Complex PTSD

 

The majority of us have heard about PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), the condition that can occur when someone is exposed to a situation over which they had little or no control and from which there was little or no hope of escape. It is often associated with members of the military who have witnessed the horrors of battle, or with people who have endured an extreme physical or emotional trauma. PTSD can occur after experiencing even just one threatening situation, such as being involved in a car accident. But, what about those who have gone through long-term exposure to a continuing, intense level of stress?

Recently, mental health experts have begun to realize there are more layers to the emotional suffering experienced by people who have been through long-lasting stressors like childhood sexual abuse, for example, or years of domestic violence. In cases like these, a PTSD diagnosis partly addresses their condition, but doesn’t adequately define the severe psychological harm that has resulted from the trauma. Therefore, some mental health professionals now believe there should be a new category added to the PTSD diagnosis – one that will encompass this emotional scarring from long-term, chronic trauma: Complex PTSD (C-PTSD).

Even with this new classification, it is important to note that the victims of chronic trauma can have both PTSD and Complex PTSD simultaneously. Here is an easy way to see the differences between the two conditions:

  • A child witnessing the death of a friend in an accident may show some symptoms of PTSD
  • A child who has lived with years of sexual or physical abuse may have symptoms of C-PTSD in addition to PTSD.

CPTSD Symptoms

People who have gone through a long-standing, extremely traumatic situation may exhibit both physical and emotional symptoms related to their ordeal.

Emotional symptoms may include:

  • Rage displayed through violence, destruction of property, or theft
  • Depression, denial, fear of abandonment, thoughts of suicide, anger issues
  • Low self-esteem, panic attacks, self-loathing
  • Perfectionism, blaming others instead of dealing with a situation, selective memory
  • Loss of faith in humanity, distrust, isolation, inability to form close personal relationships
  • Shame, guilt, focusing on wanting revenge
  • Flashbacks, memory repression, dissociation

Victims of C-PTSD may also have physical symptoms, such as:

  • Eating disorders, substance abuse, alcoholism, promiscuity
  • Chronic pain
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems.
  • Migraines

Help for Complex PTSD

With Complex PTSD, healing cannot happen on its own because the survivor keeps reliving the trauma through flashbacks and dreams. People who suffer from C-PTSD may go for years before making the connection between their symptoms and the chronic stress and trauma they have been trying to cope with. Once they do, healing can begin and many people have been able to overcome their past to find a more meaningful and healthy present.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be highly effective in treating both PTSD and Complex PTSD. This therapy works to change unhelpful thinking and behaviors. It challenges deep-seated patterns and beliefs. CBT therapy helps replace “errors in thinking” (for example: magnifying negatives, minimizing positives, and overthinking) with more realistic and effective thoughts. This serves to decrease both emotional distress and self-defeating behaviors.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a fairly new therapy that helps specifically in the treatment of trauma recovery and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/CPTSD. It has been shown to help trauma survivors heal faster than through traditional therapy. In fact, EMDR can be successful in as few as 3-12 treatment sessions. This means that relief from your pain is not only possible but it can be obtained in a relatively short amount of time.

We Can Help

Complex PTSD can be debilitating. Those who suffer from CPTSD may be at greater risk of substance abuse or of deliberate self-harm in order to cope with their emotional pain. We can help! To learn more, contact the mental health professionals at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email The Center today.

 

 

 

Save

10 Comments
  1. Pingback: CPTSD and Trustworthiness – catholicwarriormom

  2. Reply
    broderie

    Thanks for finally talking about >Complex PTSD – The Center for
    Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders <Liked it!

  3. Reply
    Elizabeth Lewis

    Even though I can’t find help for my C-PTSD, I truly cried when I read this article. Thank you. I have lived through so many traumas and have been in therapy for years without improvement (cognitive and EMDR). I also just returned from a private six hour appointment with Dr. Jon Connelly and he performed light hypnosis using his world renowned Rapid Resolution Therapy. Not one peep of improvement. I am also getting zero benefits from my plethora of anti psychotic medications. Now, my wife has PTSD symptoms from living with my illness and the daily rages with unbridled anger. I am BEGGING for support and help.

    • Reply
      Sam

      Hi Elizabeth, I hope you’re doing better. There are books I’m reading now which you may find useful, like Complex PTSD – From Surviving to Thriving by Pete Walker and The Body Keeps the Score Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Kolk.

  4. Reply
    Karen Cifuentes

    Anywhere in California that can help ? Recently left my husband after 7 years of physical mental emotional abuse. I gym, have individual and group counseling yet i cannot cope. I need help.

  5. Reply
    Amanda

    I think that it is irresponsible to promote CBT and EMDR for CPTSDas the realty is that the complexity and chronic nature of developmental trauma in children who have been abused does not respond to these treatments. The evidence does not support the assumptions and limitations of cognitive therapies. EMDR is designed for DISCRETE episodes of trauma and is not appropriate for the chronic relational trauma associated with emotional abuse in childhood.

  6. Reply
    Jonathan

    I have ptsd and it’s hard for me to talk to people or go out and get a job idk what to do it’s so crippling for me, I practically always get anxiety when I’m by myself and having to do outside activities.

  7. Reply
    David

    At last I can begin to understand what happened to me. I do not want pitty. I want to get better. My years of torture finally have a name.

  8. Reply
    JustTakePills

    I’ve long been aware of PTSD & Complex PTSD: their causes, symptoms, differences, etc. Most articles I’ve read highly recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as an effective approach to lifting the dark, oppressive clouds in which PTSD or C-PTSD sufferers live. But 99% of those articles do NOT explain: what distinguishes a therapist who practices CBT from a general therapist, what training, licensing, type of practice, years of experience, how to identify which therapists as good or poor fits for you. One of the well-known publications on psychology runs photos of therapists & lists therapies they practice. Most lists identify CBT as just one of 10 or more therapies they do. Very few list CBT as their specialty. Research has shown it takes 10+ years to develop expertise in one specialty. So, please, what are the attributes of expert CBTs? Who is a CBT among those saying, “I do everything!” Which therapist treats mostly PTSD or C-PTSD?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Call Us (561) 496-1094