What Is Complex Trauma & How Does It Develop? CPTSD Symptoms, Signs & Treatment

You may be offered therapies for treating post-traumatic stress disorder if you have complex trauma. Read more about the causes, signs, and treatment for C PTSD.

What is CPTSD? What is Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

CPTSD stands for complex post-traumatic stress disorder. It is a long-term mental health condition caused by traumatic events over months or years versus a single event. Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (c-PTSD) is an anxiety condition with the same symptoms as PTSD but with other symptoms.

Complex Trauma Symptoms (CPTSD Symptoms) In-depth

CPTSD symptoms range from disruptions in emotions and thoughts, such as depression, anxiety, self-hatred, and guilt; disruptions in actions and behaviors, such as extreme reactivity, numbness, and bad relationships; changes in physiology, and general life changes, such as difficulties with work or school, and a feeling of lack of control.

Emotional CPTSD Symptoms include:

  • mood swings, difficulty in trusting others.
  • avoidance behaviors.
  • flashbacks, nightmares, difficulty concentrating.
  • intrusive memories, and.
  • feeling a general sense of hopelessness.

Physical CPTSD Symptoms include:

  • headaches, chronic pain, muscle tension.
  • dizziness.
  • sleep disruption, fatigue.
  • chest pains and.
  • stomach aches.

Suicidal ideation is a severe and dangerous cPTSD symptom. If you are experiencing regular suicidal feelings, seeking help from a mental health professional is vital.


PTSD and C-PTSD result from deeply traumatic events, which may produce flashbacks, nightmares, and insomnia. Both conditions can also make you feel greatly unsafe and afraid when any danger has passed.

The main difference is the frequency of the trauma. While a one-time traumatic occurrence causes PTSD, C-PTSD is caused by long-lasting trauma that persists or may repeat for months or years, referred to as “complex trauma.”

Unlike PTSD, C-PTSD is generally the result of childhood trauma. The emotional developmental effects of complex trauma in childhood are often much more excruciating than the single trauma situations. CPTSD accounts for the vast, longer-lasting outcomes of prolonged, repeated traumas that can last years.


  • One-time trauma.
  • Trauma encountered at any age.
  • Typically milder vs. C-PTSD.


  • Driven by long-term, repeated traumas.
  • Commonly stems from childhood incidents.
  • This often happens to people suffering from oppression, racism, and confinement.
  • Much more severe vs. PTSD.

Symptoms of CPTSD vs PTSD differ in that CPTSD symptoms can be more severe and intense. Trauma can produce anger, including C-PTSD explosive anger, persistent sadness, and despair. However, in addition to these symptoms, complex trauma or CPTSD symptoms can include:

  • Becoming preoccupied with revenge or, conversely, giving total power to the perpetrator.
  • Episodes of feeling detached from one’s body or mental processes.
  • Isolation, guilt, shame, or a feeling of being different from other people.
  • Helplessness and feeling hopeless.
  • Distrust.
  • Self-harm, self-mutilation.
  • Alcoholism, substance abuse.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Change in personal self-concept.
Complex trauma survivors think they're broken. CPTSD, or complex trauma, is believed to be caused by severe, repetitive abuse over a long period.
C-PTSD survivors think they’re broken. CPTSD, is believed to be caused by severe, repetitive abuse over a long period.

Definition of Complex Trauma

Complex trauma or CPTSD describes a person’s exposure to multiple traumatic events, often of an invasive, interpersonal nature, and the wide-ranging, long-term effects of this exposure. These CPTSD events, such as abuse or profound neglect, are severe and pervasive. They usually occur early in life and can disrupt many aspects of the child’s development and the formation of a sense of self. Since CPTSD events often occur with a caregiver, they interfere with the child’s ability to form a secure attachment. Many aspects of a person’s healthy physical and mental development rely on this primary source of safety and stability.

Childhood trauma has been strongly linked to depression, substance use disorder, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental health disorders present in adulthood.

