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  • Writer's pictureKat Schultz

Trauma & Memory Loss

Have you ever struggled to remember a traumatic event? Have you felt like you've blacked out parts of your life? That may be your brain trying to protect you from your trauma. It's not uncommon among folks who seek Dialectical Behavior Therapy for treatment.

What we call trauma is an emotional response to a distressing event. It varies greatly between individuals. What is traumatic to you may not be to another person.

If an experience you had is upsetting to revisit, research indicates your brain may "hide" the memory away to protect you from reliving it. A 2015 study with rodents showed that "memory subpaths," pathways essentially like roads, exist in our brains that only activate during a fear response. When this response is activated, a new memory network is created that bypasses the traditional pathways that memories take to get stored. More research is necessary to better understand this phenomenon.

It's important to note that not every traumatic experience leads to memory loss. Whether a memory is "lost" along these subpaths can depend on many factors including your mental state at the time, what support you receive after, and the details of the event.

Traumatic memory loss is treatable through therapy. In addition to DBT, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Prolonged Exposure Therapy, and EMDR are helpful therapies for trauma. It can be very difficult to work through trauma, but with the right support, healing is possible.

Source: Psych Central


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