Traumatic events leave their mark on a person, and for some, the result can be post-traumatic stress disorder. Symptoms of this disorder include nightmares; flashbacks; avoidance of topics, people and locations related to the event; negative thinking; and struggles with certain social skills or situations.
Many professionals believe PTSD and its symptoms describe what individuals go through when they have faced a singular or temporary trauma, such as a car accident or assault, but also that some individuals may be dealing with a more specific form of PTSD, which is called C-PTSD. Discover the differences between these two disorders and what treatments are available for someone with Complex PTSD.
What Is Complex PTSD?
Complex post-traumatic stress disorder occurs when someone has dealt with long-term trauma. This means the trauma covered repeated events or happened over a long period of time. Examples might include being a soldier during times of war or being a prisoner of any type: either of war, in a concentration camp or in the world of human trafficking.
Child sexual or physical abuse, which can go on for years, is another example of complex trauma that could result in C-PTSD, as is being in an abusive relationship as an adult. Typically, the events that lead to C-PTSD involve either actual or metaphorical captivity. The victim is under the control of another and is unable to easily escape the situation.
Symptoms of C-PTSD
The symptoms of C-PTSD are among the factors that differentiate it from PTSD. Some symptoms are the same: panic attacks caused by CPTSD can occur, just as they can with PTSD. But complex traumas can dig even deeper emotional and mental scars than singular traumas.
If you’re dealing with C-PTSD, you may experience specific changes in the way you perceive yourself and others. This can include:
- Problems managing your emotions, which can lead to depression, issues controlling anger and even thoughts of suicide
- Repression of memories associated with the events
- Flashbacks or dissociation experiences that relate to memories that you don’t quite have control or understanding over; you might respond to a specific situation instinctively because of those repressed memories and not understand your reaction
- You may react or take action in times of extreme stress and not fully remember how and why you did so
- You may feel helpless, detached or guilty; you may struggle with feeling unable to connect with others or always feeling different from those around you
- You may become preoccupied with the person or people who caused your trauma; with regular PTSD, you may feel a loss of power associated with that person, but C-PTSD can lead to an obsessive desire for revenge
- You may have difficulty trusting others, so you self-isolate yourself and avoid friendships and relationships
- You may not be able to believe that people, overall, are good or enjoy positive thoughts about the future
- Because you can’t maintain hope in the future, you may be unmotivated to do anything for yourself — even if you intellectually want to — today
It’s common for individuals with C-PTSD to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate. They may feel numb, out of control or unable to deal with daily life and use substances to sleep, get through the day or push themselves out of a very tight comfort-zone shell so they can function in society, at least briefly. But self-treating your C-PTSD can result in addiction, which leaves you with another issue to deal with.
Treatment for Complex PTSD
Whether you’re experiencing panic attacks or a lack of motivation caused by C-PTSD or any other symptoms, treatment is possible. That’s true even if you’ve delved into substance abuse or developed an addiction related to your C-PTSD.
Dr. Judith Herman of Harvard University and other professionals have called for C-PTSD to be added as a singular diagnosis to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Even though field studies have not yet shown the evidence to allow that to happen, Dr. Herman and other clinicians know that prolonged traumatic events can lead to C-PTSD. And those cases require special consideration for treatment.
At FHE Health, our staff work with every individual to understand exactly what they might be dealing with so we can address root causes and triggers for every symptom. We know that every panic attack or addiction is not the same, and some treatment options we offer include:
- Medication and medication management for mental health disorders that arise from true chemical imbalances or biological causes
- Neurotherapy, which helps you retrain your brain to respond in certain ways to triggers — in the case of C-PTSD, Neurotherapy may help you retrain your mind to react without a panic attack or more calmly remember and process factors about your traumas
- Individual therapy to help you become more comfortable communicating about your traumas, emotions and other factors in a safe environment
- Group therapy, which lets you learn about others’ journeys with trauma and understand that you are not alone in yours
- Recreational and other types of therapies, which help you strengthen healthier coping mechanisms so you are able to turn to self-care, therapy, support structures and other positive answers instead of drugs or alcohol to deal with C-PTSD
Can CBT Treat C-PTSD?
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CTB, has been proven to be very effective at treating PTSD, C-PTSD and addiction disorders. At FHE Health, we integrate CBT best practices into our inpatient and outpatient recovery programs for that reason.
If you’re dealing with C-PTSD, you don’t have to continue this journey alone. Call us today at 844-299-0618 for immediate assistance. Our caring staff is ready to take your call and provide confidential support and information about potential next steps. You can also complete our online form if you’re ready to begin resolving your C-PTSD.Prolon