Complex Trauma Symptoms (CPTSD Symptoms) In-depth

Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) can cause many types of symptoms. These can include disruptions in emotions and thoughts, such as depression, anxiety, self-hatred, and guilt; disruptions in actions and behaviors, such as extreme reactivity, numbness, and impaired relationships; changes in physiology, such as insomnia, headaches, and fatigue; and general life changes, such as difficulties with work or school, trust issues, and a feeling of lack of control.

Continue below for more about complex trauma symptoms.

C-PTSD Diagnosis

CPTSD can be challenging to diagnose since people regularly show both symptoms of PTSD and other stress-related symptoms that point to other illnesses. Moreover, the symptoms of CPTSD can be varied and long-lasting, making it difficult to assess, diagnose and treat. Treatment for CPTSD typically includes therapy, medication, and lifestyle interventions like yoga, meditation, and relaxation exercises. It can be a long process to find relief from CPTSD symptoms, but with the proper treatment, people can make strides toward healing and recovery.

cPTSD can be confused with other mental health conditions such as major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), or personality disorders. Talking to a mental health professional to receive a proper diagnosis is essential.

CPTSD Causes

Researchers are still figuring out how traumatic stress affects the brain and leads to conditions like CPTSD. However, studies on animals show that trauma can have lasting effects on the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. These areas significantly affect our memory function and response to stressful situations.

Any long-term trauma, over several months or years, can lead to CPTSD. However, it appears frequently in people who’ve been abused by someone who was supposed to be their caregiver or protector. Examples include survivors of human trafficking or ongoing childhood sexual abuse by a relative.

However, reports indicate C-PTSD is caused by enduring or reliving traumatic experiences, such as physical or emotional abuse, violence, and exploitation, being in a traumatic environment, and being exposed to a natural disaster or other traumatic events. People in an abusive environment may develop C-PTSD due to their exposure to frightening, uncertain, and unpredictable situations. The body’s stress response can become associated with the person’s experiences, leading to the development of C-PTSD.

Living With C-PTSD

Patients with C-PTSD report various behaviors in addition to the fundamental PTSD symptoms. C-PTSD can cause vivid emotional memories that make it challenging to regulate feelings that could otherwise lead to severe melancholy, suicidal thoughts, or trouble handling rage.

Coping with Complex Trauma

Coping with complex trauma can be difficult, but there are ways to make it easier. The first and most crucial step is to find a therapist who specializes in trauma and has the necessary training to assist in healing from C-PTSD. Yoga, mindfulness, and nature walks can help calm and heal. Practicing self-compassion is essential, as it can help rebuild trust and provide comfort. Finally, reaching out to family and friends can help you cope.

Healing from Complex Traumas

Healing from complex trauma can be challenging, but it is possible. One of the most important steps is to find a therapist specializing in trauma therapy and specialized training in treating C-PTSD. Additionally, engaging in supportive activities like yoga, mindfulness, and nature walks can provide a sense of calm and healing. It is also important to practice self-compassion, as it can help to rebuild trust and provide comfort.

“What is CPTSD? CPTSD Symptoms & Causes” Infographic

Many mental health professionals do recognize complex trauma as a particular condition because the traditional symptoms of PTSD do not fully capture some of the unique characteristics shown in people who have experienced repeated trauma.
Many mental health professionals recognize complex trauma or C-PTSD as a particular condition because the classic symptoms of PTSD do not fully capture some of the unique characteristics shown in people who have experienced repeated trauma.

What is Complex Trauma (C-PTSD), or What is CPTSD?

Most people are familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an anxiety disorder that results from a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster or car accident. However, a closely related condition called complex post-traumatic stress disorder or CPTSD is becoming more widely recognized by doctors in recent years. CPTSD results from repeated trauma over months or years rather than a single event.

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What are CPTSD Symptoms? Symptoms of Complex Trauma.

The symptoms of CPTSD usually include those of PTSD, plus an additional set of symptoms. Common CPTSD symptoms include flashbacks, intrusive thoughts and images, nightmares, difficulties concentrating, and increased anxiety and fear.

