Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that can affect people who have lived through a frightening or upsetting event, thus sending their instinctive danger response into high gear. PTSD victims struggle with intrusive thoughts and memories, and often change their behavior in ways that allow them to avoid potential triggers. Additionally, some trauma survivors exhibit a more severe form of this disorder known as complex PTSD.
Understanding the Difference Between PTSD and CPSTD
While PTSD can result from a one-time occurrence such as a car accident, complex trauma tends to develop after a series of inescapable, life-threatening events that take place over several months or years. Examples of experiences that can lead to complex PTSD include domestic abuse and serving in combat.
Often, the psychological and developmental consequences of complex trauma are more severe than those that result from a single traumatic experience. That’s why many mental health professionals suggest that the current PTSD diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM-5-TR don’t sufficiently describe the long-lasting effects of CPTSD.
How Does Complex Trauma Affect Your Overall Health?
Since the brain responds to trauma by going into permanent fight-or-flight mode, trauma survivors are frequently tense, anxious and on edge, even in comfortable surroundings with no threats present. Startling easily and having concentration and memory problems are hallmarks of PTSD and CPTSD. You may also have insomnia and physical effects such as body aches, headaches and digestive problems.
Ultimately, the cumulative effects of CPTSD symptoms can be life-altering and cause significant impairment, affecting your relationships and ability to find and keep a fulfilling job.
Complex PTSD frequently co-occurs with other mental health issues like anxiety and depression. It also overlaps with addiction, as people may use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate their severe symptoms. A dual diagnosis will perpetuate itself in a vicious cycle that makes you feel much worse.
CPTSD Diagnosis and Treatment
Since there is not a specific diagnostic test to determine the difference between PTSD and CPTSD, keep a journal of your triggers, symptoms and their severity so you can describe them to your doctor or psychiatrist.
Some complex PTSD symptoms, like depersonalization, can resemble the characteristics of borderline personality disorder, and a health professional can screen you to rule out similar conditions and get you on a treatment regimen.
Complex PTSD and co-occurring addiction are treatable, and evidence shows that simultaneously addressing mental health conditions and substance use provides the best outcomes. If you’re grappling with a dual diagnosis, a therapist can teach you healthier coping mechanisms to replace drug and alcohol abuse. You may also benefit from enrolling in a residential treatment program, where you can fully focus on your health and well-being.
Why Come to PACE Recovery Center?
At PACE Recovery Center, our treatment philosophy integrates thoroughly researched and clinically proven approaches. Our premier Orange County facility provides residential and outpatient treatment for co-occurring substance use and behavioral health disorders. In our single-gender program, men with complex conditions can benefit from being in a structured environment with 24/7 care and supervision. To learn more, please reach out to our experienced admissions counselors today.