly

    Hi, I’ve been trying to research my memory problems, this is a new thing for me but the last year and a half it’s been getting progressively worse and it’s making life and my relationship very difficult, when I have an argument or serious, emotional or unpleasant conversation with my bf I forget it very easily, the latest situation being 3 days ago when we had an argument and I cannot remember much of it, I know the memory is there I can remember pieces of it but not much its as if I can’t access it. I’m wondering if its the same as above since the last year and a half I’ve gone through a break up after 5 years together, I’ve overdosed and been in very hectic situations and recently my ex bf who I was still friends with killed himself, I just want to know what could be happening with me so I can go from there

  4. Kristina

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