Overview of Complex PTSD: Symptoms, Causes, and More

Overview of Complex PTSD

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is caused by a number of traumatic events like natural disasters, car accidents, death of a closed one, violence, abuse, or isolated acts. Complex PTSD comes into the picture when trauma is ongoing and repeated.

Complex PTSD (C-PTSD) is a more intense sibling of PTSD. In this blog, I have covered an overview of Complex PTSD (C-PTSD) which includes symptoms, causes, treatment, and getting the right help. So, let’s get started.

Also Read: PTSD And Trauma: Things to Stop Doing | How to Heal

Difference Between PTSD and C-PTSD

PTSD and C-PTSD are both the results of experiencing something traumatic that causes nightmares, insomnia, or flashbacks. PTSD and C-PTSD make you feel unsafe and intensely afraid of the related danger. Apart from these similarities, there are various differences between PTSD and C-PTSD according to the research.

Difference between PTSD and C-PTSD

The major difference between the two is the defined frequency of the trauma. According to the research, PTSD is caused by the experience of a single traumatic event meanwhile, C-PTSD is developed due to prolonged trauma continuing for months or years. The prolonged timeline of trauma is the major cause of Complex PTSD.

Fact Check: Regardless of age, C-PTSD is mostly the result of childhood trauma.

Developmental or psychological impacts of C-PTSD begin from early life which changes in complex trauma.

Symptoms of C-PTSD:

Apart from the core symptoms of PTSD, there is a difference between the symptoms of C-PTSD. Below mentioned are the common symptoms of C-PTSD.

1. Difficulty In Regulating Emotions

This is the most common symptoms of C-PTSD which also results in:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Persistent sadness
  • Explosive anger
  • Depression

2. Negative Outlooks

C-PTSD throws the person in negative self-light which results in:

  • Helplessness
  • The feeling of ashamed or guilty
  • Loss of self-sense

3. Difficulty In Maintaining Relationships

Due to negative self-view and difficulty in trusting again, it also becomes difficult to manage relationships. It has been observed that people experiencing Complex PTSD are likely towards avoiding relationships because of the past.

4. Detachment

Also, people try to disconnect themselves from reality and detach themselves from the trauma. They start living in this parallel world wherein even they forget the trauma as well.

Related Read: The Subtle Art of Practicing Detachment

5. Loss of systematic meanings

This results in the loss of values, beliefs, hope, and religious faith from people and the world.

Causes of C-PTSD

Causes of C-PTSD

Severe, prolonged, and repetitive abuse or trauma is known to be the major cause of Complex PTSD. It usually takes place from adolescence or childhood which results in lifelong challenges. Some of the common traumatic events causing Complex PTSD are:

  • Genocide campaigns
  • Severe domestic violence
  • Child abuse, abandonment, or neglect
  • Childhood soldiering
  • Slavery
  • Torture

Treatment of C-PTSD

Treatment of C-PTSD

Since DSM-5 has not included C-PTSD in the criteria list, treatment options for C-PTSD are likely to be related to PTSD. Some of the common treatment strategies used for Complex-Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are:

1. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR takes the help of eye movements that are guided by the trained therapist. The eye movements help in processing and reframing the traumatic memories. The process helps in reducing the negative thoughts and feelings related to the traumatic event. Read the full guide of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing from here.

2. Psychotherapy

Psychotherapies of Complex PTSD focus on the identification of negative thinking patterns and related traumatic memories. Psychotherapies also help people in learning coping strategies. Psychotherapy is known to be an effective method for C-PTSD as it also helps reduce the impact of trauma along with self-help strategies.

Looking For Online Therapy?
Drop a mail at info@calmsage.com or check the best online counseling programs to revive the spark of your relationship.

Related Read:
Life Coaching and Psychotherapy: What’s the difference

3. Medications

Medications are generally prescribed by the therapist which helps in reducing the symptoms related to C-PTSD like depression or anxiety. Medications are not prescribed as an individual treatment; medications are mostly combined with psychotherapy.

If you think you or your loved ones are experiencing the symptoms of Complex PTSD or are struggling to cope with the symptoms, Calm Sage strongly recommends booking an appointment with a mental health provider for getting the right help. Also, you can also take help of online services like Betterhelp.

I hope this blog helps you to learn an overview of Complex PTSD. Comment down your queries related to Complex PTSD in the comment section below. For more such content, follow Calm Sage on all social media platforms.

Thanks for reading!

More Interesting Articles:

5 PTSD Treatment Techniques For Your Well-Being

How To Stop PTSD Nightmares & Sleep Peacefully?

Effective Coping Strategies for PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)


  1. James

    C PTSD it's a new term for me thanks for sharing such valuable information

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