Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (also known as C-PTSD) is a little confusing. The term isn’t accepted by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental disorder, but is used to describe PTSD that is the result of extended exposure to trauma. Here’s the deal: The term PTSD describes the symptoms that a person experiences after they’ve suffered a short-lived trauma, like a violent act or a car accident. In the case of on-going or extended trauma, like being held captive or being subjected to years of abuse, a diagnosis of PTSD doesn’t really capture the psychological damage that comes from prolonged trauma, which is where the label C-PTSD comes in. So, even though it is a diagnosis given by professionals when the circumstance warrants, it’s not formally recognized and isn’t officially classified with other disorders.
Who Gets C-PTSD?
We touched briefly on the kinds of situations and events that can cause C-PTSD, but here is a more detailed list to give you a better understanding of who can suffer from this form of the disorder and why.
People who have experienced repeated trauma or long-term exposure to stressors including:
- Sexual abuse
- Physical abuse
- Being under the control of another person
- Captivity, either physically or emotionally captive
C-PTSD can even occur in people who grew up in an environment where they were exposed to the emotional or physical abuse of another person.
The symptoms of C-PTSD have some similarities to those experienced with PTSD, but PTSD symptoms tend to be based predominantly on fear, while those with C-PTSD on top of fear also experience much more, including:
- Feelings of shame
- Feelings of betrayal
- Feeling trapped even after they’ve escaped the traumatic environment or stressor
- Feeling demoralized
The way that C-PTSD is expressed can also be quite different from PTSD. People who have experienced complex stress experience the following symptoms:
- Altered consciousness in which they forget the trauma or feel detached from their own mind and body, also known as disassociation
- Issues with self-perception, like feeling as though they are different from everyone else or are completely helpless
- Problems connecting to others and isolating themselves
- A loss of faith and ongoing sense of hopelessness
- Suicidal thoughts and depression symptoms
- Anger management issues and angry outbursts
- A preoccupation with revenge on the person(s) who inflicted the abuse
These overwhelming feelings usually lead to destructive behavior and activities, like:
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Eating disorders that often include overeating and binge eating, often in an attempt to make themselves less desirable if they experienced sexual abuse
- Promiscuity and excessive and unusual sexual behaviors
- Self-injury, like cutting
These symptoms and feelings just barely begin to scratch the surface of what someone suffering from complex PTSD deals with during the abuse and long after it has stopped. This disorder can impact every aspect of the person’s life from personal relationships because of their lack of trust and need to isolate themselves to feelings to their entire outlook on life by robbing them of their trust in humanity and filling them with a sense of despair and hopelessness about the future.
If you would like to learn more about PTSD, visit Healthline.
Adrienne is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and fitness for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals for Healthline or other health sites, she can be found frolicking about her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.
When kids act out and misbehave, we’re quick to assume that they’re spoiled, lack discipline, or are just having one of those days. For the most part, it really is usually one of those things—not that parent’s want to admit that their child is anything less than perfect. Unfortunately though, some poor behavior could actually be an expression of something much more serious, like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
It’s hard for a lot of people to even imagine that a child could suffer from PTSD. Most of us think of it as an adult disorder, often because we only ever really hear about PTSD when they’re talking about soldiers returning home from duty. Your child couldn’t possibly be that traumatized by something in their life, could they?
According to the U.S. Department of National Affairs National Center for PTSD, a child can develop PTSD from having lived through or witnessed an event that could have caused them or someone close to them serious harm or death, like sexual or physical abuse, violence, or things like car crashes, floods, or fires. Children may also suffer from PTSD from hearing about something life-threating that happened to a caregiver. It doesn’t need to be something as dramatic as a serious accident or act of violence either; it could stem from knowing that a parent has had cancer or some other serious illness.
PTSD’s Expression in Children
PTSD can look different in children of different ages and entirely different from what you would see in an adult with PTSD depending on how young the child is. Different age groups exhibit different behaviors from PTSD. Here’s a look at how different age groups express symptoms of PTSD.
