trauma and memory loss

Trauma and Memory Loss

Among other severe effects on your brain and body, memory loss is one issue associated with trauma. While some trauma survivors get stuck in a cycle of reliving the same events with flashbacks and nightmares, other people suppress their awareness as a form of self-preservation.

Understanding Trauma-Related Memory Loss

Your mind is capable of extraordinary feats, including shielding you from the reality of painful and traumatic memories. If you’ve gone through a frightening or life-threatening experience, the idea of reliving it can be unpleasant. As a result, your brain may lock that memory away with a form of memory loss called dissociative amnesia.

How does your brain suppress memories? Prevailing scientific research indicates specific pathways are only active in response to fear. Traumatic events affect chemicals like the amino acid GABA to create a new memory network. Unlike your other memories, these encoded memories are only accessible if those same neural pathways and receptors become active again. 

What Kind of Trauma Causes Amnesia?

Any significantly distressing incident can elicit a physical and emotional response. Because everyone processes things differently, events that leave a mark on you might not cause lingering effects for someone else. Examples of traumatic experiences can include:

  • A natural disaster
  • A robbery or mugging 
  • Military service
  • Being in a car accident
  • Parental or domestic partner abuse and violence

When memory loss occurs, it often affects the specific traumatic occurrence. For example, a robbery victim may not recall being held at gunpoint, but can clearly describe what happened the rest of that day.

How Else Does Trauma Affect Your Brain?

Compared to brain scans of people without PTSD, brain imaging of trauma survivors shows changes in the regions that govern memory and decision-making abilities. Trauma can cause your brain to suppress your memory and impulse control, keeping you trapped in a constant state of hypervigilance and fear. 

It might seem like trauma-related memory loss and other brain changes are with you forever, but that’s not true. Thanks to neuroplasticity, you can work with a therapist to rewire your brain, recover lost memories, and reverse these damaging effects. At The Last Resort, we use evidence-based methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing

Why Choose The Last Resort?

At our men’s-only treatment center for trauma and co-occurring substance use disorders, you will find a supportive community and a sense of fellowship that stays with you from the moment you arrive until long after you leave. Our ranch-style facility sits on 50 secluded acres in the heart of Texas, offering stays ranging from 40 to 90 days. We provide a safe, encouraging, and transformative environment for recovery, based on 12-step principles and scientifically proven methods.  

To learn more about how our treatment for trauma, PTSD, and addiction can help you get your life back, please contact our admissions team today.