Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or (C-PTSD), can be diagnosed in adults and children who have recurrently experienced some traumatic events, such as abuse, neglect, or violence.
C-PTSD is more severe if:
- The traumatic events occurred early in life;
- The trauma was initiated by a parent or parent care
- The individual experienced the traumatic events for a long time;
- The individual was alone during the trauma, and/or
- There are still contacts with the individual that is responsible for the trauma
It can take many years for the symptoms of complex post-traumatic stress disorder to be recognized, a development of the person, including their self-confidence and behavior, can be changed as they get older.
A person with C-PTSD symptoms can feel separated from people and lose their trust in people.
Symptoms of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The symptoms of C-PTSD can include:
- Feelings of guilt and shame;
- Difficulties controlling the emotions;
- Physical symptoms, such as dizziness, stomach aches, headaches and chest pain;
- Periods of losing concentration and attention (a condition called dissociation);
- Risky or destructive behavior, such as alcohol misuse, drug abuse or self-harm;
- Relationship difficulties;
- Social withdrawal, as avoiding contact with family and friends, and/or
- Suicidal thoughts.
Treating Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
A main symptom of C-PTSD is losing trust in other people. If at all possible, person with C-PTSD is strongly recommended to gradually start doing some regular activities, as:
• Finding friends
• Regular exercise
• Getting a job
• Taking on hobbies
It is significant to try and develop feelings of trust. This process can take some time. However, trusting relationship with a therapist can help treat C- PTSD.
Treatments from a professional can be given in 3 stages, which are described below.
Stabilization is a truly important step in treating C- PTSD. It can involve talking with a professional to learn to lose the feelings of being “disconnected” from the social environment, and to learn how to control the feeling of distrust.
Certain methods, called ‘grounding’ techniques, can help the patient to separate a traumatic or abusive past from the present. Moreover, the aim is to make the past seem like less terrifying and decrease the amounts of the flashback the person usually experiences.
Gradually, a person will start to be less anxious and learn to deal with everyday life.
2. Trauma-Focused Therapy
Trauma-focused therapy can include:
• Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
• Certain types of psychotherapy
• Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
This therapy can help the person to control distressing thoughts. However, these treatments must be approached really carefully in order to avoid making the condition worse.
Reintegration is a final stage of using these skills and methods to develop a better relationship with other people.
Some medications, as antidepressants, can still be recommended if the patient feel unsafe or psychotherapy is not possible.
Treating complex post-traumatic stress disorder usually involves addressing social difficulties and the specific symptoms mentioned above. The recovery from C-PTSD requires restoration of self-control, self-confidence, and trust in other people. As necessary, personal therapy to help self-discovery can be really effective.