PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and C-PTSD (Complex PTSD) are “sibling” conditions that both fall under the category of “disorders specifically associated with stress.” Many people confuse the two and may not understand the distinctions between them; some have even labeled C-PTSD as “PTSD but more complex.” In some cases, this is true, but there is more to both conditions than that (since PTSD is complex in and of itself). Here’s what you need to know about PTSD and C-PTSD.
Differences and Similarities in Treatment Options
When looking at both C-PTSD and ptsd treatment options, one treatment option they have in common is EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). The process involves moving the eyes in a specific way while processing traumatic memories. For C-PTSD, it will take more time to prepare for EMDR therapy, and sessions might take more time as well.
For C-PTSD, there are some additional therapies to help the individual create supportive relationships with other people, to address feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and healthily manage strong emotions. This is because people with C-PTSD have been living with it for a longer period of time, so it has entwined itself around their understanding of the world around them.
Differences and Similarities in Symptoms
PTSD and C-PTSD do share some symptoms that can make an original diagnosis difficult. These symptoms include:
- Avoiding people, places, or thoughts that remind you of a traumatic event
- Re-experiencing the trauma through flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive memories
- Feeling irritable or always on edge
- Changes in mood and thinking, including overwhelming negative emotions
C-PTSD has three additional categories of symptoms that make it more complex than PTSD. These include:
- Difficulties in controlling their emotions, resulting in explosive anger, suicidal thoughts, depression, and persistent sadness.
- An impaired sense of self-worth, feelings of hopelessness, and problems with self-esteem
- Interpersonal problems, such as having difficulties with relationships, preoccupation with an abuser, and having difficulty trusting others.
Differences and Similarities in Causes
Both PTSD and C-PTSD are caused by traumatic events taking place in a person’s life. PTSD usually arises from a single event of trauma, while C-PTSD develops from repeated or multiple forms of traumatic events. It can occur after long-term trauma, during the early stage of development, or were abused by someone they thought they could trust.
However, these definitions are not typically true for every case: there are some people who only develop PTSD after enduring multiple traumas, while another person who experiences one trauma may develop C-PTSD. It is entirely dependent on each individual.
The overlapping of symptoms can result in confusion between the two disorders, especially because C-PTSD is still a relatively new condition. Many people with PTSD and/or C-PTSD will have experienced some stigma or feelings of isolation talking about their condition with others. However, it’s important to realize that you’re not alone. If you recognize these symptoms within yourself or someone else, it’s important that you speak to a medical professional so that you can start getting the help that you need.