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Post written by Kailey MarcAurele
Many people already know about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but not many people are familiar with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD).
While PTSD results from a single traumatic event, CPTSD is a result of repeated trauma over months or years. These traumas are often “invisible” and harder to see than a single traumatic event like an accident. These hidden traumas can have lasting negative effects on the brain.
CPTSD is still a relatively new condition, so some doctors aren’t aware of it. In fact, I was diagnosed with PTSD, but I think it’s really CPTSD. I checked off all of the boxes when it came to the symptoms of PTSD. The only problem is I didn’t have any tragic events in my life. It was from repeated trauma. That repeated trauma was enough to cause me to have symptoms of PTSD.
Despite being a relatively new condition, CPTSD is starting to become more widely recognized by doctors.
The symptoms of CPTSD overlap with those of PTSD, but there are additional symptoms that come with CPTSD.
People who have CPTSD usually have the PTSD symptoms listed above as well as these additional symptoms:
As mentioned above, complex PTSD is typically a result of repeated trauma over several months or years.
Repeated and long-term trauma include:
These repeated traumas can have lasting effects on the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the prefrontal cortex. These areas of the brain play a large role in our memory function and how we respond to stressful situations.
Below are treatment options for complex PTSD:
This involves talking with a therapist either alone or in a group. Typically, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is used. This type of therapy helps you identify negative thought patterns and gives you the tools to replace them with healthier, positive thoughts.
EMDR systematically allows you to process traumatic material and resolve lingering emotional, mental, and somatic distress.
Medication can help manage complex post-traumatic stress disorder. However, medication works best when combined with another form of treatment. Typically, medications traditionally used to treat depression are prescribed. Some antidepressants used for CPTSD are:
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