In addition to all of the primary symptoms of PTSD, C-PTSD symptoms also include:

  • Hardship managing feelings. It’s typical for someone suffering from C-PTSD to lose control over their emotions, which can display explosive anger, ongoing sadness, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
  • Negative self-esteem. C-PTSD can drive one to regard themselves in a negative connotation. They may feel helpless, guilty, or embarrassed. They usually have a feeling of being different from others.
  • Hardship managing relationships. Relationships may decline due to problems trusting others and a negative self-view. Someone with C-PTSD may sidestep relationships or develop unhealthy relationships because that is what they learned in the past.
  • Detachment from the trauma. Someone may disconnect from themselves (depersonalization) and the world around them (derealisation). Some individuals may even forget their traumas.
  • Loss of a core of beliefs. This can include losing one’s core beliefs, values, religious convictions, or hope in the world and others.

These symptoms can be life-altering and cause significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational, or other vital areas of life.

Moreover, PTSD symptoms may include physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, nausea, and stomach aches. Other CPTSD symptoms are avoidance, dissociation, numbing, negative self-image, and an inability to trust others. CPTSD symptoms can also lead to dramatic behavioral changes, such as isolation, avoidance, impulsiveness, and self-destructive behavior.

Other examples of long-term CPTSD symptoms of intensive trauma include:

  • Ongoing physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
  • Being a prisoner of war.
  • Living in an area of war for long periods.
  • Ongoing childhood neglect.
Common Symptoms of PTSD

CPTSD symptoms like reliving the traumatic experience can involve having nightmares or flashbacks resulting in:

You may have heard of post-traumatic stress syndrome or PTSD, but you may not be familiar with Complex Trauma, sometimes known as c-PTSD.
You may have heard of post-traumatic stress syndrome or PTSD, but you may not be familiar with Complex Trauma, sometimes known as C-PTSD. The most common CPTSD symptom is avoidance. This can include avoidance of people, places, activities, or conversations that can trigger symptoms like flashbacks or intense emotions.
  • Avoiding certain situations: You might avoid situations or activities, such as large crowds or driving, that remind you of the traumatic event. This also includes keeping yourself preoccupied to avoid thinking about the event.
  • Changes in beliefs and feelings about yourself and others can consist of avoiding relationships with others, not being able to trust others, or believing the world is dangerous.
  • Hyperarousal: Hyperarousal refers to constantly being on alert or jittery. For example, you might have a hard time sleeping or concentrating. You might also be unusually startled by loud or unexpected noises.
  • Somatic symptoms: These refer to physical symptoms that don’t have any underlying medical cause. For example, when something reminds you of a traumatic event, you might feel dizzy or nauseous.
  • C-PTSD intrusive thoughts: Flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts that bring back the traumatic incident are the most typical PTSD symptoms. This may result in the person experiencing physical reactions such as headaches, chills, heart palpitations, panic attacks, and feelings of anxiety, guilt, or terror.
Typical Symptoms of CPTSD

People with CPTSD typically have the above PTSD symptoms along with additional symptoms, including:

  • Lack of emotional regulation refers to having uncontrollable feelings, such as explosive anger or ongoing sadness.
  • Conscious changes can include forgetting the traumatic event or feeling detached from your emotions or body, also called dissociation.
  • Negative self-perception: You may feel guilt or shame to the point that you feel entirely different.
  • Difficulty with relationships: You might find yourself avoiding relationships with others out of mistrust or not knowing how to interact with others. On the other hand, some might seek relationships with people who harm them because it feels familiar.
  • Distorted perception of the abuser: This includes becoming preoccupied with the relationship between you and your abuser. It can also distract you with revenge or give your abuser complete power over your life.
  • Loss of systems of meanings: Systems of meaning refer to your religion or beliefs about the world. For example, you might lose faith in your long-held beliefs or develop a strong sense of despair or hopelessness about the world.
  • CPTSD Episodes: The amygdala doesn’t forget anything deemed dangerous and doesn’t discern whether the threat is real or imagined. This plays a significant role in untreated PTSD.

