What Is The Difference Between PTSD And CPTSD?

Posted by Edward Ernest | Jul 16, 2018 | PTSD | 0 |

There’s a lot of confusion about the difference between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Vs. Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD), so what are they?

(PTSD) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health disorder that’s triggered by an unsettling event, by either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include nightmares, flashbacks, severe anxiety, as well as intrusive thoughts about the event. It’s a disorder that affects survivors of accidents, war veterans, and single acts of violence.

Symptoms of PTSD

Reliving Trauma

Rethinking the traumatic experience, which includes nightmares and flashbacks.


Avoiding situations or activities, such as driving or large crowds, that remind you of the traumatic event. This includes keeping your mind preoccupied as to avoid thinking about the event.

Changes In Your Beliefs & How You Feel About Yourself 

This can include avoiding relationships with other people, losing trust in others, and possibly believing the world is a dangerous place.


Being on constant alert. This can include having a hard time sleeping or concentrating, to being startled by loud or unexpected noises.

Somatic Symptoms

Physical symptoms that don’t correlate to a real underlying medical cause. So if you’re reminded of a traumatic event, you may feel nauseous or dizzy. 

So how does this differ from (CPTSD) Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

On the surface, PTSD and CPTSD may seem the same, but Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder differentiates itself because those who battle this disorder have been dealing with severe and repetitive trauma that usually happened during childhood and is most often from abuse. The effects of CPTSD are lifelong and thus shape how the person views others and the world around them. Survivors of CPTSD have problems with emotional regulation, self-perception, relationships, and disassociation.

Symptoms of CPTSD

People with CPTSD usually have the symptoms of regular PTSD symptoms along with these additional symptoms:

Lack of Emotional Regulation

Uncontrollable feelings like anger and sadness.

Changes In Consciousness

This can include dissociation, which is feeling detached from your emotions or body. Also, one can also forget the traumatic event.

Negative Self-Perception

Feeling of shame and guilt, leading to low self-esteem more than others.

Difficulty With Relationships

Relationship avoidance out of mistrust or not knowing how to interact with others. But a person may also be a part of relationships with people who’ll harm them because it’s a familiar feeling.

Distorted Perception Of Abuser

Becoming preoccupied with the relationship between a person and their abuser. This can also include a preoccupation with revenge or giving an abuser power over your life.

Loss Of Systems Of Meanings

Losing faith in your long held beliefs and possibly developing a sense of hopelessness in your life and in your perception about the world.

Please note: Symptoms of both CPTSD and PTSD can vary widely between people, and even within the same person over time. 

If you or a loved one is battling PTSD or CPTSD, please do get help if you’re not getting any right now. If you need to talk to anyone right away, our friends at Better Help are here for you by just CLICKING HERE.

Photo Credit: Jesper Sehested


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