38. Emotional abuse can cause brain damage
Now, what kind of damage can an abusive relationship cause?? Narcissistic abuse acts like traumatic stress, and this can lead to PTSD. PTSD is the way the memory retains the vividness in a persistent way of something that happened. Just like soldiers in war victims of emotional abuse often end up having brains that are hypervigilant and they're always scanning for patterns of similar emotions left from that moment of abuse and this is a way for the brain to guarantee its survival. The problem is that it tends to overreact in situations that are not dangerous.
PTSD can develop after a scary or shocking event and it can also interfere with your daily function. Some of the symptoms of PTSD are insomnia getting easily startled, having constant negative thoughts, nightmares, reliving the trauma with either nightmares or flashbacks. Some studies suggest that this long-term stress can also affect three different parts of the brain.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released during this abuse and it can damage the brain's hippocampus. It can trigger various mental disorders like depression and anxiety. This hormone is released during emotional abuse and other trauma-related situations. This is where the short-term memories are stored before they become long-term memories. This is the part of the brain that decides how, and when you're going to learn new things, and with continuous and constant abuse, these brain cells might shrink, and it may be difficult to learn new things.
The other damage that it could do in the brain is in the prefrontal cortex. This is the part located right behind the eyes and this controls the memory and your decision-making in planning. This area can also shrink when exposed to traumatic stress during or after a narcissistic relationship, a victim can find it difficult to make decisions and the attention span seems to become shorter. Depression and lack of self-care tend to accompany these symptoms, depression and lack of self-care tend to accompany these symptoms.
Another part of the brain that is affected is the amygdala. This is the center of the brain. This gets activated when you feel anxious or scared. This is where all the abuse memories are stored and this gets activated when someone talks about it on the contrary to the other two parts of the brain, the amygdala increases in size and this manifests as anxiety or mood disorder. The hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, tend to shrink and the amygdala is the one that increases creases.
Abuse comes in different forms, but the way the abuse stays with you will vary from person to person. You might be the type of person to remember every single detail, or you might be the type to completely disassociate from it.
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