People with CPTSD symptoms may also experience difficulty in relationships as they may be unable to trust others, leading to problems with intimacy or bonding. Additionally, people with CPTSD symptoms may struggle to regulate their emotions, leading to angry outbursts, suicidal thoughts, or prolonged depression. Furthermore, they may experience behavioral changes such as self-harm or substance abuse.

It’s important to note that symptoms of both PTSD and CPTSD can vary widely between people and even within one person over time. For example, you might avoid social situations for some time, only to start seeking potentially dangerous situations months or years later.

If you’re close to someone with CPTSD, it’s also important to remember that their thoughts and beliefs might not always match up with their emotions. They might know that, logically, they should avoid their abuser. However, they might also hold onto a sense of affection toward them.

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Chronic vs Complex-Trauma & CPTSD vs PTSD Statistics

Chronic trauma refers to trauma following a series of events (unlike acute trauma, which refers to a single event). These events have happened multiple times, including experiences such as prolonged child abuse, prolonged exposure to war and combat, and repeated sexual abuse. Complex trauma is exposure to varied and multiple traumatic events, often of an invasive, interpersonal nature. Complex trauma refers to experiencing chronic trauma with long-term emotional and physical symptoms. 

According to the National Center for PTSD, people with CPTSD are more likely to experience PTSD symptoms for more extended periods of time and symptoms of depression or anxiety. They are also more likely to be hospitalized for mental health issues. Additionally, people with CPTSD are more likely to suffer from chronic physical symptoms such as migraines and to have a history of abuse, neglect, or other trauma-related experiences.


61% of men and 51% of women report at least one traumatic event in their lifetimes.

Source: SAMHSA


CPTSD affects up to 8% of the population and is up to 50% prevalent among those who receive treatment in mental health facilities.

Source: SAMHSA


Nearly 30% of incidences of mental disorders were found to be associated with adversities and trauma in childhood.

Source: SAMHSA

CPTSD and Dissociation Disorder Facts

CPTSD stands for complex post-traumatic stress disorder. It is a mental health condition caused by experiencing or being a witness to a traumatic event. People with CPTSD have difficulty processing the traumatic event and are frequently triggered by reminders of the event. Symptoms of CPTSD include flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, difficulty sleeping and focusing, hypervigilance, and avoidance of reminders of the trauma. Treatments for CPTSD typically include therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.

CPTSD disorder arises from multiple exposures to trauma. Trauma, an event involving the danger of death, serious injury, or sexual violation, is a significant risk factor for mental illness.

CPTSD Definition

Descriptions of trauma-related mental illness primarily originated from investigations of people exposed to traumas that occurred in adulthood (e.g., military combat) and/or in single instances (e.g., disasters).

These descriptions led to the definition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which informs assessment and treatment after all traumas. However, clinical observations have suggested that more ‘complex’ types of trauma – a traumatic experience involving multiple events with interpersonal threats during childhood or adolescence (e.g., repeated child abuse) – might result in more severe outcomes than other ‘non-complex’ traumas.

CPTSD Diagnosis

These clinical observations have become very influential in clinical practice, leading to proposed new diagnoses linked with C-PTSD exposure, such as intense trauma episodes.

When someone develops C-PTSD and dissociation, it is their mind’s way of coping with an intensely traumatic experience. But this development does not resolve the trauma; it brings distressing and confusing symptoms that stand in the way of a fulfilling life.

Complex trauma examples which may lead to a dissociative disorder include physical abuse, sexual abuse, severe neglect, and emotional abuse.

CPTSD vs PTSD Compared

C-PTSD is a type of PTSD with more intense and long-lasting symptoms. It is often caused by prolonged or repeated trauma, such as abuse, neglect, or multiple traumatic events. When comparing CPTSD vs PTSD, professionals distinguish the heightened level of intense emotions people feel with a CPTSD vs PTSD diagnosis. People suffering from C-PTSD may have more intense and prolonged symptoms of PTSD, such as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, and depressed moods. They are also more likely to suffer from chronic physical symptoms such as migraines and to have a history of abuse, neglect, or other trauma-related experiences.

