Complex trauma is a very important concept that needs to be more widely understood and properly addressed. When you hear the word trauma or the phrase Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), you probably think about people who have been in extraordinary situations, such as soldiers returning from battle, 9/11 first responders, or accident survivors. However, there is another kind of trauma that affects millions of people.
What is complex trauma?
Complex trauma happens when a person suffers repeated abuse at the hands of a loved one or authority figure. The cumulative impact of multiple individual incidents creates a unique form of trauma that can be devastating. When the victim is a child, this can have severe effects on his or her development. Often the child will form patterns of behavior to deal with their experiences that will cripple them throughout their adult life. Child abuse, neglect or repeated exposure to domestic violence often results in complex trauma. Even commonplace situations, though, like being bullied repeatedly by a teacher can have major effects on the brain. Sufferers from complex trauma are said to have Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or C-PTSD.
What are the symptoms of complex trauma?
The symptoms of C-PTSD are diverse. They include an inability to control anger or emotions, a desire to commit acts of self-harm, low self-esteem, poor attention or memory, guilt, shame, depression, anxiety, and even physical pain. Many sufferers will report impaired functioning and difficulties in maintaining relationships. A correct diagnosis of C-PTSD is very important. A therapist can spend years treating one or more of the symptoms and not get anywhere unless he or she appreciates that the patient is really suffering from complex trauma.
If you have been through traumatic experiences and are struggling with life, it is essential to get a proper evaluation.