Complex PTSD is a relatively new diagnosis that is still being studied by researchers. It is often diagnosed in people who have experienced multiple traumatic events, such as childhood abuse, neglect, and/or domestic violence. Complex PTSD symptoms can be very debilitating and can interfere with daily life activities. If you or someone you know is struggling with complex PTSD symptoms, it is important to get help. In this blog post, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of complex PTSD and what you can do to get help.
- 1 Defining Complex PTSD
- 2 Signs and Symptoms of Complex PTSD
- 2.1 Intrusive thoughts
- 2.2 Avoidance
- 2.3 Flashbacks
- 2.4 Negative changes in mood and thinking
- 2.5 Changes in physical and emotional reactions
- 2.6 Isolation
- 2.7 Lack of emotional regulation
- 2.8 Self Esteem Issues
- 2.9 Hypervigilance
- 2.10 Recklessness
- 2.11 Dissociation
- 2.12 Loss of trust and faith
- 2.13 Physical Symptoms
- 3 Managing Complex PTSD Symptoms
- 4 Conclusion
Defining Complex PTSD
Complex PTSD is a type of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It can occur after someone has experienced multiple traumas, such as childhood abuse or neglect, domestic violence, or war. It is also sometimes called “disorders of extreme stress not otherwise specified” (DESNOS).
Complex PTSD differs from typical PTSD in a few key ways:
- People with complex PTSD often have a hard time regulating their emotions. They may feel constantly on edge, irritable, or angry. They may also have problems with impulsivity and self-destructive behaviors.
- People with complex PTSD may have trouble trusting others and may be withdrawn or isolate themselves from social activities. They may also have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships.
- Complex PTSD can lead to problems with your sense of identity and self-worth. You may feel like you’re not good enough or that you don’t deserve happiness.
These differences make complex PTSD a more serious and debilitating condition than typical PTSD. If you are struggling with complex PTSD, it is important to get help from a mental health professional.
Signs and Symptoms of Complex PTSD
Complex PTSD can cause a wide range of physical, psychological, and social symptoms. These symptoms can be divided into four main categories:
People with complex PTSD often have intrusive thoughts about their trauma. They may relive the event in their mind over and over again. They may also have nightmares or flashbacks where they feel like they’re going through the trauma again. This behavior can also manifest as obsessive thinking about the trauma.
People with complex PTSD often try to avoid anything that reminds them of their trauma. This can include people, places, activities, thoughts, or emotions. They may also try to numb themselves with alcohol or drugs. This behavior can also look like “checking” out or dissociating from reality.
Flashbacks are a type of intrusive thought. They are like reliving the trauma in your mind. You may feel like you’re going through the event again, even though it is not happening in the present moment. This can also look like daydreaming or “zoning out.”
Negative changes in mood and thinking
People with complex PTSD often have negative changes in their mood and thinking. They may feel hopeless, helpless, or worthless. They may also have trouble remembering details of the trauma or parts of their life before the trauma. It can also lead to losing interest in activities that they used to enjoy.
Changes in physical and emotional reactions
People with complex PTSD may have a hard time regulating their emotions. They may be easily startled, constantly on edge, or always ready to fight or flee. They may also have problems sleeping, eating, or concentrating. This can also look like irritability, recklessness, or self-destructive behaviors like drinking too much alcohol or using drugs.
One of the most common symptoms of complex PTSD is isolation. People with complex PTSD often withdraw from social activities and relationships. They may feel like they can’t trust anyone or that no one understands them. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and despair.
Lack of emotional regulation
People with complex PTSD often have a hard time regulating their emotions. They may feel constantly on edge, irritable, or angry. They may also have problems with impulsivity and self-destructive behaviors. This can also lead to problems in their personal relationships.
Self Esteem Issues
Complex PTSD can lead to problems with your sense of identity and self-worth. You may feel like you’re not good enough or that you don’t deserve happiness. It can also lead to feelings of impending guilt and blame. This furthers the cycle of isolation and can make it difficult to seek help.
People with complex PTSD are often in a state of hypervigilance. This means that they are always on the lookout for danger. They may be easily startled or have trouble sleeping. This can also lead to problems concentrating and making decisions.