C-PTSD can lead to difficulties in personal functioning, such as difficulty forming relationships or attachments or functioning effectively in everyday life. Sufferers will often experience a sense of being emotionally numb or disconnected from their emotions and experiences. They may also experience difficulty regulating their emotions and will often withdraw into themselves cope. C-PTSD can also lead to guilt and shame, with sufferers feeling like something is wrong with them or that they have done something wrong. Sufferers may also experience fear, anxiety, anger, and irritability.

The National Center for PTSD has a fact sheet on C-PTSD available on its website. The fact sheet covers C-PTSD basics, including C-PTSD signs and symptoms, causes, and treatments. You can also find additional resources and links to more information on C-PTSD on the National Center for PTSD website.

CPTSD Treatment

Treatment for CPTSD often requires a combination of therapies, medications, and lifestyle changes to find relief. The best treatment for CPTSD is generally recognized as Cognitive behavioral therapy, a typical therapy used to help people with CPTSD identify the triggers of their symptoms and develop healthier coping strategies. Mindfulness therapies, such as dialectical behavior therapy, can also help individuals become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and develop a healthier relationship with their emotions.

Medication is also a useful option for managing symptoms. Medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers can help lessen the intensity of symptoms and improve sleep, mood, and overall functioning. Along with therapy and medication, lifestyle modifications can also improve symptoms. Relaxation activities such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation can be beneficial in helping to manage intense emotions.

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What is Complex-Trauma (CPTSD)? Clinical Definition of Complex Trauma Disorder.

What is complex trauma disorder? To define complex trauma, we must understand that trauma can come in many forms. The soldier returning from active duty in a war zone, the child who lives with physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or neglect, the first responder who must deal with suffering humans daily, and the adult who endures domestic abuse all are experiencing trauma.

C-PTSD occurs repeatedly and often involves direct harm to the victim. Its effects are cumulative and generally transpire in a specific setting and, frequently, within a particular time frame or a clear relationship.

Going through trauma can make an individual experience intense guilt. It’s a feeling as if they are somehow responsible for the event(s) that are so terrifying to them. This altered sense of shame and painful self-perception is crippling. It can make the person feel isolated and hopeless to the point they are no longer in charge of themselves.

A closely related condition called complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) is becoming more widely recognized by doctors in recent years.
What is CPTSD or complex trauma? A closely related condition to PTSD called complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) is becoming more widely recognized by doctors in recent years. Doctors define CPTSD vs PTSD based on more severe and intense multiple negative events in childhood, usually by a caregiver, that leads to complex trauma disorders.

Complex Childhood Trauma or Complex Developmental Trauma

Complex PTSD childhood trauma is brought on by a string of persistent, frequently “invisible” experiences of maltreatment, abuse, neglect, and circumstances over which the kid has little to no control or any sense of hope to be rescued.

These people acquire “hidden traumas” from growing up in a setting full of unpredictability, danger, inconsistent parenting, or emotional desertion. These disruptions affect these people’s neurological, emotional, and psychological development. We refer to these hidden traumas as childhood C-PTSD.

Complex Childhood Trauma in Adults. Complex Trauma Symptoms in Adults.

What is complex trauma in adults? Complex childhood trauma significantly impacts the anxiety, sadness, and relational issues that many adults endure. It might be challenging for adults dealing with these mental health symptoms to comprehend the role played by childhood wounds.

Trauma is intricate. It can sometimes be traced to events like battle trauma, abuse, or accidents. Because it may not be limited to a single event and is frequently neglected, childhood trauma Outcomes of these experiences can have enduring impacts on a person’s life, including symptoms connected to Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD).

