What is Complex PTSD?
Complex PTSD is a relatively recent descriptive label. At present complex PTSD is not a formal diagnosis (in DSM IV) but is a term that has developed to describe the characteristics of trauma reactions frequently seen in people who have experienced frequent and / or severe traumatic events, such as victims of child abuse.
This is not to suggest that other forms PTSD are not complex! All PTSD involves a range of symptoms that can create difficulties in many aspects of a sufferers life. However, while PTSD as it is generally defined is principally an anxiety disorder with a range of anxiety symptoms being the main features, Complex PTSD refers to a trauma reaction with a more pervasive pattern of psychological symptoms, affecting fundamental aspects of thinking, emotion, behaviour and even personality. Low self-esteem, dissociation and an inadequate sense of self, are some of the symptoms often associated with Chronic PTSD.
Treatment of complex PTSD frequently requires more than simple trauma-focussed therapy. Therapy often involves a range of treatment strategies, from practical coping skills training through to cognitive restructuring. Trauma-focused approaches may feature later in therapy with Complex PTSD. Many individuals with Complex PTSD will often receive input from a range of professional services, including psychiatrists and psychologists, during the recovery process. Issues such as mobilising effective social support can be as important as specific psychological or medication treatments.
While some people believe that Complex PTSD is a useful label, there is far from universal agreement. Some professionals view it as simply a more severe form of PTSD. There is also much overlap between Complex PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), and hence some argue that BPD is a better way to describe symptoms of Complex PTSD. For more on BPD go to .
However regardless of the diagnostic label, PTSD is a disabling psychological condition for which effective treatments are available.
For details how to find a therapist / psychologist near you with expertise in PTSD treatment
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IMPORTANT NOTE: This page and this site describes general information about PTSD which may not apply to your situation. Information should NOT be used for diagnosis or treatment purposes. You should consult a GP, Clinical Psychologist, or other mental health professional for advice on your symptoms and the most appropriate treatment(s).