Warning: This blog is written to create more awareness on mental health disorders and is not for purpose of self-diagnosis.

What is PTSD?

After a traumatic incident, such as a natural disaster, a car crash or a violent attack, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop. Even if they were not personally affected, PTSD can develop in people who have observed horrible events. Because of the large number of World War II troops who had PTSD after returning home, this psychiatric disease is also known as combat fatigue.

Living with PTSD brings up a lot of strong emotions and thoughts. The individual may have distressing flashbacks, nightmares, and a sense of being cut off from others. People with PTSD become reclusive and have intense reactions to specific things, such as loud noises.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex PTSD (C-PTSD) are both mental health illnesses that can arise after witnessing violence or being sexually assaulted. However, there are a few key distinctions in how the illnesses develop and how best to treat them.

What is C-PTSD?

The most significant distinction between the two illnesses is the frequency of trauma. While PTSD is brought on by a single traumatic event, Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is brought on by a long-term trauma that lasts months or even years (commonly referred to as “complex trauma”). Examples are bullying, neglect by parents, sexual abuse and physical abuse.

Unlike PTSD, which can develop regardless of what age you are when the trauma occurred, C-PTSD is typically the result of childhood trauma.

Complex trauma experienced by individuals may be worsened by the negative effects of oppression and racism. Complex trauma early in life has psychological and developmental implications that are typically more severe than a single traumatic event and so different, in fact, that many experts believe the PTSD diagnostic criteria don’t sufficiently represent the wide-ranging, long-term consequences of C-PTSD.

Symptoms PTSD vs C-PTSD

The symptoms of PTSD include the following:
  • Reliving the traumatic experience through flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive recollections
  • Avoiding people, places, or thoughts that bring up memories of the traumatic event
  • Feeling alienated from other people and experiencing overpowering negative feelings
  • Feeling tense and irritable, being easily startled, or having trouble concentrating or sleeping
C-PTSD symptoms are comparable to those of PTSD, however they can also include:
  • a strong sense of mistrust for the world
  • Feeling hopeless and powerless all of the time
  • Difficulty controlling emotions
  • Physical symptoms like stomach aches, headaches, chestpains
  • avoiding developing friendships and relationships
  • Experiencing symptoms of dissociation
  • Having suicidal thoughts on a regular basis

If left untreated, PTSD and CPTSD are mental health illnesses that can severely disrupt your life. However, there are various therapy methods available to help you recover from the long-term impacts of trauma. Ask your doctor for an evaluation or a referral to a trauma specialist if you experience symptoms but aren’t sure if you have PTSD or CPTSD.

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