C-PTSD and Autism

How does autism compare to CPTSD? While the symptoms of autism and CPTSD are similar, the underlying causes of these behaviors are distinct. ASD begins early in childhood and occurs during the neurological system’s development. CPTSD, on the other hand, emerges in response to a traumatic event.

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What is a CPTSD? Video

We’ll take a deep dive into this often misunderstood condition, offering you a comprehensive guide to help you better understand CPTSD and its impact on individuals’ lives.

CPTSD, or Complex PTSD, is a long-term mental health condition that arises from prolonged exposure to traumatic events.

What is a CPTSD Episode?

A PTSD episode is marked by flashbacks, shocking, vivid memories of a traumatic, intense incident in your past, and feelings of anxiety and panic. These memories frequently come with sensory impressions; the incident’s sights, sounds, and scents could resurface as if they were happening now. When you sense danger approaching, your brain will enter an alarm state, causing your pulse to accelerate, you to sweat abundantly, and your breathing to quicken. The sensation is overwhelming, powerful, and even crippling.

C PTSD Quiz. Do I Have C PTSD?

The C PTSD Trauma Questionnaire is a 70-item scale for the retrospective assessment of multi-type maltreatment, measuring lack of care (physical and emotional neglect), abuse (psychological, physical, and sexual abuse), and other traumatic experiences, such as rejection, role reversal, exposure to domestic violence, separations, and losses.

The instrument is available in two different versions, clinician and self-report. The questionnaire assesses adverse experiences from childhood to usage of 14 years separately involving maternal, paternal, and other attachment figures. The clinician version, compiled by the first and the third author, requires approximately 15–20 min to complete (depending on the length of the interview’s transcript). The software automatically scores the presence and frequency of traumatic experiences in each domain.

The domains of C PTSD tests include attachment, biology, affect regulation, dissociation (i.e., alterations in consciousness), behavioral regulation, cognition, and self-concept. Clinicians must provide C PTSD diagnosis training and assessments with expertise in PTSD treatment.

C PTSD comes with its own set of signals, including:

  • Self-Esteem Issues.
  • Feelings Of Shame And Guilt.
  • Lack Of Trust.
  • Relationship Problems.
  • Physical Pain.
  • Self-Harm.
  • Suicidal Thoughts.

Emotional dysfunction is a severe sign of complicated PTSD. Patients frequently have high-stress thresholds and suffer from retaliatory fury. They experience severe depressive episodes and are unable to experience joy.

According to a significant study, 93.5% of CPTSD sufferers felt unworthy, and 92.2% felt guilty about the incident. However, only 20.8% of those with PTSD reported feeling worthless, and 43.1% reported feeling guilty. This difference illustrates how trauma is handled differently within the two diseases.

The same study revealed that impulsivity was more common in people with CPTSD. They also exhibited more significant irritability, mood swings, and paranoia.

Complex Trauma vs PTSD (CPTSD vs PTSD)

You may experience PTSD after a single traumatic event, but CPTSD is often linked to ongoing or repeated traumas.

For example, events that may lead to PTSD include:

  • A serious accident
  • An instance of physical or sexual assault
  • A traumatic childbirth experience, such as losing a baby
  • A severe health problem that may have required being in intensive care

On the other hand, events that may cause CPTSD to include (examples of complex trauma):

  • Experiencing abuse or neglect as a child
  • Ongoing domestic violence
  • Repeatedly bearing witness to violence or abuse
  • Torture or kidnapping

Overall, you are more likely to experience CPTSD instead of PTSD if the trauma:

  • Occurred at an early age
  • Was it inflicted by someone close to you?
  • Was inflicted by someone who you continue to have to see regularly

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Complex Trauma Residential Treatment (Complex Trauma Treatment)

C PTSD therapy utilizes several modalities to address different symptoms. The current method for treating complex trauma combines talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and exposure therapy.

According to Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk, medical director and founder of the Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute and professor of psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine, the current treatment for complex trauma only deals with one aspect – the memory portion. And, while treating the memory is helpful, it isn’t enough. Moreover, “Tim Fletcher complex trauma” coaching and programs mentioned that CPTSD is an actual or realized ongoing experience during childhood that repeatedly causes individuals to feel unsafe or unloved. 

