Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD)

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Being the newest edition in the diagnostic system, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/ C-PTSD goes beyond the existing category of PTSD. Proposed by Dr. Judith Herman, C-PTSD can be attributed to exposure to any single time event of extreme intensity or a series of traumatic events, single or of different types, over a long period. The difference between PTSD and C-PTSD is that these traumatic events are generally interpersonal in nature and are highly intense and catastrophic in C-PTSD. The individual might feel trapped in these traumatic situations with no way to get out of them. These events can include prolonged physical and sexual abuse and neglect, emotional neglect, domestic violence, slavery and torture, forced to live in camps, kidnapping, trafficking, etc.  In many cases, they can last for a long time, sometimes ranging in years. 

As the name suggests, C-PTSD involves all the core clusters of symptoms present in PTSD: repetitive thoughts/images and memories of the events, emotional numbing and detachment, avoiding the triggers associated with the circumstances, and being on constant alert. What gets further is added in C-PTSD is difficulty in emotional regulation, negative evaluation of the self, including feelings of worthlessness and failure leading to intense shame and guilt, and difficulty in formation and managing long term, good quality relationships with people around them.  

These complex traumatic events affect the whole being of an individual. We can observe considerable changes in personality functioning before and after the event. The more traumatic event that occurred earlier in life, the more profound and deep-rooted the effects are. Traumatic events with their initiation during childhood, especially before the age of 10, increase the likelihood of dysfunction in socio-emotional development.

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