What are the affects C-PTSD?

Anesha Wheaton, Courier Staff

Most people are familiar with PTSD, which is defined as dealing with trauma after a significant event. Trauma is different for every individual. What one person might define as traumatizing may be an ordinary event for another. Trauma may last for several months or even a lifetime. A significant event or series of events, may cause someone to relive their trauma over and over again. C-PTSD is a lesser-known mental disorder that affects a vast amount of people.

C-PTSD stands for complex post traumatic stress disorder. It is similar to PTSD, but it is different because PTSD is defined by a singular event, while C-PTSD is caused by a series of traumas over a long period of time. It is a response to stress that they have encountered which they cannot control that is affecting their ability to function. This causes emotional dysregulation, which is having irregular responses to situations. The individual could not escape their environment, being in a lose-lose situation. With C-PTSD, it is normal to have emotional flashbacks, which is an abnormal response to normal behaviors. For example, hearing a phone ring and becoming jumpy is an abnormal response to a normal situation.

It is often the case that a series of childhood incidents caused trauma that their child could not process, so the memory was stored in the back of their minds and later sprang up in life such as in behavioral problems, such as in interpersonal relationships and handling finances. Another common case is that C-PTSD stems from abusive relationships, where the person felt like they were trapped in the relationship and could not leave. They formed a bond with the abuser called a trauma bond. They feel sympathy for the abuser while simultaneously wanting to escape, creating a dichotomy in their head which stresses the individual out.

Most people who have C-PTSD do not realize that they have it because they either gets misdiagnosed as having borderline personality disorder (characterized by having unstable relationships and moods), bipolar disorder (having extreme mood swings that swing from low to high) or do not get diagnosed at all. C-PTSD, BPD and BD all overlap in their symptoms, which is why it is easy to misdiagnose people who have mental illness. Most people who work in the mental health profession do not usually diagnose people who have C-PTSD as C-PTSD because it is not in the latest DSM (diagnostic and statistical manual). The CDM is used to list and explain all the mental disorders that are made aware of at the moment.

C-PTSD is a serious undiagnosed mental disorder that is treatable and should be added to the next addition of the DSM to help mental health professionals and their patients.