People with complex PTSD may take risks that they wouldn’t normally take. This can include engaging in risky behaviors like substance abuse or driving recklessly. It can also look like self-harm or suicide attempts.
Dissociation is a common symptom of complex PTSD. This is when you feel disconnected from your body or your surroundings. You may feel like you’re watching yourself from outside your body. You may also have periods where you can’t remember what happened during the trauma.
Loss of trust and faith
People with complex PTSD often lose trust in the people around them. They may feel like they can’t trust anyone, even those who are close to them. This can lead to problems in personal relationships. It can also lead to a loss of faith in institutions or systems, such as the government or the medical system.
Complex PTSD can also cause physical symptoms. This can include headaches, stomach problems, and chronic pain. It can also lead to problems with your immune system and an increase in the risk for diseases like heart disease and cancer.
These symptoms can be debilitating and make it difficult to live a normal life. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. With treatment, you can learn to manage your symptoms and live a full and rewarding life.
Please note that complex PTSD is different from PTSD. While both disorders share some symptoms, complex PTSD has its own unique set of symptoms that can be just as severe. If you think you may have complex PTSD, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. Treatment can make a big difference in your life.
Managing Complex PTSD Symptoms
Now that we know what complex PTSD is and what the symptoms are, let’s talk about how to manage them.
One of the most important things you can do is to seek professional help. A mental health professional can help you understand your symptoms and develop a treatment plan.
Some of the most common treatments used by professionals include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: This type of therapy can help you understand your thoughts and behaviors and how they contribute to your symptoms. It can also help you learn new ways of thinking and coping with your symptoms.
- Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy: This type of therapy is specifically designed for treating trauma. It can help you process your trauma and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
- Exposure therapy: This type of therapy can help you confront your fears and learn to manage them. It works by gradually exposing you to the things that trigger your symptoms.
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): This is a specific type of therapy that uses eye movements to help process trauma. EMDR has been shown to be effective in treating complex PTSD.
- Support groups: Support groups can provide you with a sense of community and support. They can also offer practical advice for dealing with your symptoms.
- Medication: Medication can be used to treat some of the symptoms of complex PTSD, such as depression, anxiety, or sleep problems. Medication should always be used in conjunction with therapy. Some of the most effective medicines for PTSD include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
Self Help Strategies
In addition to professional help, there are also things you can do on your own to manage your symptoms. Some self-help strategies that may be helpful include:
- Avoiding triggers: Avoiding things that trigger your symptoms is an important part of managing complex PTSD. Triggers can vary from person to person, but some common triggers include loud noises, crowds, or certain smells or tastes. If you know what your triggers are, it is important to avoid them as much as possible.
- Journaling: Writing about your experiences can help you process them and make sense of them. It can also be a way to express your feelings and emotions.
- Exercise: Exercise can help reduce stress and improve your overall sense of well-being. It can also help improve sleep and increase energy levels.
- Practicing relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, can help you manage stress and anxiety. These work by calming the mind and body.
- Consume a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet can help improve your mood and energy levels. It’s important to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and excessive amounts of caffeine.
- Ensure adequate sleep: Getting enough sleep is crucial for managing stress and improving overall health. Aim for at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs: Alcohol and drugs can worsen symptoms of complex PTSD. If you’re struggling with substance abuse, it’s important to seek help from a treatment program.
Complex PTSD can be a very debilitating disorder, but there is hope. With proper treatment, you can learn to manage your symptoms and live a full and rewarding life. If you think you may have any symptoms, please seek professional help. There are many effective treatments available that can make a big difference in your life. You don’t have to suffer alone. Help is available. Reach out today!
In conclusion, symptoms of complex PTSD is a serious disorder that can have a profound impact on your life. They can make it difficult to function in day-to-day life and can lead to substance abuse and other mental health disorders. However, with proper treatment, you can learn to manage your symptoms and live a fulfilling life. If you think you may be suffering from complex PTSD, please seek professional help. Timely treatment can make a big difference in your life. Don’t suffer in silence!
If you or someone you know is struggling with any of the issues mentioned in this article, please reach out to Mantra Care. We have a team of expert mental health professionals who can help you manage your symptoms and live a fulfilling life. Contact us today to book a session or you can also download our free Android or iOS app.