The symptoms of PTSD apply well to people who have experienced a discreet or short-lived traumatic event such as a motor vehicle accident, natural disaster or rape. However, the symptoms of PTSD do not always completely map on to the experiences of people who have experienced chronic, repeated or long-lasting traumatic events such as childhood sexual and/or physical abuse, domestic violence or captivity such as in a prisoner of war camp. When it comes to these events, the symptoms of PTSD do not really seem to completely describe the psychological harm, emotional problems and changes in how people view themselves and the world following chronic traumatic exposure. Therefore it is important to distinguish between the type of PTSD that develops from chronic long-lasting traumatic events as compared PTSD from short-lived events. The diagnosis of Complex PTSD refers to the set of symptoms that commonly follow exposure to a chronic traumatic event.
EVENTS CONNECTED TO COMPLEX PTSD
The traumatic events connected to Complex PTSD are long-lasting and generally involve some form of physical and or emotional captivity such as childhood sexual and/or physical abuse or domestic violence. In these types of a victim is under the control of another person and does not have the ability to easily escape.
SYMPTOMS OF COMPLEX PTSD
The following symptoms stem from exposure to a chronic traumatic event where a person felt captive.
EMOTION REGULATION PROBLEMS
People with complex PTSD experience difficulties managing their emotions. They may experience severe depression, thoughts of suicide or have difficulties controlling their anger.
CHANGES IN CONSCIOUSNESS
Following exposure to a chronic traumatic event, a person may repress memories of the traumatic event, experience flashbacks or experience dissociation.
CHANGES IN HOW A PERSON VIEWS THEMSELVES
Symptoms in this category include feelings of helplessness, shame, guilt or feeling detached and different from others.
CHANGES IN HOW THE VICTIM VIEWS THE PERPETRATOR
A person with Complex PTSD may feel like he/she has no power over a perpetrator ( the perpetrator has complete power in a relationship) In complex PTSD people might also become preoccupied with their relationship to the perpetrator.
CHANGES IN PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS
These symptoms include problems with relationships such as isolating oneself or being distrusting of others.
CHANGES IN HOW ONE VIEWS THE WORLD
People exposed to chronic or repeated traumatic events may also lose faith in humanity or have a sense of hopelessness about the future.