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Understanding complex trauma and its effects
Posted in PTSD, Stress, Trauma - 0 Comments

The United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) defines post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as a mental health problem that develops after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like war, natural disasters, car accident or sexual assault. All these events are time-bound, in the sense that they occur for a limited duration of time. But in some cases, an individual experiences repeated trauma which continues for months or years, at end even after the stressful event is over.

In such conditions, victims generally report additional symptoms, like lack of self-control, changes in self-concept, extreme reactions to stress and personality disorders. Unfortunately, PTSD cannot adequately describe these psychological symptoms and, therefore, a new name, Disorders of Extreme Stress Not Otherwise Specified (DESNOS), is used to refer to this condition. In common parlance, this condition is also known as Complex-PTSD or C-PTSD.

Some types of traumatic situations that may lead to the development of C-PTSD include domestic violence, childhood physical or sexual abuse, slavery or enforced labor, long-term objectification and exposure to continuing crisis situations, among others. Complex trauma faced during childhood may also include neglect and abuse.

C-PTSD manifests as additional symptoms

Further to the symptoms discussed above, individuals who have faced prolonged periods of chronic victimization and being under complete control of another, may experience isolation, persistent sadness, helplessness, guilt and distorted perceptions of the perpetrator.

Individuals exposed to complex trauma may also display poor attention, concentration, decision-making abilities, judgment and high reaction levels. They might even perceive and respond to threatening situations, when there might be none.

Due to the presence of additional symptoms, individuals with chronic trauma are often misdiagnosed as suffering from either PTSD or some other personality disorder. While standard evidence-based PTSD treatments are effective in treating complex trauma, a comprehensive treatment for C-PTSD should address specific individual symptoms and interpersonal difficulties.

Effects of C-PTSD on personality

Complex trauma often translates into a variety of emotional, behavioral, social and interpersonal difficulties that can be lifelong. For individuals with C-PTSD, repeated exposure to trauma early in life, especially in the developmental stage, not only diminishes the ability of their body to return to normal but changes it irrevocably as it is always anticipating or responding to trauma/ danger.

As compared to men, women are particularly vulnerable to the effects of trauma. According to the VA, five out of 10 women undergo a traumatic experience and are twice as more likely to develop PTSD than men. Women experiencing trauma, are more likely to feel depressed, develop PTSD, and start drinking or abusing drugs. Women suffering from C-PTSD may have a chronic fear of abandonment, suffer emotional flashbacks, and experience persistent feelings of shame.

C-PTSD can be treated

PTSD can be easily treated at complex PTSD treatment centers across the U.S. Sovereign Health of Arizona provides specialized care for trauma and abuse survivors. Depending on the history of the patient and the severity of the illness, C-PTSD treatment may involve a combination of medications and psychotherapy along with experiential therapies such as yoga, meditation and expressive arts therapy.

Though women are known to respond better to treatment for complex PTSD compared to men, they generally are reluctant in seeking the same. A leading treatment provider, Sovereign Health’s women only PTSD rehab Arizona, offers comprehensive behavioral health treatment in a safe and supportive environment.

For more information on our holistic treatment programs or to locate our state-of-the-art treatment centers near you, call our 24/7 helpline. You can even chat online with our representatives for immediate assistance.

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