While many people may be familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), they may not know as much about complex PTSD. Complex PTSD (CPTSD), as the name suggests, is a condition that can be more severe than PTSD. It can affect people similarly but has other characteristics that set it apart. As we take a closer look at complex PTSD, its symptoms, and causes, we’ll also examine how complex PTSD treatment in Scottsdale can help those experiencing this type of stress.
What is Complex PTSD?
Complex PTSD is a condition that arises from a series of traumatic events that happen over time or one prolonged event.1 The symptoms can be similar to those who experience PTSD, but they are typically more intense and last longer. Statistics show that CPTSD affects up to 8% of the population.1
PTSD vs. Complex PTSD
PTSD is a prevalent condition, with statistics showing that about 12 million people in the U.S. have PTSD during a given year.2 PTSD usually occurs after one traumatic event, such as a sexual assault or a car crash. It is a clinically-diagnosed condition.
Since complex PTSD is a response to long-lasting trauma, it is most often seen in people who experienced some type of trauma early in their lives during their childhood or adolescence.
Causes of Complex PTSD
Those with CPTSD are often hurt by a caregiver. CPTSD risk factors involve chronic exposure to trauma that can include:3
- Sexual, Physical, and Emotional Abuse
- Sex Trafficking and Exploitation
If anyone was the victim of any of the above situations, they may find themselves at risk for CPTSD.
Symptoms of Complex PTSD
The symptoms of complex PTSD are similar to those of PTSD, which can sometimes make it difficult to diagnose. They can include:1
- A loss of trust in others and themselves
- Believing the world is a dangerous place
- Dizziness or nausea when thinking about the trauma
- Trouble sleeping or concentrating
- Avoiding situations that remind a person of the trauma
- Always being in a heightened state of alert
While these symptoms can be seen in those with PTSD and CPTSD, people who suffer from complex PTSD may also experience:4
Trouble Regulating Emotions
People can lose control over their emotions and experience intense anger or sadness or have suicidal thoughts.
A person can view themselves negatively and feel helpless, ashamed, or guilty.
Difficulty with Relationships
A person may avoid relationships with others because they don’t trust them or don’t know how to interact with them.
Detaching Themselves from the Trauma
Some people who survive a traumatic event may experience complete amnesia about what happened.
Preoccupation with the Abuser
Those suffering from CPTSD may become obsessed with the abuser and about getting revenge.
Symptoms of complex PTSD can vary from patient to patient, depending on their circumstances and the traumatic event.
Complex PTSD Triggers
People suffering from CPTSD can have triggers that are stimulated by images, smells, or situations that remind them of their trauma. They may feel as though they are reliving the traumatic events. This can lead to a fight-or-flight response by the amygdala, which is responsible for processing emotions in the brain.1 The situation that triggers a person can be random and vary depending on the trauma they experienced.
Coping with Complex PTSD
When someone has CPTSD, they may show certain behaviors to try to manage their symptoms. These include:1
- Lashing out at Minor Criticisms
- Extreme Avoidance of Unpleasant Situations
To recover from CPTSD, it’s important to seek treatment to learn how to replace these types of behaviors with ones that will help in the healing process. Without the proper treatment, these types of behaviors can become extremely dangerous and lead to serious problems.
How is Complex PTSD Diagnosed?
CPTSD can be difficult to diagnose as doctors may believe you have PTSD rather than CPTSD.5 While there is no specific test to determine whether someone has CPTSD, you should keep a record of your symptoms so that your doctor can make the most accurate diagnosis. Knowing when your symptoms started and changes in behavior can also be helpful.
Also, be aware of symptoms that interfere with daily life and responsibilities. When this happens, your doctor may look at your history and the traumatic events you experienced to determine whether you have CPTSD.
What are the Options for Complex PTSD Treatment in Scottsdale?
Treatments to deal with complex post-traumatic stress can vary from patient to patient. Some patients may benefit from one treatment, while others will benefit from a combination. These types of treatments can include:5
EMDR is commonly used to treat PTSD and can be helpful for those with CPTSD as well. During this type of complex PTSD treatment in Scottsdale, you’ll be asked to think about a traumatic moment while moving your eyes from side to side. You may also have someone tap on your hands instead of moving your eyes. While repeating this type of therapy, the process can help you to become desensitized to traumatic events and memories.
This type of therapy works on the thoughts that trauma gets trapped in the body, leading to PTSD.
Psychotherapy can include talking to a therapist in a group or alone. It can also include cognitive behavioral therapy. This process helps to identify negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones.
Some healthcare providers may prescribe medications to treat people with CPTSD. These are typically medications used to treat depression. They can work well with other types of treatment for CPTSD.
Start Complex PTSD Treatment in Scottsdale
At Healing Foundations Center, we provide complex PTSD treatment in Scottsdale. Our facility specializes in treating trauma-related disorders, such as CPTSD. We have the necessary experiences to help people deal with traumas that arise from various issues, such as abuse and neglect.
Our team offers both individual therapy and intensive outpatient programming, depending on the needs of each individual. We use various techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR, and somatic experiencing. We can help you find the right combination of treatments that work best for you as you work to overcome your complex traumatic stress.
For more information on our treatments for complex PTSD, call Healing Foundations Center today or contact us online. Discover how we can help you recover from the trauma that has impacted your life.