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Complex post-traumatic stress disorder is a term used to describe an individual who combines the features of post-traumatic stress disorder and personality disorders. Typically, this problem occurs because people have experienced traumatic events - such as sexual violence - over an extended period of time. What are the symptoms of complex post-traumatic stress disorder and what are the treatments for this individual?

Complex PTSDlargely resembles the "typical" post-traumatic stress disorder. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a fairly familiar entity to patients - it is associated with the fact that it develops as a result of experiencing a traumatic event. However, some irregularities within it are characteristic of the complex post-traumatic stress disorder.

Complex PTSD: causes

The cause of the complex post-traumatic stress disorder is, as it is not difficult to guess, the traumatic events experienced by the patient. It is worth emphasizing here, however, that usually this entity develops in people who experience trauma repeatedly or for a very long time.

The events that may lead to the development of a complex PTSD include :

  • sexual violence,
  • participation in long-term hostilities,
  • being imprisoned for a long time
  • and multiple experiences of violence in the family environment.

Quite often, patients with complex PTSD are those who experienced traumatic events in early childhood. In addition, the perpetrators of violence are often the closest patients - their relatives or carers.

Complex PTSD: symptoms

Symptoms of complex post-traumatic stress disorder partially overlap with those that occur in the course of PTSD. In patients with complex PTSD, the following may be observed :

  • reliving a traumatic event (e.g. in the form of so-called flashbacks),
  • avoiding situations that the patient associates with trauma,
  • feeling a constant sense of danger and being ready to flee.

The symptoms of complex PTSD, however, are definitely more complex. Apart fromwith the aforementioned ailments, they include other types of problems.

Patients with complex post-traumatic stress disorder have difficulty controlling their emotions. Sometimes they get angry for no reason. They may experience increased mood swings. It is possible for them to develop suddenly - without any external cause - states of depressed mood.

Dissociation occurs relatively often, i.e. a state in which the patient becomes cut off from his emotions or body. In the course of complex PTSD, there are also noticeable difficulties in establishing interpersonal relationships, which may result from a lack of trust in other people.

Interestingly, however, it happens that patients try to maintain a relationship with people who have hurt them. This may be due to the fact that the behavior of the persecutor may be perceived by patients as abnormal and - paradoxically - lead to a feeling of security for them.

Patients with complex PTSD tend to perceive themselves negatively. Sometimes they feel completely worthless and sometimes even guilty about what happened to them.

It is also not uncommon to perceive the whole world negatively. It sometimes happens that the patient thinks that life is meaningless and that nothing good awaits him in the future.

Complex PTSD: recognition

In general, the diagnosis of complex PTSD is not easy - if a patient is suspected of having this unit, it is necessary to see a psychiatrist.

It happens that a patient struggling with this unit may actually receive a completely different diagnosis, such as, for example, borderline personality disorder, with which the complex PTSD should be differentiated.

Complex PTSD: treatment

Treatment of PTSD is not easy, and treatment of complex PTSD - due to richer symptomatology - is even more difficult. Psychotherapy plays a fundamental role here, during which it is necessary to work with the trauma (it is generally necessary to identify and work through it).

PTSD complex therapy is difficult, because the patient may develop a very strong resistance to reliving traumatic events.

Patients with complex post-traumatic stress disorder may be helped by various therapeutic interventions, e.g. cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy or psychodynamic therapy.

Psychotherapy is the basic method of treating the complex post-traumatic stress disorder. Besides hersometimes pharmacotherapy is used. Typically, antidepressants such as paroxetine, fluoxetine and sertraline are used.

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