Exposure to trauma impacts ability to suppress unwanted emotional memories

Exposure to trauma impacts ability to suppress unwanted emotional memories

July 22, 2019

Exposure to trauma impacts ability to suppress unwanted emotional memories

Mental Health

People who undergo trauma are relatively less capable of suppressing the disturbing memories from resurfacing in their brain, revealed a recent study, published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. The repeated recurrence of troubling thoughts may eventually lead to the development of a mental health condition called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

PTSD surfaces when an individual witness a traumatic incident or has experienced the same. Patients of PTSD experience flashbacks, extreme anxiety, nightmares, and uncontrollable thoughts about the traumatic incident. PTSD is quite common across the globe and people suffering from this disorder find it extremely challenging to adjust to their environment or cope up with their normal lives. 

Since the symptoms of PTSD are quite intrusive and make the individual feel drained, the inability to suppress the traumatic memories strongly contributes to the behavioral demonstration of the disease. Earlier, research has indicated that it is relatively easier for healthy individuals to successfully suppress traumatic memories, while the same becomes quite challenging for people with PTSD. Individuals suffering from PTSD are unable to suppress the disturbing memories despite explicitly trying to avert them consciously. However, previously conducted researches did not reveal much about the neural and behavioral impacts of suppressing the traumatic memories in individuals suffering from PTSD. 

People exposed to trauma unable to suppress traumatic memories 

For the purpose of this study, the researchers divided the study participants into three groups. The first group comprised of people already suffering from PTSD whereas, the second group included individuals who experienced the traumatic incident but did not have PTSD, and individuals with no history of PTSD or any exposure to traumatic incidents formed the third group. The researchers analyzed the level of memory suppression in these three groups with the help of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technique. After the analysis, it was observed that the individuals who had exposure to trauma previously, irrespective of whether they were suffering from PTSD, were the ones who were unable to successfully suppress the distressing memories compared to the group which had no exposure to trauma. 

The study findings suggested that exposure to trauma had a direct connection with behavioral and neural distractions in suppressing the traumatic memory in individuals, eventually leading them to develop PTSD. According to lead study author, Danielle R. Sullivan, the neuroimaging data of the study participants revealed that individuals exposed to trauma displayed reduced activation in the right middle frontal gyrus section in the brain and were less likely to be able to suppress the traumatic memories. This particular region of the brain plays a crucial role in suppressing memories in individuals. 

Seeking mental health treatment at Invictus Health Group 

Untreated mental disorders can significantly reduce the quality of life. Invictus Health Group is known for working with advanced treatment programs for various mental health conditions, including PTSD and dual-diagnosis. The treatment program Invictus Health Group works with embraces a healthy combination of expressive and experiential treatments, which are customized in accordance to the needs of the patients. 

If you or a loved one is battling any kind of mental health disorders and our looking for a mental health treatment center, feel free to reach out to Invictus Health Group. We can connect you with reliable mental health treatment centers offering reliable mental health programs. Call our 24/7 mental health helpline 866-548-0190 for more information about our network mental health services. You can also chat online with a representative from the admission’s team for further assistance. 

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