Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Complex PTSD (C-PTSD) are two mental health conditions that can develop in response to trauma. While both disorders share some common symptoms, they differ in their severity and complexity. In this article, we will explore the differences between PTSD and C-PTSD, their symptoms, and the therapy treatments available.
What is PTSD?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, assault, or combat. Individuals with PTSD may experience symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, nightmares, avoidance, and hyperarousal. These symptoms can interfere with daily life and lead to significant distress.
What is Complex PTSD?
Complex PTSD (C-PTSD) is a more severe and complex form of PTSD that can develop after prolonged and repeated exposure to trauma. C-PTSD is often associated with childhood abuse, neglect, or domestic violence. Individuals with C-PTSD may experience additional symptoms, such as emotional dysregulation, dissociation, interpersonal difficulties, and a sense of emptiness or shame.
How do PTSD and C-PTSD differ?
PTSD and C-PTSD differ in their severity, complexity, and duration. PTSD is often associated with a single traumatic event, while C-PTSD is associated with prolonged and repeated trauma. C-PTSD is also characterized by a more complex set of symptoms, including emotional dysregulation and a sense of shame or emptiness. Additionally, C-PTSD is often accompanied by other mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
What therapy treatments are available for PTSD and C-PTSD?
There are several therapy treatments available for PTSD and C-PTSD, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT).
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a short-term therapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviours associated with trauma. CBT is an evidence-based therapy that has been shown to be effective in treating PTSD and C-PTSD.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy that involves the use of eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation to help individuals process traumatic memories. EMDR has been shown to be effective in treating PTSD and C-PTSD.
Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is another therapy treatment that can be effective in treating both PTSD and C-PTSD. EFT works by tapping on specific meridian points on the body while focusing on the traumatic experience or negative emotion. The tapping stimulates the body’s energy system and helps to release negative emotions, allowing the individual to feel a sense of emotional freedom and relief.
In addition to therapy treatments, medication can also be prescribed to help manage symptoms of PTSD and C-PTSD, such as depression and anxiety.
In conclusion, PTSD and C-PTSD are two mental health conditions that can develop in response to trauma. While both disorders share some common symptoms, they differ in their severity and complexity. There are several therapy treatments available for PTSD and C-PTSD, including CBT, EMDR, and EFT, as well as medication. If you or someone you know is struggling with the aftermath of trauma, it is important to seek the guidance of a trained mental health professional to explore the best treatment options available. Freedom from your traumatic “baggage” is more obtainable than you think.
Author: Christopher Lee, B Psych Science (Hons); Masters of Psych (Clinical); MAPS
Christopher Lee is a Brisbane psychologist with a keen interest in helping teenagers and young adults with trauma, behavioural and relational issues. In addition to speaking English, Cantonese and Mandarin fluently, Christopher uses evidence-based therapy techniques such as CBT, ACT, EFT, and DBT.