difference between cptsd vs ptsd and how to treat each condition

The difference between CPTSD and PTSD and how to treat each condition

complex PTSD treatment | complex PTSD support | c PTSD childhood trauma

child suffering form PTSD
child suffering from PTSD

CPTSD and PTSD and similar but different conditions may require different treatment.

  • The difference between CPTSD and PTSD is that PTSD usually occurs after a single traumatic event, while PTSD is associated with recurrent trauma.
  • Risks that can lead to PTSD include serious injury, sexual abuse, or a traumatic birth experience, such as the loss of a baby.
  • Incidents that could lead to CPSTD include childhood abuse, ongoing domestic violence, or kidnapping.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex PTSD (CDD) are both mental health disorders that can occur after a traumatic event, such as seeing violence or sexual abuse.

There are several important differences, however, in how the conditions develop and the best behaviors. Here’s what you need to know about the differences between PTSD and PTSD.

Differences between CPTSD and PTSD

You may have PTSD after going through a single traumatic event, but PTSD is often associated with ongoing or repeated trauma.

For example, events that may lead to PTSD include:

  • Serious accident
  • Incident of physical or sexual assault
  • A traumatic birth experience, such as the loss of a baby
  • A serious health problem that may have required a lot of care

On the other hand, risk factors for CPTSD include:

  • Dealing with child abuse or neglect as a child
  • Ongoing domestic violence
  • Repeated witnessing of violence or abuse
  • Harassment or kidnapping

Overall, you are more likely to get  CPTSD instead of PTSD if you are traumatized:

  • It happened when he was young
  • Made by someone close to you
  • It’s done by someone who keeps seeing him

Symptoms of  CPTSD and PTSD

Although they often occur in different forms of trauma, PTSD and PTSD share many important symptoms, including:

Recovering from trauma with disturbing memories, recollections, and nightmares
Avoid people, places, or thoughts that remind you of trauma
Changes in your attitude and thinking, which includes feeling isolated and extremely negative
Feeling dizzy and irritable, easily nervous, or having difficulty concentrating or falling asleep

“People with PTSD generally experience full-fledged PTSD symptoms,” said David Berle, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, and professor of psychology at the University of Technology Sydney.

However, people with PTSD may also report other depressive symptoms, Berle said. These symptoms may include:

  • Long-term difficulties in maintaining relationships
  • Difficulty controlling emotions
  • Strong feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, chest pains, and abdominal pain
  • Suicidal thoughts

Treatment differences between CPTSD and PTSD

Because PTSD and CPTSD come with different symptoms, you may need different treatments to recover from the trauma.

Treatment of PTSD

PTSD is usually treated with medication that focuses on trauma. During these treatments, “A person is encouraged to remember and consider (s) traumatic events in a safe and controlled environment for a treatment session,” Berle said.

The most common treatment for PTSD is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). In EMDR, you revisit and interpret memories of your trauma while the therapist leads you through a series of eye movements that work to change the way your brain processes painful memories.

Another treatment for PTSD is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps you to turn your negative thoughts, feelings, and behavior into healthy alternatives. This can help you to learn to respond in a way that is different from the things that cause stress and to change your mind. CBT treatment for PTSD usually takes 8 to 12 times.

Treatment of PTSD

“Treatment of PTSD usually includes all aspects of standard PTSD treatment,” Berle said, but it often adds a skill-building factor. This can be the following learning strategies:

  • Controlling strong emotions
  • Creating supportive relationships
  • Coping with feelings of worthlessness and guilt

This can be especially important if you have experienced trauma as early as child abuse, as you may never have learned to trust other people or feel safe in the world, Berle said.

“Treatment of PTSD lasts longer than conventional PTSD treatment: sometimes six months or more for standard appointments,” Berle said. It takes a long time to treat because, during a long period of trauma, you may develop defensive behaviors, such as constantly looking for danger or isolating yourself from other people.

It may be difficult to change your long-term habits if you commit to these therapies, Berle says you may be able to effectively treat your condition.

An important point

PTSD and PTSD are mental health conditions that can affect your health if left untreated. There are a few treatment options available, however, that can help you treat the chronic side effects of trauma. If you have symptoms but are not sure if you have PTSD or PTSD, ask your doctor to diagnose or refer you to a trauma specialist.

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