What Is C-PTSD?
We have talked about depression, trauma, and PTSD; now we are going to discuss Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). Recently C-PTSD is becoming more recognized in the mental health community.
C-PTSD is caused by repeated trauma over months or years rather than one single traumatic event. It can also evolve from untreated/mistreated depression and PTSD. Though C-PTSD and PTSD are very similar, C-PTSD is considerably different in what is causes, how it manifests in our lives and how it can reshape a person’s entire outlook on life. C-PTSD is our bodies way of keeping us alive in response to chronic traumatization over the course of months, or often years.
C-PTSD is often seen as a result of childhood trauma, however adults can develop it as well when they endure long-term abuses, often by those who claim to love us the most. You may think you are fine, you may think you have compartmentalized it, but trauma has a sneaky way of rearing it’s ugly head when you least expect it. This is why it is so hard to diagnose and not much research has been done on it.
We do know that studies suggest that trauma can have long lasting effects on the amygdala, hippocampus and our prefrontal cortex, the areas of our brain that play a big role in both memory function and how we respond to stressful situations. So it makes sense that our entire outlook on life can change from long-term trauma and C-PTSD can form.
Some Causes Of C-PTSD
- Sexual, physical or emotional abuse, often by a caregiver or someone who claims to love us
- Survivors of human trafficking
- Childhood sexual abuse by a relative
- Being a prisoner of war
- Narcistic abuse
- Ongoing childhood neglect
- Living in an area of constant conflict
Symptoms of C-PTSD
Many symptoms of C-PTSD are similar to PTSD. They include:
- Reliving the traumatic experience over and over in the mind’s eye
- Avoiding certain situations
- Changes in feelings and beliefs about yourself and others
- Hyperarousal – constantly being on alert or jittery, can’t sleep and very easily startled
- Somatic symptoms – feeling dizzy or nauseous
The following symptoms, in addition to the above, are unique to C-PTSD:
- Inability to regulate your emotions – sadness, anger, laughter, tears
- Dissociation – a change in consciousness, feeling completely detached, like you are in a dream
- Negative self-perception – feeling guilt or shame to the point where you feel different from everyone else
- Difficulty with relationships – isolating yourself or over-scheduling
- Distorted perception of abuser – trauma bonding, Stockholm syndrome
- Loss of values and interest in the world around you
These are just a few examples. The truth is that our trauma reactions are unique to each and every one of us, making it very hard to diagnose and to catch. For many years, C-PTSD has been misdiagnosed, more often for borderline personality disorder, causing further trauma to the person.
That is why it is so important to learn about it, understand it and be aware. Because you never know what is going on with someone, unless you are aware of signs.
Thank you for taking the time to read and learn. Please contact me here if you have any questions and let me know your thoughts in the comments! I love hearing from you!
Malibu Mama Loves Xx