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Complex PTSD: Signs You Are Suffering From More Than PTSD

Complex PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder affects people after they go through a painful event such as a car accident, a natural disaster, or the loss of a loved one. Statistics show that 6% of the U.S. population deals with PTSD at some point. Nearly 13 million Americans had the condition in 2020 when the pandemic was at its prime.

The prevalence is comparable in all states, but the numbers are imperatively high in states with more accidents and calamities. Consider the example of Arizona, where more than 65,000 trauma incidents were reported in 2021, with an increase of 12%. Evidently, PTSD rates are high for the state.

Beyond PTSD, complex PTSD is a bigger concern for Americans. CPTSD occurs in people experiencing chronic trauma, such as prolonged domestic violence or child abuse. While the condition is treatable, timely identification and intervention are essential. But most people fail to understand the symptoms in the first place.

Keep reading to learn about the signs indicating the possibility of complex PTSD, and to get resource for support and trauma recovery as well!

The Overlapping Symptoms of PTSD

Research shows that CPTSD is conceptually and clinically different from PTSD because it is attributed to more long-lasting and invasive events. These events are of interpersonal nature, such as intimate partner violence, rape, severe abuse and neglect, war, and refugee trauma. Despite the difference, patients often experience some overlapping symptoms of PTSD. 

These include:

  • Avoiding some situations and activities, such as driving or large crowds
  • Reliving the traumatic experience through repeated nightmares and flashbacks
  • Changes in feelings and beliefs about yourself and others
  • Constant feeling of hyperarousal, leading to sleep deprivation
  • Somatic symptoms such as nausea and dizziness without a medical cause

Overlapping signs can affect the diagnosis and action plan for the treatment of CPTSD. However, behavioral health professionals can rely on an assessment tool for CPTSD symptoms to differentiate and detect the condition.

Catalina Behavioral Health recommends having honest conversations with your provider to help them recognize the early signs of CPTSD and tailor a unique treatment plan. Timely and personalized care can be a game-changer, no matter how complicated a case is.

What are the Additional Symptoms of CPTSD?

Besides the overlapping PTSD symptoms, people suffering from complex PTSD may experience additional symptoms. Since these signs are distinctive, they can help with an accurate diagnosis. 

The following are the red flags you should watch out for:

  • Lack of emotional regulation, with feelings like ongoing sadness or explosive bouts of anger
  • Negative self-perception, such as guilt or shame
  • Changes in consciousness where you may forget the traumatic event or feel detached from your emotions
  • Relationship issues, such as avoiding relationships out of mistrust or seeking relationships with the wrong people who may hurt you
  • Distorted perception of abusers, such as becoming preoccupied with your relationship with them and giving them complete power over your life

CPTSD symptoms are subjective, and they may even vary within one person over time. For instance, you may want to avoid social situations initially and fall for the wrong group of people a few months later.

In many cases, the signs of complex PTSD are similar to those of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). These include impulsive behavior, difficulty forming lasting relationships, and feelings of worthlessness. Despite the similarities, these conditions differ because BPD does not require a traumatic history. Additionally, it develops by young adulthood, while CPTSD is age-independent.

Getting Help for CPTSD

Mental health professionals are still trying to establish a treatment plan for complex PTSD. It is a relatively new diagnosis and not recognized in the DSM-5 yet. The treatment options for the condition include:

  • Talk therapy to encourage patients to process the trauma
  • Exposure therapy creates a safe space where they can face their memories
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) to address thought patterns
  • Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy

Inpatient treatment is another option, specifically in states like Arizona, known for their below-par status on mental health. Patients can look for residential programs in AZ that treat CPTSD as they provide a supportive environment free from distractions.

These programs require patients to stay in treatment centers for a few weeks. During this period, they get intensive therapy, medical treatment, and 24/7 support from counselors and healthcare professionals.

Getting Support to Overcome Complex Trauma

Complex PTSD is a challenging condition to live with, but it can be addressed with timely diagnosis and intervention. Everything boils down to spotting the red flags early and seeking professional help sooner rather than later. 

This comprehensive guide on CPTSD symptoms can show you the way and give you a head start on the road to recovery. Remember, help and proven support programs such as those offered by Catalina Behavioral Health are available for those struggling, and you are not alone.

Stay tuned to for the latest in mental health news that matters to you! 

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