Many times I get asked what the difference is between PTSD and CPTSD.
PTSD usually occurs after a single traumatic event, such as a serious accident, a traumatic birth, a sexual assault, etc. CPTSD is associated with repeated trauma over months or years, rather than a single event. Examples include being a prisoner of war, ongoing childhood sexual abuse, chronic physical or emotional abuse, and neglect.
Both PTSD and CPTSD result from the experience of something deeply traumatic and can have symptoms like body memories, flashbacks, nightmares, and insomnia. Both can also make you feel intensely afraid and unsafe even though the danger has passed.
While the following symptoms below can exist with both PTSD and CPTSD, they are especially true for CPTSD survivors:
• Difficultly managing emotions. For example, if a childhood memory gets triggered, someone with CPTSD may feel like they are in a younger state. Difficulty in navigating anger, sadness, suicidal ideation may occur.
•Difficulty with relationships. For instance, difficulties with trusting others.
• Dissociation as a way to detach or distance oneself from the trauma.
• Negative self view: typically carry a lot of shame, feelings of not being good enough, etc.