Can You Heal from Complex PTSD?

May 9, 2024

image of man depicting complex ptsd

C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) often develops as a result of prolonged periods of trauma like ongoing domestic violence or sustained child abuse.

This condition shares many similarities with PTSD and BPD (borderline personality disorder). While complex PTSD can be aggravating and disruptive, it’s also treatable with talk therapies and medications.

What Is Complex PTSD?

Complex PTSD is a mental health condition that may develop from enduring long-term traumatic events. The disorder is characterized by stress-related responses, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Avoiding situations, places, or objects related to traumatic events
  • Intense emotional reactions like impulsiveness or aggression
  • Ongoing challenges in maintaining personal relationships

Chronic traumas often associated with the development of C-PTSD include:

an icon image of a lightbulb

Need Help Getting Mental Health Treatment?

  • Prolonged physical or sexual abuse during childhood
  • Extended exposure to domestic violence
  • Being a victim of human trafficking or sexual exploitation
  • Experiencing warfare
  • Regular exposure to violence in the community

Although CPTSD is frequently linked to trauma experienced in childhood, adults exposed at long-term traumatic events are also at risk of developing this condition.

Complex PTSD Symptoms

Symptoms of complex PTSD include the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder alongside additional symptoms unique to the experience of prolonged trauma.

PTSD symptoms include:

  • Reliving the traumatic experience: Experiencing nightmares or flashbacks of the trauma.
  • Avoidance: Steering clear of situations or activities—like large crowds or driving—that evoke memories of the trauma. This may also involve engaging in distractions to avoid thinking about the traumatic event.
  • Altered perceptions and beliefs: This could manifest as avoiding relationships, a lack of trust in others, or viewing the world as inherently dangerous.
  • Hyperarousal: A state of being perpetually on edge, which can disrupt sleep or concentration and may cause a heightened startle response to loud or sudden noises.
  • Somatic symptoms: Physical reactions without a medical basis, such as dizziness or nausea, triggered by reminders of the trauma.

Additional symptoms of C-PTSD include:

  • Emotional dysregulation: Experiencing overwhelming emotions, like intense anger or persistent sadness, that are difficult to manage.
  • Changes in consciousness: This may involve forgetting the trauma or feeling disconnected from emotions or physical self, a state described clinically as dissociation.
  • Negative self-perception: Feelings of guilt or shame that can lead to feeling fundamentally different from others.
  • Relationship challenges: Difficulty in forming or maintaining relationships due to mistrust or uncertainty about how to interact, or conversely, entering relationships that may be harmful because they feel familiar.
  • Distorted perception of the abuser: An obsession with the relationship to the abuser, which could also extend to thoughts of revenge or attributing excessive power to the abuser.
  • Loss of belief systems: A crisis of faith or belief systems, potentially leading to despair or a pervasive sense of hopelessness.

The manifestation of PTSD and C-PTSD symptoms can vary significantly from person to person, and even within the same individual over time – a person may oscillate between avoiding social interactions and seeking out potentially harmful situations, for example.

image depicting complex ptsd symptoms

Can Complex PTSD Be Treated?

There is no specific test to diagnose complex PTSD. Rather, a determination of the condition is made by a healthcare provider who evaluates symptoms, experiences of trauma, and mental health history. C-PTSD is diagnosed using the criteria outlined in the World Health Organization’s ICD-11 (International Classification of Diseases, 11th revised text).

Complex PTSD was only recognized as a distinct condition relatively recently, awareness of the condition among healthcare providers may vary, potentially complicating the process of obtaining an accurate diagnosis.

C-PTSD is treatable with a variety of evidence-based interventions. TF-CBT (trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy) is highly effective for managing complex PTSD. This form of talk therapy is delivered by mental health professionals to help those with C-PTSD alleviate symptoms, improve functioning, and enhance overall well-being. Therapy involves the following core components:

  • Understanding how your body reacts to stress and trauma.
  • Developing skills to manage symptoms effectively.
  • Identifying and altering harmful thought patterns.
  • Utilizing exposure therapy to gradually confront and cope with trauma-related fears.