Toddlers and Children Under 12
- Bedwetting, even after having been potty-trained
- Acting especially clingy with a parent or caregiver
- Forgetting how or being unable to speak
- Being easily startled and jumpy
- Acting out the traumatic event while playing
- Flashbacks of the traumatic event
- Avoidance of places or things that remind them of the event
- Physical symptoms like headaches or stomach aches
- Anxiety and depression
- Sleep issues
- Lack of appetite or overeating
- Acting younger than they are/baby-like
It’s also been shown that older children may fit aspects of the trauma into their daily lives, like carrying a gun to school after witnessing a shooting. Some children continuously repeat the trauma throughout the day.
Teens (over 12)
Teens can show many of the same symptoms listed in the younger children as well as those of adults with PTSD. The biggest difference is that teens tend to be more likely to develop disruptive behaviors and “act out.” Teens tend to express any of the following:
- Impulsive behavior that can be destructive
- Disrespectful behavior
- Disruptive behavior, such as acting out at home or in public
- Constant thoughts of revenge when the trauma was related to abuse; either their own or witnessed
- Feelings of guilt for not having been able to prevent the event or trauma
- Fears of dying at a young age and not living to do certain things, like graduate, get married, or have kids
- Angry outbursts with seemingly little provocation
- Issues with concentration
- Limited range of emotions and a feeling of numbness
- Avoidance of getting close or attached to others
- Withdrawing from things and people they used to enjoy and care about
- Turning to drugs or alcohol or other even promiscuous behavior to try to numb their feelings
As you can see, there are all kinds of expressions of PTSD to look out for in a child that has been through something traumatic. Often the signs of PTSD can also be mistaken for other disorders like ADHD or anxiety disorder. In some cases the event is obvious and known to parents and friends, but in others the trauma may not seem like it was that big a deal to others around the child that’s suffering. In cases like this, understanding how PTSD looks in children can be the only way that you can be alerted to what’s going on.
You can learn more about psychological disorders in children by visiting Healthline.
Adrienne is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and fitness for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking about her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.
Started messing around with the Landfall Beta, because Oak (my twin brother) got a Beta key to share. It’s pretty great. It’s like MMO Minecraft. I’m in #Love. TeamSpeak is another new friend, and both programs are super user friendly so far.
Stand-outs for Landfall? Easy download, etc; players share resources they gather; there’s an easy way to mask your screenname; Terraforming.
Standouts for TeamSpeak? Quick download, and no account needed.
That’s my new fun. Yay for free games.
In other news, I cooked and cleaned and played games last night. I was lazy about the blog and forgot to write something awesome. I’m sorry. Here was my laugh of the night. Enjoy!
A LOT of people have asked the question “Where is this new job of yours, Rory?” The simple answer is I’m not telling. #SoThereHa
Not that it’s a huge secret or anything, I just prefer to keep the professional parts of my life private. Especially when it may affect someone else. It’s not my employers’ job to deal with the Basil Rathbones of the world. It’s my job to be professional and to do my job well, and I can’t do that if someone decided to show up at my work looking for me.
If you are a personal friend of mine, and would like to know more, please talk to me directly, via text or something. I don’t mind my close friends knowing where I work, but it doesn’t belong on the Internet.
Don’t worry. I’m not quitting this, or any of my other jobs/projects. I know I haven’t been super active over the last week, and I’m sorry for that. But I’m here, I’m writing, and gosh darn it, people like me!
In any case, it is a part time position, which means more money, with plenty of time to spend with my family and my other work. I’ve been getting my many (drunk) ducks in a row (while sober, mind you), as I get ready to rebuild my routine which will regularly require me to wake up 6 hours earlier than my norm. Bleh.
Please forgive me if my posts are spread out, or if there isn’t much content. Sometimes, my life is going pretty well, and my posts get boring, because I haven’t got crap to say. Other times, I’m tired, and I’m only awake for the ice-cream that I forgot about until I opened the freezer looking for broccoli. In any case, I’m going to pretend that I’m doing something today, when I’m really just wondering if I should go to sleep so that I can wake up and start my new job (my first day is tomorrow).
Hope you are having a good Monday, my friends. I know I’m loving mine.
Seriously. That little bit of yarn you’ve been holding on to because you made a gorgeous project with the rest of the skein 5 years ago? Give it away. Someone else may actually USE it. Today, I’m off to a fiber event. I will be practicing my hand sewing, clothes making, spinning, and more. Share your left over materials, and peruse the dregs of your friends’ stashes. “Free to a good home” baskets are great. Let your friends take what they will use. If it turns out they can’t use it, they may bring it back for someone else to use!