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What sets them apart
While there are a few differences, both forms of PTSD can be very debilitating and life altering. They share many similarities, but there are some very specific things that set the two apart.
Let’s start with PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder. There is some controversy over whether or not it can be classified as a mental illness. From the hours of research I’ve done, I can see where this can be a difficult classification.
On one hand, it can cause serious mental disturbances, and is often accompanied by depression and anxiety. This would validate that medically, it can be seen as a mental illness. On the other hand, depending on the severity, and how quickly treatment is sought, PTSD is curable. It could then be determined as not being considered a disease.
Ultimately, for the person suffering with the symptoms and effects of PTSD, it can be a living nightmare.
PTSD is typically caused by a person experiencing a traumatic event. This could be a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault. Currently, there are considered to be eight criteria to determine a diagnosis of PTSD.
These are just a few things someone can experience with PTSD:
- Feelings of anxiety and panic
- Flashbacks of the event
- Chronic Hypervigilance
- Heightened startle response
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
I’ve included a link to a more detailed list of symptoms below.
Those who are exposed to a traumatic event begin to experience symptoms in the days following the event. For someone to be diagnosed with PTSD, however, symptoms last for more than a month and often persist for months and sometimes years. Typically symptoms will develop within three months of the trauma, but symptoms may appear later.
So, with PTSD, it’s usually a specific event that triggers the disorder to manifest itself. But what about C-PTSD? What makes them different?
Let’s now look at what causes C-PTSD, and what the differences are.
Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder –
With complex post traumatic stress disorder, the main difference is time. While PTSD is caused by a traumatic event with a limited time duration, complex PTSD is just the opposite. Instead, there is chronic trauma, that continues or repeats for months or even years. The current PTSD diagnosis often does not fully capture the severe psychological harm that occurs with prolonged, repeated trauma.
Complex trauma is ongoing or repeated interpersonal trauma, where the victim is traumatized in captivity, and where there is no perceived way to escape. Ongoing child abuse is captivity abuse because the child cannot escape. Domestic violence or forced prostitution/sex trafficking are some other examples.
The impact of complex trauma is very different to a one time or short-lived trauma. The effect of repeated/ongoing trauma – caused by people – changes the brain, and also changes the survivor at a core level. It changes the way survivors view the world, other people and themselves in profound ways.
I’d like to recap and go over what separates PTSD from C-PTSD. This does not minimize either diagnosis. Both are very serious diagnoses and if you believe you or someone you know may be suffering from any of these symptoms, please seek guidance and counseling. I will include a list of resources at the end of this article for you.
Complex PTSD vs. PTSD –
- C-PTSD is linked with severe, ongoing trauma or multiple types of trauma where the victim has no hope of escape. PTSD may be triggered by a brief one-time event such as a car crash, armed attack, or natural disaster.
- C-PTSD has severe symptoms that impair everyday functioning. Symptoms of PTSD may range from mild to severe.
- People with C-PTSD may experience all the symptoms typically associated with PTSD plus additional symptoms.
Getting help for both complex and simple PTSD is so very important. The sooner you reach out and start treatment, the better your chances are to heal. You can get your life back. It won’t be an easy process, and it will take time. But you can get better.
Here is a list of resources for finding the right treatment and help. –
These are just a few of the many resources out there available to you. Please, if you feel you may be suffering, reach out and get help. You deserve to do this, you deserve a chance to heal.