Exposure therapy is especially beneficial for individuals with PTSD and C-PTSD who tend to avoid reminders of their trauma, so missing out on opportunities to learn coping mechanisms in the presence of these triggers.

CPT (cognitive processing therapy) is also beneficial to treating C-PTSD, targeting distressing thoughts and emotions stemming from the trauma, and helping people to process and reshape these perceptions.

EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) is another therapeutic intervention that helps people heal from complex PTSD. Individuals focus on sounds or gestures delivered by the therapist while recalling traumatic events. This aims to reduce the distress associated with traumatic memories over time.

FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) has not approved medications to treat PTSD or complex PTSD. That said, healthcare providers may prescribe medications to manage symptoms. C-PTSD medications include:

  • Antidepressants like SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) or SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), to mitigate symptoms of depression or anxiety.
  • Anti-anxiety medications to reduce anxiety levels.
  • Sleep aids to address insomnia.

These treatments, whether therapeutic or pharmacological, aim to provide relief from the symptoms of C-PTSD, enhancing the quality of life for those affected by this condition. 

Treatment Solutions for Complex PTSD

If you feel that you or someone you care about would benefit from C-PTSD treatment, inpatient treatment is often covered by health insurance. Most people suffering from complex post-traumatic stress disorder find that symptoms become intrusive and unmanageable. This means that inpatient treatment will often be deemed medically necessary for recovery and eligible for health insurance coverage.

Call Connections today at 844-759-0999 to explore treatment solutions for complex PTSD and learn more about how insurance can help cover the cost of recovery.

an image of two people who got help at our complex ptsd treatment center in Orange County

Get Inpatient Treatment for Complex PTSD at Connections

Complex PTSD treatment can help anyone troubled by past traumas recalibrate their lives and stop living in fear of traumatic memories. At Connections, we treat PTSD and other mental health conditions in an inpatient setting, providing a welcoming and inclusive environment in which people can address trauma in a safe space.

When you engage with treatment at our luxury beachside facility, you’ll join a small number of peers dealing with similar issues. We admit just six people at one time to our beachside treatment center. This enables you to take advantage of peer support and encouragement while still benefiting from personal attention.

During a month at Connections, you’ll engage with a highly structured treatment program to help you deal with complex PTSD. This may include medication management, counseling, psychotherapies, trauma-focused care, and holistic therapies. You can expect to restore well-being, improve functioning, and acquire healthy coping skills for ongoing recovery.

Call 844-759-0999 today and start dealing with trauma-related issues right away.

Want to Learn More?
Recent Articles
image depicting how depression affects your daily life

May 23, 2024

How Depression Affects Your Daily Life

Depression (major depressive disorder) is a serious and common condition. It changes how you feel, act, and think. Everyone experiences depression differently. For some, it

image depicting how to help someone with bipolar disorder

May 20, 2024

How to Help Someone With Bipolar Depression

Helping a loved one deal with bipolar depression can be difficult, but by learning more about this disorder you can equip yourself to provide the

image depicting the question when to take time off for mental health

May 16, 2024

When to Take Time Off for Mental Health

It’s common for people to hesitate about taking time off work. Taking a break is okay, though, whether you’re feeling sick, stressed, or overloaded.  Read

image of two people depicting the question how can i check my mental health

May 13, 2024

How Can I Check My Mental Health?

Checking in on your mental health is important to maintain a balanced and healthy life. Find out how you can check in with yourself to

image of man depicting complex ptsd

May 9, 2024

Can You Heal from Complex PTSD?

C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) often develops as a result of prolonged periods of trauma like ongoing domestic violence or sustained child abuse. This condition

image depicting the question how does trauma affect the brain

May 6, 2024

How Does Trauma Affect the Brain?

How does trauma affect the brain? The amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex are brain regions that are impacted by the stress responses resulting from emotional

an image of people who got help at Connections Mental Health

You’re Not Alone

Get treatment from a team of expert staff who is passionate about helping you experience peace.

Learn more about the individual mental health disorders we treat by clicking a button below.