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Complex PTSD vs PTSD

Complex PTSD is identified by exposure to severe and repetitive trauma that includes harm or abandonment by caregivers or adults at developmentally vulnerable times, such as childhood or adolescence (Courtois & Ford, 2009). Complex PTSD can be as understated as chronic emotional or physical neglect. Chronicity is a necessary point of diagnosis.


Complex PTSD is often diagnosed in chronic sexual, physical and emotional abuse, exposure to domestic violence, children with parental addiction or mental illness, human trafficking, war, emergency first responders, childhood emotional or physical neglect, and ritualistic abuse, just to name a few.


Complex PTSD symptoms go beyond the diagnosis for PTSD and can include severe problems with emotional dysregulation, dissociation, physical distress, and isolation. Developmentally, chronic abuse impairs the budding brain and self, causing emotional dysregulation, low self-esteem, and absence of dependable nurturing support leaving the individual to feel damaged, shame, secrecy and unable to regulate intense emotions.


PTSD criteria include the experience of a single traumatic event, re-experiencing of traumatic memory, avoidance of memory, emotional numbing, hyperarousal, and nightmares.


The treatment for Complex PTSD can include a team of multidisciplinary trauma specialists including a psychiatrist, therapist or psychologist with a specialty in neurobiological based therapies including EMDR, Brainspotting, and Somatic Experiencing Therapy.


Treating complex traumatic stress disorders: scientific foundations and therapeutic models. Christine Courtois-Julian Ford - The Guilford Press - 2009

Feel free to contact me to learn more about Complex PTSD or Trauma recovery. My office is located in Claremont and conveniently neighbors La Verne, Upland, Ontario, Glendora, Rancho Cucamonga, and other Inland Empire, Orange County, and Los Angeles County cities.

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