PTSD vs Complex PTSD

Looking after your mental wellbeing should always be a priority, and this is particularly the case when yourself or someone else that you know is struggling from either PTSD or Complex PTSD (C-PTSD). Being able to properly understand and differentiate between the two can certainly be useful so that you can be sure that you or a loved one is treated in the correct manner. 

In order to receive the optimum treatment it is important to distinguish between the two. 

What Is PTSD? 

A lot of the time PTSD can be triggered when you are subjected to a traumatic event in your life. This might be witnessing a horrific accident, working in the Armed Forces or seeing someone you love die. It can usually be attributed to a one off event in your life that has not happened before which can bring on a number of symptoms as you try to cope with the scenario you just witnessed. 

How Do I Know I Have PTSD and What Symptoms Should I Look Out For? 

Though everyone can deal with traumatic events in a different manner, there are some typical symptoms that you may experience when you are affected by PTSD. 

When you start feeling very anxious at the mere memory of what you witnessed or start to have vivid nightmares of the event, it can begin to affect your ability to cope on a day to day basis. This can lead you to struggle with everyday tasks that you would usually find very simple. 

You may start to experience feelings of regret or guilt that you were not able to help as much as you could, or you try to block out certain images of the event because you want to forget what happened. You might notice that your mood is very low and you feel unmotivated to do even the simplest of tasks or have extreme feelings of irritability and sudden bursts of anger

Common Causes of PTSD 

The symptoms that you experience of PTSD are typically brought on by the one off event and is your body’s way of trying to deal with a situation that is not a typical everyday scenario for you. Common events which can trigger symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Serious car injury 
  • A close relative dying 
  • Effect of a natural disaster which includes injury or death
  • Graphic sexually violent act
  • Terrorist event
  • War scenes

There may of course be other scenarios which can affect your ability to cope but these tend to be the more common causes of PTSD

What Is Complex PTSD? 

In comparison to PTSD, Complex PTSD is slightly different. The trauma and struggle that you feel is typically brought on by continuous events and not just a one off scenario, It can occur for many months or even years. This could be a scenario whereby you experience a lot of psychological and physical abuse. 

What Can Trigger Complex PTSD? 

The symptoms of Complex PTSD can usually be attributed to ongoing events in your life that cause you to be constantly exposed to uncomfortable and traumatic scenarios. It could be being sexually abused as a child, sex trafficking or being tortured in a prisoner of war scenerio. The trauma that you experience is repeated frequently unlike typical symptoms of PTSD. So you constantly have to relive and deal with the trauma. It can be more difficult to break out of this continuous cycle. 

What Are Typical Symptoms of Complex PTSD? 

Your emotions are likely to be all over the place as you try to deal with the continuous physical and psychological abuse that you have experienced. You might start to have feelings of guilt that the situation was somehow caused by something that you personally did. You could be emotional one minute, then angry or depressed the next. 

You might experience moments of amnesia whereby you cannot recall certain moments of the trauma or end up re-living it again and again, finding it impossible to forget. 

It can then cause you to have an altered perspective on reality by accepting that what you experienced was perfectly normal behavior. 

This is a typical scenario whereby someone who has been exposed to years of sexual abuse will deem this as normal behaviour and is likely to experience this again with another partner because they believe that is how they should be treated. 

What Treatment Plans Are Available for Both PTSD and Complex PTSD and Do They Differ? 

When you are treated for either PTSD or Complex PTSD it is likely that you will be offered medication, counseling or a mixture of both. This helps to ensure that your emotions are stabilized through medicine and that you are able to talk through your psychological trauma with a professional counselor to help you overcome things. A combination of the two can be an effective treatment plan to help you deal with PTSD or Complex PTSD.

If you suffer from Complex PTSD you are likely to need longer term treatment through counseling or prescribed medication such as Antidepressants, to help you overcome your trauma and find coping mechanisms to be able to live as normal life as possible. The treatment plan tends to be longer because there is a lot more trauma to deal with compared to experiencing a one off event with PTSD.

 It is likely that you will also be offered EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) whereby helpful mindful techniques and cognitive therapy is utilized to help you manage your symptoms and deal with your trauma through counseling sessions. 

Finding the right counselor is important so that you can effectively find a useful treatment plan that is going to help you overcome your PTSD or Complex PTSD

It is very important to get the care that you need when you are suffering with PTSD or Complex PTSD so that you are no longer having to deal with the ongoing physical or psychological trauma, which can be very isolating and upsetting. Getting in contact with a professional therapist as soon as possible can be an effective solution so that you no longer have to suffer alone.  

Trauma Counseling in Lakewood & Longmont CO

If you are experiencing PTSD or C-PTSD symptoms, we invite you to call us at 720-551-4553 for a free 20-minute phone consultation with a therapy specialist or click to learn more about our EMDR counseling and Trauma therapy.

Self Care Impact Counseling envisions a new age of counseling for adolescents, adults, couples & groups that makes a REAL difference with core values of GROWTH | BALANCE | COMPASSION | INNER HARMONY.