Understanding More About Complex PTSD

You may be aware that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is caused by a deeply traumatic event. If you have post-traumatic stress disorder you may experience nightmares or flashbacks, you may avoid situations that bring back the trauma, have heightened reactivity to stimuli, and anxiety or a depressed mood.

But how about complex PTSD? This condition is typically not as well understood as regular PTSD. While PTSD usually occurs after a single traumatic event, complex PTSD is usually associated with repeated trauma and is often caused by childhood trauma. Someone with PTSD may have difficulty controlling emotions, challenges with relationships, disconnection from Self, and a negative self-view.

While it can be difficult to live with complex PTSD, it is possible to receive treatment to lessen symptoms. Many people who have suffered from c-PTSD have gone on to live happy lives after they have taken steps to manage their condition.

What is Complex Post-traumatic Stress Disorder?

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder can occur after exposure to multiple traumas, usually of an extended or repeated nature. This can include things like childhood abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, and war.

Trauma can lead to symptoms like difficulty regulating emotions, flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts. People with complex PTSD may also have trouble trusting people, feel disconnected from others, and have a negative self-image.

Symptoms of Complex PTSD

c-PTSD can cause a range of mental and physical symptoms that can make it difficult for someone to live a normal life. C-PTSD symptoms include:

  • Difficulty regulating emotions – people with complex PTSD may find it hard to control their emotions. They may feel constantly on edge or be quick to anger.
  • Flashbacks – flashbacks are when you relive traumatic memories as if they are happening again in the present. This can happen in your mind or body, and when these traumatic memories are activated you might feel like you are going through the trauma again.
  • Nightmares – nightmares are often one of the most debilitating symptoms of complex PTSD. You may have nightmares about the trauma, or you may have nightmares that are unrelated to the trauma but are still upsetting.
  • Intrusive thoughts – these are unwanted thoughts about the trauma that can come into your mind at any time. These thoughts can be so distressing that it is hard to concentrate or function in everyday life.
  • Difficulty trusting people – because c-PTSD can be caused by betrayal, it can be hard for someone with complex PTSD to trust others. They may feel like they can’t even trust people who are close to them. C-PTSD may also cause people to develop unhealthy relationships.
  • Disconnection with others – people with complex PTSD often feel disconnected from those around them. They may feel like they are different from other people, or no one can understand what they’re going through.
  • Negative self-image – people with complex PTSD may view themselves negatively. They may feel worthless, damaged, or like they will never be able to recover from the trauma.

Traumatic Events That Cause PTSD

There are many different types of events that can cause PTSD. Some of the most common include:

  • Exposure to war
  • Experiencing a natural disaster
  • Witnessing a traumatic event
  • Being the victim of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • Being the victim of domestic violence
  • Being the victim of a violent crime
understanding more about complex ptsd

Traumatic Events That Cause Complex Trauma

There are many kinds of traumas that can lead to complex PTSD. Some examples of trauma that can cause this condition include:

  • Childhood abuse – is any type of abuse that happens during childhood, such as physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse.
  • Domestic violence – is any kind of violence between family members or intimate partners. It can include physical, sexual, emotional, or financial abuse.
  • Sexual assault – is any kind of nonconsensual sexual contact. This can include rape, molestation, and sexual harassment.
  • War – can lead to complex PTSD because of the exposure to multiple traumas, such as seeing people killed, being injured yourself, or being a prisoner of war.

Differences Between Complex PTSD and Regular PTSD

There are some key differences between complex PTSD and regular PTSD that you should be aware of.

Complex PTSD is usually caused by chronic trauma and is often caused by exposure to multiple traumas, while regular PTSD is usually caused by a single trauma. It can happen after any trauma, while regular PTSD is most often associated with military combat or terrorist attacks.

The symptoms of complex PTSD are often more severe than the symptoms of regular PTSD. This is because complex PTSD is caused by repeated trauma, which can have a more significant impact on your mental health.

What Can Help Reduce Complex PTSD Symptoms

There are many different treatments that can treat PTSD symptoms.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that can help treat complex PTSD by guiding you to change the negative thoughts and beliefs that are associated with complex posttraumatic stress disorder.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of therapy that can help you process and heal from post-traumatic stress disorder.


Medication can be used to treat mental health symptoms of complex PTSD, such as anxiety and depression.

Support Groups

Support groups provide a space for you to share your experiences with other people who have been through similar traumas. This can be helpful to reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness.

If you think you might have c-PTSD, it’s important to seek mental health professionals. Complex PTSD can be a debilitating condition, but treatment can help you manage the symptoms and live a fuller life.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and PTSD

There is a strong link between PTSD and BPD. This is likely due to the fact that both conditions are characterized by difficulties in regulating emotions. People with BPD are more likely to have experienced multiple traumas, which can lead to complex PTSD. In fact, up to 70% of people with BPD also meet the criteria for complex PTSD.

You Can Heal Your C-PTSD

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that can be caused by exposure to multiple traumas. The symptoms of complex PTSD are often more severe than the symptoms of regular PTSD and can include negative thoughts and beliefs, disconnection from others, and a negative self-image.

Fortunately, there are a host of different treatments that can help reduce complex PTSD symptoms, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, medication, and support groups.

At Addcounsel, we provide complete anonymity and offer our services on a ‘one client at a time’ basis. If you think you might have complex PTSD, please reach out to us today; we’re here to help.

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