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PTSD vs. CPTSD

What is PTSD? 

PTSD, which stands for posttraumatic stress disorder, is a psychiatric disorder that occurs in individuals who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. Those who have PTSD may have intense or disturbing thoughts and feelings that are related to the experiences associated with the traumatic event. Individuals may have flashbacks or nightmares, experience sadness, fear or anger, and feel detached from others. Individuals who have PTSD may experience symptoms that include intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.

What is CPTSD? 

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder, CPTSD for short, is an anxiety condition that has many of the same symptoms that are similar to PTSD symptoms. It is considered to be a closely related condition that is increasingly becoming more aware to doctors within recent years. CPTSD occurs from repeated trauma over months or years from more than one single event. Symptoms may include lack of emotional regulation, changes in consciousness, negative self-perception, diffiulty with relationships, distorted perception of abuser, and loss of systems of meanings. 

The exact cause of CPTSD is still being researched today as to how traumatic stress affects the brain and leads to mental illnesses like CPTSD. There are studies on animals that have shown trauma can have lasting effects on various parts of the brain such as the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. CPTSD can be caused by any type of long-term trauma that lasts over several months to years. 

Treatments

EMDR is a form of treatment that is commonly used for individuals who have PTSD. It is also helpful for those who have CPTSD. EMDR occurs where individuals will be asked to briefly think about a traumatic moment while their eyes are moving from side to side. There are other ways that pTSD and CPTSD are treated such as through medications, psychotherapy, practicing mindfulness, journaling, etc. 

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