Post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) is a disorder that occurs after physical harm has taken place or the threat of harm occurred to an invidiual. Although it is typical for the humans fight or flight response to kick in during times of extreme stress and threats, individuals with PTSD are not able to turn this off and can begin to feel the same stress when danger is no longer present. What victims of PTSD deal with, what parts of the brain are associated with PTSD and why memory loss may occur are important fundamentals of understanding PTSD.
Victims of stressful and dangerous situations can often experience Post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, nearly 7.7 million American adults have PTSD. This disorder can cause a number of symptoms including flashbacks, frightening thoughts, memory loss of the event, depression and much more. Clear emotional and mental responses are present in these victims.
Research has shown that individuals who experience extreme danger such as sexual abuse or war soldiers have physical changes to the hippocampus. This is a part of the brain that is associated with memory and learning as well as stress. This would explain why many individuals with PTSD are unable to recall the event or many details of the event that triggered the PTSD. The Hippocampus can be stressed to a point of not only forgetting the triggering event, but impair new learning. New research has shown that the hippocampus is capable of regenerating nerve cells and under extreme stress can slow down or even stop this ability. Other areas of the brain are also associated with PTSD, which include the medial prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain deals with emotional and fear driven reactions.
With the hippocampus playing a role in PTSD, it is quite clear why memory loss is reported for many PTSD victims. The hippocampus is associated with memory and can be damaged under great stress such as trauma and fear. Some scientists believe that the memory loss is to protect the victims from reliving these events, however most PTSD victims will still feel a huge sense of fear around similar situations whether that be dark halls or the place the trauma took place. Thus implying that even without exact memory, these victims still go through agony and torment over the traumatic event.
In conclusion, PTSD occurs in a number of victims of trauma each day. Individuals who seek counseling and family support after trauma may reduce their risk of PTSD. Victims of PTSD experience many real and frightening responses to fear. These are believe to be associated with brain activity from the hippocampus and the medial prefrontal cortex. Memory loss is a symptom of many PTSD victims both of the event and even future learnings.
“The Invisible Epidemic: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Memory and the BrainBy: J. Douglas Bremner, M.D..” The Invisible Epidemic: PTSD & the Brain. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2014. <http://www.pandys.org/articles/invisibleepidemic.html>.