ZocdocAnswersWhy are there certain time periods of my life that I can't remember?

Question

Why are there certain time periods of my life that I can't remember?

I'm 35 years old, and the time periods which I have difficulty remembering is college and early 20s. During that time, I was going through a very hard time. I was clinically depressed for which I was hospitalized a few times. I was also drinking a lot. When I look back on my life, I am able to remember so much about my childhood. But I have gaps in my memory about events from college and the few years afterwards. I'm wondering if my gaps in memory are related to drinking and/or the depression. Perhaps I have subconsciously blocked these memories because of how painful and terrible that time was. Just curious, from a medical perspective, if this could be the cause. Thank you

Answer

I recommend that you discuss your concern with your doctor. Your explanation is certainly a reasonable idea. There are others of course, but it is well known that we can tend to repress memories that are painful to us for some reasons. This is one of the coping mechanisms that can be used as we try to help defend ourselves from pain and come to have some sort of happiness in our life. On the other hand, it is also true that both depression and drinking can lead to some decreased memory. Alcohol and the effects of heavy drinking can be very detrimental to the formation of new memories due to the impact that it has on the short term consciousness. It is hard to know for sure what has caused your lack of memory, and there could be many other possible explanations as well. In addition to traumatic events, trauma itself could be another cause of memory loss. In other words, both the post traumatic brain response and also the direct and more tangible physical response to brain injury could both result in decreased memory. Even overall poor health and wellness can decrease your mental health in some situations. Again, please speak with your doctor about this and to make sure you are well now.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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