Most people understand the basics of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We often associate it with individuals who have been through a major traumatic event, such as war, a natural disaster, or even an abusive situation.
However, many people are not as familiar with the term complex PTSD.
Complex PTSD occurs when someone has experienced traumatic events over a period of months or years. It can be thought of as “chronic exposure” to such events.
As a result, the signs and symptoms of complex PTSD (C-PTSD)can sometimes be different from those of “traditional” PTSD. Understanding those signs can help you to receive a proper diagnosis and get the help you need.
What are some of the common signs you’re living with complex PTSD?
1. You’re Unable to Control Your Feelings
A lack of emotional regulation is a significant sign of C-PTSD. You might feel extreme sadness at times, which can lead to feelings of hopelessness, or even bouts of anger or rage.
When you feel as though you can’t control your emotions, you might begin to act out in different ways. For example, your anger might cause you to explode at someone you love. Extreme sadness, on the other hand, could lead to longer periods of depression.
Dissociation is a coping mechanism that is not always under our conscious control. It is a feeling of detachment from your emotions, or even your body. As a result, you may not have to feel the feelings associated with the traumatic experience.
Although this helps avoid some painful feelings in the short term, in the long run there are some down sides to dissociation. It is based on removing yourself from reality, and may make the truth of the situation harder to deal with when you are eventually forced to face it.
3. You Have Low Self-Esteem
Have you had a negative perception of yourself ever since the traumatic events in your life occurred? Many people who experience complex PTSD struggle with feelings of shame and hold beliefs that they are not lovable or worthy of the positive things in their lives.
The trauma you experienced over the span of months or years can change the entire way you view yourself and your life. Unfortunately, it may lead to a low opinion of yourself and your various qualities.
4. You Have Trouble With Relationships
If you do have excessive guilt or shame, it can cause you to feel different from everyone else. As you might expect, that can create problems within your relationships. That includes familial relationships, as well as friendships and romantic relationships.
You might feel as though you don’t know how to interact with other people. So, you tend to avoid spending time with them because you’re worried that you’re too different or that you just won’t fit in.
5. Your Beliefs Change
You might find yourself questioning life itself when you deal with C-PTSD. If you follow a certain religion or belief system, those thoughts and feelings can change as you ask yourself why you had to go through something so difficult.
When you can’t find any meaning in the world or your life, it can lead to severe depression, and even thoughts of self-harm or suicide. That sense of despair about the world isn’t good for anyone and can have dire consequences.
It’s important to note that the symptoms of C-PTSD can change and vary for everyone. Anyone recovering from going through traumatic experiences should seek out help as soon as possible. It is a lot to try to handle on your own, and it’s important to get some support when dealing with something so difficult.
Thankfully, there is hope, and there is help available. If you’re living with complex PTSD and you notice the signs, feel free to contact me. It is never too late to heal from the trauma and to start to take back control of your life.