We all have heard about PTSD, which results from adversities and haunts soldiers, victims of abusers, and other people who lived through something shocking. However, besides PTSD proper, which usually follows some terrible event, there is the so-called complex PTSD caused by long-term suffering. The latter is rarely discussed, but it should be.Complex PTSD, which is often abbreviated to C-PTSD, differs from PTSD in that the latter develops after a single traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, assault or something else, whereas C-PTSD is the result of the impact of a persisting factor that induces severe stress. Since it is a prolonged trauma that causes the disorder, chances are more people are affected by it than it can be estimated now. Being abused for a long time, domestic violence, staying in a zone where assaults are common, and suffering due to other reasons all have the potential to lead to the problem in question. PTSD is being extensively studied, but C-PTSD has not received enough attention yet, probably because it is a relatively new diagnosis. But it is just as important to research it, given how many people may actually suffer from it (it goes without saying that rare diseases are no less important either, so no preference here). C-PTSD was included in DSM-5 in 2015, but even before that it had been diagnosed relatively often.
C-PTSD symptomsThe way C-PTSD manifests itself are similar to those of PTSD, but they are accompanied by other symptoms which are not observed in patients with the latter.
- Reliving the trauma. The events that led you to develop the disorder may be often evoked in your mind and make you panic or dissociate. Such flashbacks are very difficult to control. Another form of it is nightmares.
- Patients with PTSD usually avoid places and activities that evoke the memories about the person or thing that caused the trauma. They may also try to keep their brain focused on something to prevent it from thinking about the stressful events or things associated with them.
- You become constantly anxious, easily startled by unexpected sounds, and develop sleep problems.
- Unlike the symptoms above, this one is characteristic of complex PTSD. The patient finds it hard to realize that everything around is real, and becomes detached. Such symptoms include depersonalization and derealization. The environment may be difficult to “grasp”, it seems unreal and foggy, you feel as if you were someone else, and the body you feel is not yours.
- Feeling guilt. Patients with C-PTSD may also develop negative self-perception and start feeling guilt for what happened to them.