Complex PTSD: The Consequences of Trauma and Abuse

Since PTSD became an accepted diagnosis, we’ve seen its consequences everywhere from war veterans to crash victims. While the prevalence of post-traumatic stress syndrome isn’t a good thing, at least the knowledge has given a voice to those dealing with it. And with those voices come more avenues for help.

However, complex PTSD isn’t quite as familiar. c-PTSD is a diagnosis given to those suffering from chronic or long-term trauma.

For instance, PTSD could occur after someone sees a violent act occur in front of them. c-PTSD is what happens to those who have been abused for a long time. Both conditions have similar symptoms, but trauma and abuse can have other consequences, too.



Trauma manifests in unique ways for everyone. Some people will spend a few weeks coming to terms with what happened to them, or around them, and then move on. But other people end up with symptoms that last longer than that or are life-altering.

Complex PTSD symptoms can include flashbacks or nightmares in which the individual experiences the event over again. Memories or triggers of the situation can propel the person back in time to their stressful time, and they relive the trauma through their senses.

Another symptom is less obvious but just as difficult to deal with. People with c-PTSD may feel the need to always keep their guard up. The fight-or-flight response in their amygdala has been conditioned to stay alert for danger. This makes the person appear jumpy, and they’ll startle easily.

Because of the pain that goes along with their triggers, people with PTSD or c-PTSD will try everything they can to avoid setting one-off. This includes avoidance of places, but it also could be using drugs and alcohol to forget their problems.

Complex PTSD symptoms also show up as low self-esteem. Those with this condition often blame themselves for their past trauma. Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness are common.

Chances are very strong that someone with c-PTSD will have relationship issues in the future. They have a hard time trusting anyone and are often sad or depressed.

Moving Forward With c-PTSD

If you think you or someone you know has chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, don’t ignore the problem. Get help to overcome PTSD.

Start with scheduling an appointment with your doctor or a mental health counselor. Admitting to the problem is not a sign of weakness. It’s actually a sign of strength; that you are (or your friend is) ready to enjoy life again.

Find ways to learn about living a healthy lifestyle, like reading articles on ConserveHealth and following motivating social media influencers.

Try to set boundaries with those around you who tend to trigger your negative emotions. If they won’t listen to boundaries, you may need to cut them off from your life entirely.

Recovering from c-PTSD isn’t an overnight process. However, with consistency, medical help, and a strong support system, you’ll eventually be able to have more good minutes than bad ones.

You’re not alone in dealing with the fallout of the traumatic event. c-PTSD is a serious condition that countless other people have, too. While your situation is unique, that doesn’t make you “different” or “worthless.” There are organizations and individuals ready to help you begin the journey to living your best life again.

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