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 to deal with and accept the 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
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 which can all be thought of a dissociative memorys; memories that have not stored correctly in the mind due to the high levels of destress and emotion connected to them which can “re-emerge” at any time