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Differences Between PTSD and Complex Trauma

Complex trauma, also known as Developmental Trauma Disorder, is a challenging and intricate condition that can be harder to heal from compared to conventional post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As a counselor, I’ve worked with many survivors of complex trauma, and their journeys have taught me valuable insights into why this type of trauma presents unique challenges. In this blog, we’ll delve into four reasons why complex trauma can be more challenging to heal from, using the story of “Sarah”, a survivor of childhood abuse, to illustrate these points.

1. Multiple Traumatic Events

One significant factor that sets complex trauma apart is the sheer number of traumatic events that survivors endure. Unlike a single traumatic incident often seen in PTSD, complex trauma involves multiple and prolonged traumatic experiences. These events can span years and, in many cases, continue into adulthood.

Sarah’s Story: Sarah grew up in an abusive household, witnessing violence and suffering abuse from a young age. The trauma she experienced was a daily occurrence, making it hard for her to differentiate between normal and traumatic experiences.

2. Emotional Dysregulation

Complex trauma can disrupt a survivor’s emotional regulation system. Feelings of fear, shame, and anger may become overwhelming and unpredictable. Survivors often struggle to manage their emotions and may have difficulty forming healthy relationships.

Sarah’s Story: Due to her abusive upbringing, Sarah had difficulty trusting others and maintaining stable relationships. She would often become intensely anxious, even in situations that posed no actual threat. Her emotional responses were challenging to control, and she often felt overwhelmed by intense feelings of anger and sadness.

3. Altered Belief Systems

Complex trauma can deeply impact a survivor’s beliefs about themselves and the world. Survivors may develop negative core beliefs, such as feeling unworthy or unlovable, which can affect their self-esteem and overall mental well-being.

Sarah’s Story: Growing up in an abusive environment, Sarah internalized the belief that she was inherently bad and deserved the mistreatment she endured. These negative beliefs continued to influence her self-esteem and her perception of the world.

4. Disrupted Attachment

Healthy attachment in childhood is essential for emotional development and forming secure relationships. Complex trauma often disrupts these attachment patterns, making it harder for survivors to trust and form healthy connections with others.

Sarah’s Story: Sarah’s early attachment to her parents was marked by inconsistency and violence. As a result, she developed an insecure attachment style, which made it difficult for her to trust and connect with others. Her fear of abandonment often led to self-sabotaging behaviors in relationships.

Video Explanation of CPTSD vs PTSD

5 Minute Explanation of CPTSD

Complex trauma is indeed more challenging to heal from than conventional PTSD due to the multiple traumatic events, emotional dysregulation, altered belief systems, and disrupted attachment patterns. However, healing is possible with the right support and therapeutic interventions. Survivors like Sarah demonstrate incredible resilience and strength as they work towards recovery. As a counselor, my goal is to provide guidance and support, helping survivors navigate the complexities of their trauma and embark on a journey toward healing and self-discovery. Are you ready to take the first step on your Pursuit towards a happier, healthier you? We invite you to book your free 20-minute consultation with one of our skilled therapists. Don’t wait; it’s time to invest in your well-being. Simply click “Book Now”  to start your Pursuit towards personal growth and positive change today.

Disclaimer: Sarah is a fictional Character and not a real client.

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