REWRITING TRAUMATIC MEMORIES

Did you know memories can be rewritten?

There’s a method of treating post-traumatic stress disorder that attempts to erase or dampen the stressful feelings associated with a traumatic memory. Mental health professionals use a few techniques to do this.

With one, they distract their patient’s mind with another task while the patient attempts to bring to mind the traumatic memory. With another, they give the patient an anxiety medication before asking him or her to recall the memory. In both techniques, the brain’s experience with the traumatic memory is rewritten toward more neutral feelings.

A new study shows this process really is about rewriting a memory instead of suppressing it. Working with mice — first giving them traumatic memories and then therapy to overcome those memories — scientists were able to see that the neurons involved in recalling the initial traumatic memory were the exact same ones involved in recalling a new, not-so-traumatic version.

This discovery is a big deal for people trying to understand how memory and therapy work. It could lead to better treatment for people suffering from PTSD.

It’s a really interesting study. Read more about it here!

You Might Also Enjoy...

Accountability and Mental Health

Patients have a direct role and responsibility in their mental health. A person could have years of counseling and medication services, yet if there is no accountability on the patient’s part then what good would they do? 

Depressed? It May Be the Time Change

A Danish study recently found that depression diagnoses go up significantly (8 percent) in the month following the change from Daylight Savings Time back to standard time.

Self-Compassion and Your Mental Health

Perfectionism — ever-unattainable! — is bad for your mental health. People who expect perfection are often overly critical of mistakes, which can lead to depression.

Medicating for Depression: the Basics

When someone comes to me with depression, the first decision we make together is whether we’ll treat with therapy, medication, or both. In my experience, a combination of the two is the most effective approach.