Unresolved childhood trauma can have long-lasting effects on the brain and body. Brain fog can interfere with your daily life in several ways, including:
Difficulty with concentration: You may find it challenging to focus on tasks, maintain attention, or stay on track. This can impact your ability to complete work, follow conversations, or engage in hobbies.
Memory problems: Brain fog can cause difficulties in recalling information, organizing thoughts, or retaining new information. This can impact your ability to recall important details, complete tasks, or plan for the future.
Impaired decision-making: Chronic stress and trauma can affect the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for decision-making. Brain fog can make it challenging for you to make choices, weigh options, or assess risks.
Fatigue: Brain fog can cause mental exhaustion and a sense of mental sluggishness, which can lead to physical fatigue. This can impact your ability to engage in daily activities, such as work, exercise, or socializing.
Mood changes: Brain fog can also lead to mood changes, such as irritability, anxiety, or depression. This can impact your overall quality of life and relationships.
One of the most common symptoms experienced by individuals who are holding unresolved trauma in their nervous system is the phenomenon of brain fog. Brain fog is characterised by a sense of mental fatigue, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and an overall feeling of mental sluggishness. Chronic stress and trauma can cause changes in the way the brain processes information, leading to cognitive problems such as brain fog, memory problems, and difficulty concentrating.
How Childhood Trauma Impacts Our Adult Memory and Concentration
When we go through a traumatic experience, it can disrupt how we form, store, and retrieve memories. Our bodies respond to trauma by releasing stress hormones like cortisol, which can interfere with memory formation. When elevated over many years, cortisol can affect the functioning of the hippocampus, the part of our brain that consolidates our memories. As a result, it becomes challenging to create and hold onto clear memories of the traumatic event itself. This is how we unconsciously protect ourselves from remembering painful experiences that at the time they happened, we didn't have the capacity or safety to process. This is often why childhood abuse and sexual trauma memories get suppressed.
Interestingly, traumatic memories tend to be encoded differently than regular memories. They may feel fragmented, disjointed, and filled with intense emotions, which makes it hard to recall them accurately. Sometimes, reminders of the trauma can trigger sudden flashbacks or intrusive memories, disrupting our normal memory processes and causing distress.
Apart from memory issues, trauma can also lead to memory intrusions and avoidance behaviors. Intrusive memories are these unwanted recollections of traumatic experiences that pop into our minds unexpectedly, even during everyday activities. They can be triggered by various things associated with the trauma, and they tend to interfere with our attention and concentration.
On the other hand, some of us develop avoidance behaviors as a way to cope with the distressing memories. We may avoid anything that reminds us of the traumatic event, try to suppress thoughts and emotions related to it, or even disconnect ourselves from those memories altogether. While these strategies may provide temporary relief, they can hinder the consolidation of memories and make it difficult to concentrate on what's happening in the present.
Trauma can also increase our cognitive load, which is the mental effort required to process information and perform cognitive tasks. If we've experienced trauma, we might find ourselves being hyper-vigilant, constantly on the lookout for potential threats in our environment. This state of heightened alertness diverts our cognitive resources away from tasks that require concentration, making it hard to focus and maintain attention.
Additionally, trauma-related symptoms like anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can contribute to cognitive difficulties. These conditions can affect our ability to control our attention, work with our memory in real-time, and use our executive functions effectively. And as you can imagine, these functions are crucial for concentration and cognitive processing.
Why Taking Meds for Brain Fog Doesn't Work
One reason medication may not be effective for brain fog is that it primarily targets neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are involved in mood regulation. However, brain fog is a complex symptom that can be caused by multiple factors, including inflammation, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial dysfunction. Medication may not address these underlying causes, leading to only partial relief of symptoms.
Some medications may even worsen cognitive impairment. For example, benzodiazepines, which are often used to treat anxiety, can cause drowsiness and impair cognitive function. Antidepressants, which target neurotransmitters in the brain, may also cause cognitive side effects such as memory problems and brain fog.
Alternative approaches, including healing your nervous system and releasing imprints of trauma are much more effective for brain fog. My experience is that this takes less than 4 sessions. These approaches address the underlying causes of cognitive impairment, such as inflammation and oxidative stress, and promote brain health through nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction.
The Importance of Somatic Healing for Trauma Resolution
The brain stem acts as the "ultimate traffic controller," regulating signals from the body and transmitting them to the brain, making it a vital part of somatic integration. It receives sensory information from the body's sensory organs, such as the eyes, ears, and skin, and relays this information to the brain for processing. In addition, the brain stem also sends motor signals from the brain to the body, allowing for movement and bodily functions.
In the context of dissociation, the brain stem plays a crucial role in regulating the body's response to stress and trauma. When a person experiences trauma, the brain stem can become dysregulated, leading to a range of physical and psychological symptoms. In some cases, the brain stem may activate the body's "freeze" response, which can cause a person to dissociate or disconnect from their surroundings.
Dissociation is a coping mechanism that can help a person disconnect from the overwhelming emotions and physical sensations associated with trauma. However, if dissociation becomes chronic, it can lead to a range of negative effects on a person's mental and physical health, including memory problems, dissociative disorders, and chronic pain.
Interoception refers to the ability to recognize and understand internal bodily sensations, such as hunger, thirst, pain, and heartbeat. It plays a crucial role in regulating emotions and physical responses, and it's closely linked to the brain stem. When you have experienced trauma and it is unresolved, unconscious and still held in your nervous system and emotional body, over the long term your interoceptive depth may become disrupted. This can make it difficult to sense and regulate your bodily sensations, make you feel emotionally shut down or create a feeling of numbness and dissociation.
Somatic therapy and deep trauma informed energy integration can help resolve trauma imprints by restoring the connection between your mind and body. You can become more aware of your internal bodily sensations.
By restoring interoception and reconnecting your mind and body, you can gain greater control and autonomy over your emotions and physical responses, reducing the likelihood of chronic stress and dysregulation. It's essential to seek professional help to develop these skills, as they can promote healing and reduce the negative effects of trauma on your physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.
Next Steps: Heal Your Brain Fog by Healing Trauma Held in Your Body
If you're struggling with dissociation or other symptoms related to trauma, it's important to seek professional help to manage your symptoms and promote healing. My online course on dissociation can be taken at your own pace and includes real life demonstrations of healing taking place.
If you want more personalised support my 1-1 healing program can enable you to address the root causes of your symptoms, release trauma from your body including that which is unconscious, and learn how to regulate your nervous system.
Don't let dissociation and trauma hold you back from living a fulfilling life. With my online course or 1-1 healing program, you can take the first step towards healing and reclaiming your life.
If you're a somatic practitioner, you'll know firsthand how important it is to address the impact of trauma on the body and nervous system. Dissociation is a common symptom experienced by individuals with trauma, and it can be challenging to address through traditional talk therapy alone.
My online course on dissociation is also designed for somatic practitioners looking to deepen their understanding of dissociation and learn practical techniques for helping clients with trauma. Through this course, you'll gain a deeper understanding of the brain stem and nervous system's role in dissociation, and you'll learn how to integrate somatic techniques into your practice to promote healing.
The course covers a range of topics, including the different types of dissociation, the impact of trauma on the brain stem and nervous system, and practical techniques for helping clients with dissociation. These are unique approaches that I have cultivated and used effectively in my global practice to get clients deep healing results.
By taking this course, you'll be better equipped to support your clients with trauma and dissociation, and you'll have the tools you need to promote healing and restoration of the mind-body connection. Don't miss out on this opportunity to deepen your knowledge and skills as a somatic practitioner. Enrol now!