In the past scientists believed that once the brain experiences trauma or brain damage of some sort, the damage becomes permanent. Brain neuro-plasticity and grief were not fully understood at the time. As the study of the brain advanced it was found that the brain is neuro plastic. In simple terms, meaning it can change. This should be considered great news for anyone who has experienced any physical, mental or emotional trauma.
When humans experience an emotional trauma such as a death of a loved one grief comes along with it.
Grief itself can have an affect on the brain. “When you are grieving, a flood of neuro-chemicals and hormones dance around in your head. “There can be a disruption in hormones that result in specific symptoms, such as disturbed sleep. Loss of appetite, fatigue and anxiety.” says Dr. Phillips. When those symptoms converge your brain functions take a hit.”
Grief and Brain Function
- Memory loss
- Disturbed sleep
Can Grief cause Brain Damage?
When there is physical injury, say a car accident or other high impact injury brain damage makes sense and can be an obvious side effect. Memory loss, fatigue, anxiety, and so much more. When the trauma is not an actual physically jarring experience it is harder to assess or understand that the brain can experience trauma and brain damage through emotional trauma.
Brain neuro-plasticity and grief
When I think of plastic I think of all the things plastic can be molded into. Toys, cups, storage containers, etc. there are an endless amount of useful things that plastic can literally be molded into. I visualize as the heat hits the plastic it can be turned into anything. For me it is a visual example of the neuroplasticity of the brain. If the brain has experienced trauma from life events. If grief has taken over and made daily life a struggle. Remember the brain can change and heal.
My favorite neuroscientist is a woman named Dr. Caroline Leaf. Dr. Leaf uses a model of a tree that is made of black wires wound together to make the bare branches. It is a leafless tree that appears dead and charred. She uses this as an example of the brain when toxic thoughts and toxic grief takes over.
Furthermore the brain is molded to the pattern of toxicity and has a huge impact on the brain and its function. She also has a tree that is fruitful and full of life as an example of the way in which the mind can heal the brain and improve and regenerate its function.
Even if you have experienced trauma that has affected your brain function there is good news. With the right tools and support you can retrain toxic thinking and recover brain function.