Complex PTSD

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Complex post-traumatic stress disorder is a more severe form of PTSD that develops after repeated trauma that continues for months or years at a time. A car accident is one event but in complex PTSD it is usually multiple and repeated events.

The types of traumatic events that can cause complex PTSD include:

  • Repeatedly witnessing violence or any form of abuse
  • childhood abuse, abandonment or even neglect
  • chronic domestic violence or domestic abuse
  • torture or kidnapping

You are more likely to develop complex PTSD if:

  • you experienced trauma at an early age
  • the trauma lasted for a long time
  • escape or rescue was impossible or very unlikely (prisoner of war)
  • you have experienced multiple traumas (sexual abuse and now in a new relationship with domestic violence)
  • Being harmed by someone very close to you (trust)

Complex PTSD can have additional symptoms such as:

  • difficulty controlling your emotions and behavior (impulsivity, sexually acting out, self destructive behavior, drugs and/or alcohol misuse)
  • feeling very angry or distrustful towards the world
  • constant feelings of hopelessness or being empty
  • feeling as if you are permanently damaged, worthless and an altered view of personal identity
  • feeling as if you are completely different compared to other people
  • feeling like nobody can understand what you endured
  • avoiding friendships, relationships or having chaotic personal relationships
  • often experiencing dissociative symptoms such as depersonalization or derealization
  • physical symptoms, such as headaches, Shortness of Breath, vertigo, dizziness, chest pains and stomach aches
  • regular suicidal feelings


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