Symptoms of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD)


Excerpt from PsychCentral

C-PTSD overlaps with PTSD, but it also has some unique symptoms, such as dissociation and negative self-image.

“Symptoms of C-PTSD often include the same types of symptoms seen with PTSD, such as:

* recurrent and intrusive thoughts or dreams

* flashbacks

* mental and physical reactions to reminders of the traumatic event

* avoidance of people, places, things, or events that remind you of the trauma

* memory loss

* negative thoughts toward yourself or the world

* self-blame

* bad moods that stick around

* detachment and disinterest

* difficulty showing positive emotion

* irritability

* recklessness

* hypervigilance, or being on “high alert

* trouble concentrating

* startling easily

* trouble sleeping


But if you live with C-PTSD, you could have more severe you could have more severe DSO-type symptoms, like:

* a negative view of yourself

* dissociation, or disconnecting from yourself and your emotions

* emotions that feel “out of control”

* relationship difficulties

* loss of your belief system

* difficulty recognizing reality

* Negative view of yourself”

Continued in response

17 responses to this post.

  1. You may have feelings of shame or guilt related to the traumatic experience. You may also feel like you’re to blame or even permanently changed in some negative way.


    Dissociation is a detachment from yourself and your emotions. You may also have trouble remembering parts of the traumatic experience or forget it happened at all.

    Intense emotions

    Intense emotions might include anger or sadness, and they often seem to come without warning.

    Relationship difficulties

    You may not feel as though you can trust anyone or come to expect that others will harm you. You may also find yourself in other traumatic situations if abuse was a regular part of your past.

    Loss of belief systems

    Your spiritual beliefs and worldview can change after trauma. You might wonder if there’s any purpose or meaning to what you once believed.

    Distorted perceptions

    If you’ve survived abuse, your thoughts might focus on your relationship with the person who abused you. You may also become focused on thoughts of revenge or feel responsible for your abuser’s actions. Just remember: You are not at fault.

  2. I have seen some saying that CPTSD is the same as EUPD/bpd. I’m curious what you think about that? I thought with PTSD and CPTSD you would maybe experience nightmares and flashbacks and this would not necessarily happen in bpd.

    Whenever I read the symptoms of CPTSD I am reminded how complex the issues are and treatment or therapy will probably take such a long time.

  3. Posted by rudid96 on September 13, 2022 at 9:15 pm

    Every behavior in the first list is mine. With tenacity, therapy, and the reduction of outside drama, some of the many behaviors in the 2nd list have dissipated. However, the truth is, they’re now always running in the background. Move one of the safe-keeping goal posts, and poof, dysregulation can run amok.

  4. You got me thinking and investigating

    Both have similar symptoms

    Here is UK blog

    Is it BPD or PTSD?
    BPD (sometimes called Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, or EUPD) is a lifelong mood disorder which can affect how someone thinks, feels, perceives, and relates to others. People with BPD may struggle with a fear of abandonment, impulsive behaviour, intense emotions and relationships, and an unstable self-image. Although there’s no single cause, research suggests genetics and brain chemistry may make someone more susceptible to the condition.

    BPD often stems from prolonged childhood trauma, which can also increase someone’s chance of developing PTSD. PTSD is a psychological response to a traumatic event (which of course might include childhood events). The symptoms of PTSD can include flashbacks, depression, anxiety, shame, anger and relationship problems.

    Can someone have both BPD and PTSD?
    It’s thought that between 25% and 60% of people with BPD also have PTSD. This could be because living with a mood disorder can both increase the risk of experiencing a traumatic situation, and make it more likely that experiencing a traumatic event leads to PTSD.

    When someone has both conditions, the symptoms tend to be worse than if they had BPD or PTSD alone. PTSD can increase the likelihood of dissociative, intrusive and suicidal thoughts in people with BPD. That’s why it’s so important to get the correct diagnosis.

