Therapist Explains Complex PTSD

I think you already know what PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder is. It is a mental health condition that a lot of people developed after witnessing or experiencing any life-threatening, dangerous, or scary event. Anxiety and depression become extreme with it too. There are cases that an individual who experiences it also endures panic attacks and flashbacks as well. There are quite a few physical reactions, too, such as muscle tension, sweating, and increased heart rate. But, how about complex PTSD? What is it, and how does a therapist differentiate it from the usual PTSD we know?


A lot of us may question what exactly PTSD brings in our lives. Well, no one can genuinely capture the severity of its psychological harm, not unless there is a repeated and prolonged trauma that occurs. However, what most of us did not know is that post-traumatic stress disorder can also come from a single terrible life event that happens repeatedly. Yes, the existence of the condition does not have to develop from multiple stressful or depressing situations. It can be a specific moment where the psychological and emotional aspects get damaged severely. It is where when someone experience being scared, worried, and helpless all at the same time, in one particular event that gets prolonged.

PTSD And The Complex State

PTSD can be mild, moderate, and severe. And the most common thing that can lead to its complex state is experiencing war and coming back from it. That is because most people who are in the warzone feel different emotions at the same time almost every day. They are worried and anxious about things that are there and not there. Sometimes they tend to create an imaginary scenario where things are different from their heads in comparison to reality. Indeed some of them may return home physically and emotionally stable. However, in most cases, the effects of complex PTSD occur slowly. And in due time, the symptoms get worse, and individuals find it extremely hard to go back to their regular selves.


The case of complex PTSD in the warzone is typical. That is because even though most veterans and soldiers know what they signed up for, they are still afraid of losing their lives. That if people think they are brave enough to offer their services, they are honestly chilling inside. Every time they attempt to leave their camp and present themselves in a risky situation, these people know they can lose their lives instantly. And the most devastating part is that they watch a lot of people die in front of them. The particular scenario happens over and over again, which makes it a repeated trauma they have to endure.

Other cases of complex PTSD also comes from different situations such as in prostitution brothels, child physical and sexual abuse, long period of domestic violence, and even in concentration camps. What is more devastating to know is people’s incapability to handle repeated trauma vs. one situation. A lot of time, those who are emotionally and mentally healthy individuals can get through painful experience because it can only happen once. But those who appear trapped in a situation where the life-threatening event is ongoing, it becomes a burden.


What Entirely Happens To Them?

Better managing emotions is not manageable, especially when people are in a complicated mental state. That is somehow due to their feelings getting too overwhelming. So those individuals with complex PTSD appear to get weighed down with their emotions real quick. That explains why all of a sudden, they are aggressive and sometimes way too angry at nothing in particular. They cry and feel sad but then can become happy in an instant. There is no regulation of emotion going on, that is why sometimes therapy doesn’t entirely help at all. There are also cases that these mentally ill people get blacked out. It is the state where they forget the traumatic event that happened in their life. But once they get to experience it again, it would feel like reliving the whole thing over again.

A person with PTSD who appears seemingly normal honestly needs more attention compared to those who are showing significant signs. It is essential to remember that not because people tell us they are over with the pain from past trauma, they are now okay.  That doesn’t mean they no longer need psychological assistance. These people are struggling, and they sometimes do not know it. With that, the best thing we can do is understand their situations and do our best to help them at all cost.