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What is C-PTSD and Who Does It Impact?

What is C-PTSD and Who Does It Impact?
What is C-PTSD and Who Does It Impact?

What is C-PTSD and Who Does It Impact?

The medical world is filled with different acronyms. A lot of people may be familiar with a good chunk of them, but unless you actually are from that world, received education or training, or work in that world today, there will be more acronyms that you won’t know the meaning behind as easily.


These acronyms don’t just stop at one type of disorder either. A lot of disorders have different variations or types, which can change the main acronyms ever so slightly.


C-PTSD is one of these acronyms. While a majority of people in the world may be familiar with the term PTSD, C-PTSD may not be as easily recognized. Let’s learn more about C-PTSD and who it can impact.


What is C-PTSD?

Complex PTSD (C-PTSD) is a type of post-traumatic stress disorder that occurs when a person experiences a continued, repeated, or long-term type of trauma. This type of trauma typically occurs in childhood. When the body and brain experience trauma, one of four things can happen. The body and brain will attempt to defend themselves through the fight-flight, freeze, or fawn approach. The main differences between PTSD and C-PTSD are the symptoms and the amount of time that the trauma occurs.

The Signs and Symptoms

C-PTSD shares a lot of the same signs and symptoms as someone who struggles with C-PTSD. These are some of the most common symptoms of both PTSD and C-PTSD:

  • Avoiding memories, feelings, or thoughts related to the trauma

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Easily startled

  • Emotional outbursts

  • Flashbacks

  • Guilt

  • Headaches

  • Irritability

  • Loss of interest in activities

  • Memory problems

  • Negative thoughts

  • Nightmares

  • Sadness

  • Stomach aches

  • Worry

While C-PTSD shares a lot of the same signs and symptoms as PTSD, PTSD doesn’t share some of the signs and symptoms that occur in an individual with C-PTSD. In fact, one of the main differences between PTSD and C-PTSD lies within the signs and symptoms.

Individuals with C-PTSD may also experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Detachment

  • Difficulty controlling or managing emotions

  • Hopelessness

  • Loss of beliefs, values, faith, or hope

  • Negative view of one’s self

  • Relationship problems

  • Self-esteem issues

Who It Impacts

C-PTSD happens to individuals who have been exposed to a long-term type of trauma. C-PTSD is typically caused when an individual is at a vulnerable age or in a vulnerable state. A lot of C-PTSD forms in childhood and early adolescence. These are some of the most common chronic and long-term traumatic events that can lead to C-PTSD:

  • Abandonment

  • Bullying

  • Captivation

  • Child abuse

  • Child neglect

  • Domestic abuse or violence

  • Genocide

  • Hostage

  • Kidnapping

  • Prisoner of war (POW)

  • Slavery

  • Threats

  • Torture

  • Verbal abuse

C-PTSD is mostly seen in individuals who have gone through a traumatic event in early childhood. While this may be for the majority of people diagnosed with C-PTSD, C-PTSD can also be seen in doctors, firefighters, or EMTs. Their constant exposure to repeated accidents, deaths, disasters, and violence, as well as having to deliver negative or traumatic news to others, can cause C-PTSD as well.

How to Seek Support for C-PTSD

Similar to PTSD, one of the best forms of treatment for an individual struggling with signs and symptoms of C-PTSD is seeking additional support from a licensed and trained mental health professional. The ongoing and prolonged trauma that causes C-PTSD didn’t happen overnight, which means treatment won’t happen overnight either.

The recovery process may take time, but it is possible with the right treatment option. We’re here to help you on your path toward healing. Reach out today to learn more about trauma therapy options and approaches that may be best suited to your wants and needs. Reach out to us today.



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Our team of culturally competent therapists is here to offer a warm and safe space to help you navigate life’s hardships with a sense of encouragement and empathy. Find out more >


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