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What is Complex PTSD?

What is Complex PTSD?

You are likely familiar with the term Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a condition which may occur when someone has experienced a traumatic event. It is often associated with military veterans who’ve experienced the traumas of war, or people who’ve endured an extreme physical or emotional trauma like an assault or rape.

But, what about those who have gone through long-term exposure to a continuing, intense trauma?

If you have endured ongoing trauma, a diagnosis of PTSD may not adequately represent the psychological harm, emotional problems, and changes in how you view yourself and the world around you.

Complex PTSD (C-PTSD)

Mental health professionals recognize there are more layers to the experience of those who have been through long-lasting trauma like childhood sexual or physical abuse, years of domestic violence, or captivity. In cases like these, a PTSD diagnosis partly addresses their condition, but doesn’t adequately define the severity of the psychological harm they’ve endured. A Complex PTSD (C-PTSD) diagnosis encompasses this deeper emotional scarring from longer-term trauma.

The traumatic events associated with Complex PTSD are those which have been experienced over a period of time and typically involve some form of physical or emotional captivity, where the victim has been under the control of someone else.

C-PTSD Symptoms

If you’ve endured a longer-term, extremely traumatic situation, you may experience both physical and emotional symptoms related to your ordeal.

Emotional symptoms may include:

  • Rage displayed through violence, destruction of property, or theft
  • Depression, denial, fear of abandonment, thoughts of suicide, anger issues
  • Low self-esteem, panic attacks, self-loathing
  • Perfectionism, blaming others instead of dealing with a situation, selective memory
  • Loss of faith in humanity, distrust, isolation, inability to form close personal relationships
  • Shame, guilt, focusing on wanting revenge
  • Flashbacks, memory repression, dissociation

Physical symptoms may include:

  • Eating disorders, substance abuse, alcoholism, promiscuity
  • Chronic pain
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems.
  • Migraines

Do you suspect you or someone you love is suffering from C-PTSD? We understand what you’re going through. We can help. Speak with someone right now, confidentially, at (844) 747-7772.

A deeper dive into C-PTSD Symptoms

Many of the quick-list of symptoms above fit into broader symptom groupings you might identify. Are any of these familiar?

  • Emotion Regulation Problems
    People with Complex PTSD experience difficulties managing their emotions. They may experience severe depression, thoughts of suicide, or have difficulties controlling their anger.
  • Changes in Consciousness
    Following exposure to a chronic traumatic event, a person may repress memories of the traumatic event, experience flashbacks, or experience dissociation—a lack of connection or connections with others.
  • Changes in How a Person Views Themselves
    Symptoms in this category include feelings of helplessness, shame, guilt, or feeling detached and different from others.
  • Changes in How the Victim Views the Perpetrator
    A person with Complex PTSD may feel like he or she has no power over a perpetrator (the perpetrator has complete power in a relationship). In Complex PTSD, people might also become preoccupied with their relationship with a perpetrator (for example, constant thoughts of wanting revenge).
  • Changes in Personal Relationships
    These symptoms include problems with relationships, such as isolating oneself or being distrusting of others.
  • Changes in How a Person Views the World
    People exposed to chronic or repeated traumatic events may also lose faith in humanity or have a sense of hopelessness about the future.

We Can Help

Complex PTSD can be a debilitating condition. Those who suffer may be at greater risk of substance abuse or of deliberate self-harm trying to cope with their emotional pain.

Let us offer you help … and hope.

While you cannot change or undo what’s happened in the past, you can change the way you store these experiences and how you react to and feel about them moving forward. Modifying your thinking while developing skills to manage the memories and ripples of that traumatic event will help you heal.

At Honey Lake Clinic, our experienced staff, licensed therapists, psychologists, and psychiatric specialists understand that effective treatment for PTSD and C-PTSD requires a multifaceted approach, involving healing of the mind, body, and spirit. We are here to offer hope and provide answers for you.

Your healthier, happier and more hopeful future can start today with a simple phone call. What are you waiting for? To learn more or get started today, call Honey Lake Clinic (888) 837-6577 Email or Visit