Spotlight on Mental Health

Tawana K Watson

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (a.k.a Complex PTSD or C-PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that involves many of the same symptoms as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (a.k.a PTSD). However, unlike PTSD where the traumatic events are attributed to one instance of trauma, C-PTSD is attributed to multiple instances of trauma mostly happening during a person’s childhood. Also, when looking at the development of C-PTSD within minority populations, racism, poverty, the justice system, and oppression can add an additional layer of trauma to an individual that has experienced ongoing trauma during their early childhood years. The types of long-term traumatic events that can cause C-PTSD include:

  • Child abuse, neglect, or abandonment
  • Domestic violence
  • Genocide
  • Childhood soldiering
  • Torture
  • Racism

Traumatic stress can have a number of effects on the brain and is associated with lasting changes in key areas of the brain, therefore when a person is under the control of another person and does not have the ability to easily escape the stress oftentimes behaviors will manifest as symptoms from C-PTSD. Individuals that suffer from C-PTSD can also share symptoms with other mental health disorders such as borderline personality disorder (BPD), even though BPD doesn’t always have its causes in trauma.

Treatment for C-PTSD is similar to the treatment for PTSD. Medications are often used to reduce the symptoms of C-PTSD (anxiety and depression), along with psychotherapy, which focuses on identifying memories associated with the trauma and negative thought patterns. One form of psychotherapy that is popular in treating C-PTSD is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). This approach uses eye movement to process and reframe traumatic memories under the guidance of a trained therapist. Unfortunately, treatment for C-PTSD can take time, therefore coping skills are a primary way of dealing with the symptoms. Locating a support group, practicing mindfulness, and journaling (a few coping mechanisms) can help and maintain recovery for an individual that is a sufferer of C-PTSD.

If you or someone you love may be dealing with C-PTSD please reach out to to get help finding resources that will help you or your loved one.

Abuse. Ongoing trauma. Low self-esteem. Boxed in by pain. Fragile hearts, broken and darkened.Photo bySusanWilkinson/UnsplasnonUnsplash

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a self-proclaimed journalist writing about past and present true crime, mental health, and things going on in Cleveland.

Cleveland, OH

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