Traumatic single events can leave people feeling the effects for a long time, but long periods of abuse or trauma can have an even more disastrous effect. While similar, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex post traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) are now considered unique conditions, and it's important to differentiate between the two.
At 2nd Chance Treatment Center, with locations in Phoenix, Glendale, and Gilbert, Arizona, our trained doctors and care staff fully understand the effects of different types of trauma. In this blog, they discuss the differences between PTSD and C-PTSD and how you can get help if you suffer from either.
PTSD and C-PTSD
Complex post-traumatic stress disorder is a form of PTSD that results from repeated trauma over time, often beginning in childhood or existing throughout the lifespan of a relationship.
Many people with PTSD experience a singular event that leaves them traumatized, but long periods of trauma can have different effects on the brain and behavior. People with C-PTSD can experience symptoms associated with typical PTSD, such as:
- Avoidance of certain situations
- Feeling dizzy or nauseated in triggering situations
- Flashbacks and nightmares
- Distrust of other people or the world in general
However, C-PTSD can also manifest with many additional symptoms, including:
- Guilt and shame
- Feeling “different” from other people
- Having a distorted view of abuse
- Being drawn to abusive people
- Avoiding relationships with others
- Feelings of hopelessness and despair
- Uncontrollable feelings of anger or sadness
Being abused repeatedly can also cause you to seek out abuse from others, since that treatment is familiar to you. You could also be preoccupied with revenge or feel compelled to give your abuser power over your life.
However, this isn’t true of all C-PTSD sufferers. You could behave in the opposite way, avoiding relationships entirely out of fear and distrust. Every case is unique and complex, just like the condition itself.
Kinds of trauma that can lead to C-PTSD
While many traumatic events, such as car accidents and assaults, have a clear beginning and ending, abusive situations can be ongoing for years or decades. This can cause victims to adapt their behaviors and personality in unhealthy ways just to survive.
C-PTSD is most common in those who have experienced long-term abuse, such as:
- Victims of human trafficking
- Prisoners of war
- Those living in active war zones
- Victims of childhood neglect
- Those who have experienced periods of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse by a partner, family member, or abductor
The most important part of getting treated for C-PTSD is finding a doctor who understands the disorder. C-PTSD and PTSD have only been established as separate conditions recently, and some doctors might mistake your symptoms for that of PTSD, rather than its complex variant.
The treatment for C-PTSD is similar to PTSD, but it requires treatment from a specialist who understands the effects of long-term trauma and can target your specific experiences and identify your triggers.
Your treatment plan may involve any of the following:
- Working with a therapist
- Going to group therapy
- Receiving cognitive behavioral therapy
- Receiving eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) treatment
Many people with C-PTSD struggle to stop “surviving” and begin “living.” Getting help can give you the skills and support you need to make the switch. If you suspect you’re suffering from C-PTSD, book an appointment online or over the phone with 2nd Chance Treatment Center today.