What is PTSD V Complex PTSD ?


At lunch today in the clinic this question was asked by one of the other patients. It is an interesting question and diagnosis decides the clinicians treatment plan for the presenter. The majority of people who present to services with trauma-related problems have multiple unresolved traumas (complex trauma) which often leads to severe, diverse and persistent impacts.

Complex trauma can be caused by childhood abuse in all its forms as well as neglect and growing up with family violence or dysfunction.

Any form of violence experienced within the community – civil unrest, war trauma, genocide, cultural dislocation, sexual exploitation or re-traumatisation of victims later in life can also cause complex trauma.

In complex trauma the traumatic stressors are usually interpersonal – the trauma is premeditated, planned, and often repeated and prolonged and the impacts are cumulative.

It’s important to differentiate single incident trauma often classified in terms of PTSD from complex trauma and deliver service responses accordingly as responses to complex trauma based on a diagnosis of PTSD alone are often seriously inadequate. This can be witnessing a horrific car accident or a gun shooting or similar singular stressful situation.

For resources on Complex Trauma click here. Thanks to Blue Knot for these resources.

Use the search engine on the top right of this site for other information on Complex PTSD and Trauma.

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