PTSD doesn’t only effect combat veterans, it can effect first responders (fire, police, ems, etc), as well as civilians, even children.
There have been many studies related to memory issues related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This particular study, a literature review by Kirstin W. Samuelson entitled: “Post-traumatic stress disorder and declarative memory functioning: a review” looks at the association between “everyday memory problems with emotionally neutral material”.
Studies have shown that many PTSD patients complain of memory problems, aside from those symptoms that are part of the diagnostic criteria (intrusive thoughts, difficulty remembering parts of the trauma, etc.). This study focuses on declarative memory – that is memories that can be consciously recalled, like facts and knowledge. This type of memory can be broken down into two aspects: semantic memory which stores factual information and episodic memory which includes specific personal experiences.
The author notes “It should be emphasized that overall, decrements in memory performance due to PTSD are subtle, […] still, the findings are clinically meaningful when they represent a change in functioning before and after trauma”. She goes on to say that “the pattern of memory deficits reveal that PTSD most significantly impacts the initial acquisition and learning phases of memory, as opposed to the retention phase”.
In plain English this is a great big “duh!” to those of us with PTSD. We deal with this every day. We forget the simple things, we give up on school because learning seems so much harder than it used to be before…before our world changed. Things that once seemed a piece of cake are now complicated and hard to remember.
We’ve been busy… Chauncey and I just finished our Associates Degree and now we’re taking the summer off to recharged for university this fall! Its amazing to me…other than military schools, I have never had the pomp and circumstance commencement thing.
I will readily admit that I over did it this semester. I took 18 credit hours trying to get my degree finished. This was on top of my other life responsibilities like parenting four children and taking care of a household…and Toastmasters, of course. By the end of the semester, I had to stop attending Toastmasters to focus on my classes and everything else suffered too. Unfortunately, when you have PTSD multi-tasking becomes a lot more challenging. Remembering what is due, when, in which class, which kid has a parent-teacher meeting, take out something for dinner, write a speech, write a paper, read… yea right! I had myself so overwhelmed that I was forgetting assignments and I couldn’t read more than a paragraph at a time without forgetting everything I had just read. Needless to say, we will NOT be doing that again!
Now that we are finished with this semester, Chauncey and I are trying to regroup, recharge, and redeploy to our next mission. I am looking forward to relaxing, reading something because I *want* to, and reconnecting with my Toastmasters friends (something that I really do find relaxing, oddly enough). I will be refocusing this summer and sharing some of the research I’ve done over this last semester regarding PTSD’s physiological and psychological effects.
Its amazing how much something as simple as a little tassel can mean. When you go from being terrified to interact with another human outside your house to earning a degree at age…well…we’ll just say I was one of the more mature students!
Stay tuned! I’ll be sharing lost of information very soon!
By the way…we graduated Cum Laude!