How can trauma cause memory loss? Isn’t memory loss related to age or brain disorder? Well, there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Memory loss can be an unpleasant and sometimes terrifying experience, particularly when it is caused by a traumatic incident. According to research, there’s a clear link between the occurrence of emotional, psychological, or physical trauma and memory. Knowing how can trauma cause memory loss will help you understand what you’re dealing with and even help you cope with your problems with memory.
Memory loss may be a temporary coping mechanism to repress upsetting psychological trauma but can also be a result of a serious brain injury. Let’s learn more about how it affects our well-being.
Can Trauma Cause Memory Loss?
Normal aging can cause forgetfulness. But it does not lead to a dramatic loss in memory. Many ask questions like, “Can trauma cause memory loss?”
Well yes, this condition may be caused by many things, trauma is one of the many reasons. Let’s learn more about the causes of memory loss from trauma.
1. Physical trauma and memory loss
It refers to severe injuries or physical trauma to the body, which can even cause post-traumatic stress disorder in some people. It may lead to a temporary loss of memory. Memory loss takes place to help a person cope with the traumatic event that resulted in the injury.
If a person has experienced an accident, sexual or physical violence, the trauma of that incident could be a reason behind their forgetfulness. Some may experience partial or short term memory loss. But the length of memory loss depends on the severity of the injury.
2. Brain trauma and memory loss
Any form of trauma can cause a great deal of stress among individuals in both the short term and long term. This type of trauma may be caused by head injuries and the stress can have a negative impact on different areas of the brain, such as the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex. These areas of the brain are also strongly linked with cognitive function and memory.
This is considered as the “fear center of the brain,” and is activated or regulated in response to stressful situations which are characterized by heightened stimulation.
B. Prefrontal Cortex
This helps process working memory, and deals with the information that we need to remember on an everyday basis.
This is known as the memory center for the brain and is responsible for storing, converting, and retrieving memories. It also allows us to compare past memories with present experiences.
Injuries from brain trauma and memory loss in kids or alcoholics are the most common types. Such traumatic events can be so intense that it can spark post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
3. Psychological or emotional trauma and memory loss
Other than physical or brain trauma, emotional or psychological trauma can also affect your memory. Humans develop memory loss as a survival skill or defense mechanism to protect themselves from psychological damage.
Adverse childhood experiences of violence, sexual abuse, and other emotionally traumatic events can lead to dissociative amnesia, which helps children cope by allowing them to temporarily forget details of the event. Dissociative amnesia is a condition in which one cannot recall important events or details about their life.
In childhood trauma and memory loss – a child will often suppress memories of a traumatic event until they are ready to handle them.
This trauma and short term memory loss can lead to dysfunction in the child’s adulthood and relationships. The memory loss from trauma can also manifest itself in different ways including flashbacks of the event and intrusive, unwanted thoughts, etc.
How Does Trauma Cause Memory Loss?
We’ve understood why trauma and memory loss are linked but how does trauma affect memory? Ever wondered about that?’
Trauma can shut down episodic memory which is responsible for creating and recalling everyday information. It can even prevent one from making sense of the general information (like images, words, or sounds).