Because trauma also impacts the portion of the brain responsible for survival, a person who suffers from C PTSD either becomes numb (hypo-aroused) to the trauma or hyper-react to the slightest hint of danger. According to “Bessel Van Der Kolk complex trauma” notes, “In the long term, the largest problem of being traumatized is that it’s hard to feel that anything that’s going on around you matters. It is difficult to love, take care of people, and get involved in pleasure and engagements because your brain has been reorganized to deal with danger.”

Since C PTSD affects the conscious and unconscious portions of the brain, we must also work to heal the unconscious. Recently, we have found that body-oriented approaches such as yoga, mindfulness, and EMDR can help the body and mind reconnect. The adult assessment should be conducted by a clinically trained provider who understands the development and C PTSD. Ideally, the examination should involve a multi-disciplinary team.

In 2014, the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) funded a study on the effects of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) on adults with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After this study, Dr. Van Der Kolk reported that “the facts are that the EMDR complex trauma study was spectacularly successful in adults” to awaken a person’s sensory modality to help them feel pleasure and engagement.

In addition, neurofeedback (a type of biofeedback that focuses on brain waves) has shown promise in helping patients with C PTSD learn to change the activity of their brain waves to help them become calmer, more self-observant, and better able to engage with others.

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Healing from Complex Trauma

You gain control of your reactions by restoring self-awareness and learning to focus on what’s happening between your rational and emotional brains.  Dr. Van Der Kolk states, “People get better by befriending themselves. People can leave the trauma behind if they learn to feel safe in their bodies—they can feel the pleasure of knowing what they know and feel what they feel. The brain does change because of trauma, and now we have tools to help people be quiet and present versus hijacked by the past.”

CPTSD triggers

You may have triggers in the form of images, sounds, odors, or even thoughts that in some way conjure up the traumatic incident. A clear PTSD trigger might be watching a news broadcast on an incident. Others lack clarity. For instance, you might feel angry if the sky is vivid blue after being attacked on a sunny day.

CPTSD Therapist

So far, treatment for both post-traumatic stress disorder and complicated post-traumatic stress disorder has been remarkably similar. Post-traumatic stress disorder is typically treated with trauma-focused psychotherapies, such as cognitive processing therapy (CPT) and sustained exposure (PE).

Trauma patients who receive cognitive processing treatment learn to reframe their unfavorable perceptions of what transpired during the traumatic event. CPT entails victims discussing negative ideas with a therapist and completing brief writing assignments to alter their version of what happened.

Prolonged exposure therapy (PE) teaches people with PTSD to regain control by discussing the trauma while receiving treatment. Clients will be urged to undertake what they have shied away from during treatment. Victims’ brains will become less sensitive due to this deliberate exposure to triggers, which will calm their fight/flight/freeze response.

The way therapists use to treat C PTSD differs significantly frequently. They might practice eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Talking to a therapist about cognitive-behavioral therapy will assist one in staying away from unpleasant experiences in the past. To help the client recover from the trauma, they will replace those memories with fresh ways of thinking.

For both CPTSD and PTSD, EMDR is a viable therapeutic approach. By employing eye movements to analyze and deal with the emotions and memories that arise throughout treatment, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy assists those diagnosed with CPTSD.

When using EMDR, the trauma must be recalled while paying particular attention to a back-and-forth finger movement or a repeating sound. It has been discovered that remembering while moving helps the brain become less sensitive to past trauma.

Are you struggling with chronic trauma or complex betrayal trauma? Are you looking for a "complex trauma treatment center Boston, New jersey, Texas, or Florida?" Contact We Level Up FL mental health treatment center for treatment resources.
Are you struggling with chronic trauma or complex betrayal trauma? Are you looking for a “complex trauma treatment center Boston, New Jersey, Texas, or Florida?” Contact We Level Up FL mental health treatment center for treatment resources near you.

