Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD or CPTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop in people who have experienced repeated and sustained traumatic events. These events may include physical, sexual or emotional abuse, neglect, domestic violence, war or torture. Complex PTSD can be very debilitating and can affect every area of a person’s life.
CPTSD is particularly prevalent in adults who experienced prolonged and repeated abuse as children. This may be due to the fact that childhood abuse can interrupt the development of a healthy sense of self, leading to problems with regulating emotions and behaviour later in life.
In fact adult children of narcissists (ACoNs) often struggle with CPTSD due to the constant ambient abuse they grew up in. Their lives as children were blighted by the manipulative tactics of their narcissistic parent. These include gaslighting, triangulation, abuse by proxy and a myriad other narcissistic abuse tactics from the narcissist’s toolkit.
However, it is not only related to childhood abuse. Complex post-traumatic stress disorder is also common in people who experienced domestic violence, war or torture.
Symptoms of CPTSD
People with CPTSD often find it difficult to trust others and may isolate themselves from friends and family. They experience trauma triggers and have problems regulating their emotions and behaviour. They are also hypervigilant and on edge, as if they are in danger, which leads them to be excessively irritable or aggressive. This makes it very difficult for them to maintain relationships and jobs.
People with complex PTSD often have intrusive memories or flashbacks of the traumatic events. They often struggle with nightmares and panic attacks. There is a very strong link between CPTSD and other mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders and substance abuse.
Treating Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the treatment of CPTSD. However, there are some treatment options that you might want to consider. These include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (TF-CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR) and mindfulness meditation. It is important that any treatment plan is tailored to the individual, taking into consideration their particular circumstances and needs.
For Further Reading
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder – What Is PTSD, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
- Complex PTSD (CPTSD): Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
- The Linen Cupboard Metaphor – Traumatic Memories and PTSD
- Can You Get PTSD From Narcissistic Abuse? The Toxic Impact of the Narcissist
- PTSD Awareness Month – Everything You Need to Know About PTSD
- PTSD in Men: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
- Adverse Childhood Experiences and PTSD: What’s the Connection?
- What is a Trauma Trigger and What Does Being “Triggered” Mean?
- Hypervigilance: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
- 7 Signs Complex Trauma Is Impairing Your Relationship
- Everything You Need to Know About CPTSD – Here Are the Signs and Symptoms (often misspelled as Symtoms)
- What is the Meaning of CPTSD – The Reality Behind the Disorder
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