How Trauma Affects Memory, Emotions And Cognition

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric syndrome that develops after exposure to terrifying and life-threatening events. The emotional experience of psychological trauma can have long-term cognitive effects.

The symptoms of PTSD involve alterations to cognitive processes such as memory, attention, planning, and problem solving, underscoring the detrimental impact that negative emotionality has on cognitive functioning.

Contemporary cognitive models of PTSD theorise that a preponderance of information processing resources are allocated toward threat detection and interpretation of innocuous stimuli as threatening, narrowing one's attentional focus at the expense of other cognitive operations.

Stress and anxiety serve the important functions of preparing an individual to meet the demands of everyday life and increasing the chance for survival.

It is therefore not surprising that arousing and emotionally salient stimuli readily capture attention and have a powerful influence on how information is processed, encoded, stored, and retrieved.

However, extreme levels of stress can have a devastating effect on healthy functioning. PTSD is characterised by disruptive memories and nightmares, avoidance of reminders of the event, and hyper-vigilance toward potential threats in the environment, alterations to cognitive processes such as memory, attention, planning, and problem solving, underscoring the impact that emotion has on cognitive functioning.

Emotional stress alters cognitive networks that process information about perception, meaning, and action responses toward executing goals (Lang, 1977; Foa and Kozak, 1986; Chemtob et al., 1988).

In PTSD, networks representing information about fear become highly elaborated and accessible, which has implications for encoding and retrieval of information. For instance, an elaborated fear structure may lower one's capacity to process non-threat related information, leading to attentional bias toward potential threats in the environment (Chemtob et al., 1988).

Furthermore, nodes of the fear network representing threat arousal may predispose an individual to interpret even innocuous stimuli as threatening. Intrusive memories result from spreading activation of the threat arousal node to related threat nodes, while nodes representing opposing alternatives become inhibited.

Anxiety Disorder Treatment

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of psychological treatment for anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use problems, marital problems, eating disorders and severe mental illness.

Numerous research studies suggest that Cognitive behavioural Therapy leads to significant improvement in functioning and quality of life.

In many studies, CBT has been proven to be as effective as, or even more effective than, other forms of psychological therapies or psychiatric medications and other forms of alternative therapies.

Why is CBT the most successful treatment for anxiety so far?

The success of CBT is also believed to be related to its natural and sustainable approach without side effects or dependencies.

CBT is an approach for which there is ample scientific evidence that the methods that have been developed, actually produce positive change. In this manner, CBT differs from many other forms of counselling or psychological treatments.

Other forms of Therapies for Anxiety that we use in myndpower include Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)

What are the Symptoms of anxiety?

Anxiety Test

To find out whether you suffer form unhealthy anxiety, or up to what extent your anxiety has developed you can take an anxiety test, and we will get back to you with the results from your input.


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