Living with CPTSD

Dorsal vagal complex and trauma describe how C PTSD affects one person to feel helpless. The vagus nerve’s Dorsal vagal responds to cues of danger. It moves us away from connection and into protection. When we experience a cue of extreme risk or life threat, we can shut down and feel numb or frozen. We have moved into a dorsal vagal state.

The vagus nerve regulates internal organ functions, such as digestion, heart rate, respiratory rate, vasomotor activity, and specific reflex actions, such as coughing, sneezing, swallowing, and vomiting.

CPTSD is a severe mental health condition that can take some time to treat and lifelong for many people. However, combining therapy and medication can help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. If starting treatment sounds overwhelming, consider joining a support group in person or online first. Sharing your experience with people in similar situations is often the first step toward recovery.

Reclaim Your Life from C PTSD

We Level Up Florida Treatment Center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals to help you cope. In addition, we work as an integrated team providing information about the complex trauma and other aspects of treatment. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Programs, services, and treatments vary. We Level Up rehab facilities do not provide EMDR therapy. Because patient stability should come before EMDR treatment, EMDR therapy to process trauma for patients actively drinking and abusing drugs should await their stability phase of treatment. EMDR phases 3 – 8 therapy is best enacted for patients that feel and experience a safer, trustful connection with their treatment team.

We Level Up rehab centers treat all behavioral health disorders, including related secondary illnesses, to improve long-term recovery outcomes. Get a free substance abuse and mental health assessment and determine the treatment options that most suit you. Call to learn more.

Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.

Top 5 Complex Trauma Assessment for Adults Questions

  1. How long does EMDR take for complex trauma?

    Each individual reacts differently to EMDR therapy, but as a general rule, a typical session will last anywhere between 60-90 minutes. Getting to the bottom of a traumatic memory and completely rewiring your brain can take three to twelve sessions.

  2. What is another term for complex trauma?

    Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD, sometimes abbreviated to c-PTSD or CPTSD) is a condition where you experience some symptoms of PTSD along with some additional symptoms, such as difficulty controlling your emotions.

  3. How to get complex trauma certification?

    To qualify for Certified Clinical Trauma Professional certification, an applicant must have helped treat complex trauma in five clients for at least six months. Further, an applicant must have had at least 10 hours of consultation and supervision in these cases.

  4. What is complex relational trauma?

    Complex relational trauma is repeated mistreatment that an individual suffers at someone else’s hands. It profoundly impacts how the victim develops relationships and their emotional, psychological, behavioral, and physical health.

  5. Where to locate complex trauma therapist near me?

    There is a wide range of choices in the US for CPTSD treatment, and We Level Up FL mental health treatment center is intended to help narrow your search to find the best help available in your area. Call us today for more information.

Search We Level Up FL C PTSD Mental Health Topics & Resources

[1] Brady KT, Back SE. Childhood trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder, and alcohol dependence. Alcohol Res. 2012;34(4):408-13. PMID: 23584107; PMCID: PMC3860395.

[2] The National Center for PTSD. (2017). PTSD and DSM-5.

[3] The National Center for PTSD. (2015). Symptoms of PTSD.

[4] The National Center for PTSD. (2016). Complex PTSD.

[5] Taycan O et al. (2015). An alternative approach to the effects of multiple traumas: Complex post-traumatic stress disorder.

[6] Controversy Over Repressed Memories – Office of Justice Programs

[7] Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – National Institute of Mental health

[8] De Bellis MD, Zisk A. The biological effects of childhood trauma. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2014 Apr;23(2):185-222, vii. DOI: 10.1016/j.chc.2014.01.002. Epub 2014 Feb 16. PMID: 24656576; PMCID: PMC3968319.

[9] Kleber RJ. Trauma and Public Mental Health: A Focused Review. Front Psychiatry. 2019 Jun 25;10:451. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00451. PMID: 31293461; PMCID: PMC6603306.

[10] We Level Up – Mental Health » Trauma Treatment