    Making a correct diagnosis for BPD or PTSD
    BPD can sometimes be mistaken for PTSD or C-PTSD, and vice-versa. C-PTSD is a subset of PTSD which is associated with long-term or chronic exposure to trauma – much like BPD. Both can cause emotional distress, mood swings, flashbacks, anxiety and anger.

    It’s thought there are some generalised key differences to look out for, but of course, everybody is different:

    Although both conditions can lead to problems maintaining personal relationships, people with BPD tend to fear abandonment, whereas people with C-PTSD may avoid intimacy or relationships altogether because of ‘feeling somehow unlovable or undeserving because of the abuse they endured’.
    People with BPD are more likely to self-harm, than people with PTSD or C-PTSD.
    ‘While both those with BPD and C-PTSD struggle with emotional regulation and often experience outbursts of anger or crying, those with C-PTSD may experience emotional numbing, emptiness, or a detachment from emotions.’
    Someone with PTSD may be calmed by going to a familiar environment and being reassured that they are safe. This might irritate someone with BPD, who may respond more positively to being told their feelings are valid.
    People with PTSD are more likely to be triggered by a specific external trigger and think and behave rationally outside those triggers. For people with BPD, the triggers tend to be internal thoughts and feelings, which can be less predictable.
    Unfortunately, because of the overlap in symptoms, and because some differences appear similar from the outside, some people with C-PTSD end up being misdiagnosed with BPD, or vice-versa. Sometimes someone will have both conditions, but only one is picked up. We recommend speaking to your doctor if you think your diagnosis is incorrect or incomplete.

  5. You sound like some healing has happened

    Most of the symptoms I share

  6. Posted by rudid96 on September 13, 2022 at 9:43 pm

    My mother has undiagnosed BPD along with a narcissistic personality. As a child, I’m certain her difficulties emanated from childhood trauma. At peak stress moments in her lifetime, she demonstrates all the qualities in the 2nd list. When she receives her narcissistic supply and life is going how she wants, those behaviors grow dimmer. Abandonment is one of the things I believe motivates her negative behaviors.

  7. Interestingly, your pathology is more like mine than anyone I have run into

    I fear abandonment from childhood

    But I think I have C-PTSD not BPD

  8. Posted by rudid96 on September 13, 2022 at 9:47 pm

    Marty, I have healed – a little. There are a few more good days, and, on good days, I may even try something that pushes me out of my comfort zone for a brief while. I even found myself ‘happy’ for 2 days in a row. That’s why I think this is a life time work around.

  9. Posted by rudid96 on September 13, 2022 at 9:49 pm

    Marty, the same for me; I have C-PTSD.
    Therapy has allowed me to heal enough to see that I didn’t have BPD.

  10. Lately, mine has exploded

    I carry enough cortisol and adrenaline to knock a horse down

    It feels out of control now

  11. Posted by rudid96 on September 13, 2022 at 9:52 pm

    All those hormonal excesses are incredibly toxic. There’s got to be a way to bring them back to a quieter zone. I keep reading articles to see if anything new pops up that I can send your way. The enmeshment of mind & body is complicated.

  12. Thoughts, intrusive thoughts make my life dark and dangerous

    My levels of cortisol and adrenaline seem to stay sort of constant sometimes

    I handle them when things are good or slightly negative but everything goes to hell when it is active and intense

  13. Posted by rudid96 on September 13, 2022 at 10:02 pm

    Interestingly, you know yourself so well. The C-PTSD is the toxin that constantly stirs the pot.

  14. Posted by krissyc2014 on September 15, 2022 at 8:57 pm

    Honestly, it took me a long time to even deal with my demons.. was finally clinically diagnosed with CPTSD, severe depression and anxiety last summer. It took me over a year, 2 different meds and intensive therapy to get to the stage I am at now. It’s possible to climb out of that dark depth but, it’s a lot of hard work! Try CBD Oil. Lots of healing benefits!
    Stay strong! You got this!!

  15. Thanks for posting. I found how the differences were described much clearer than what I had read elsewhere

  16. My pleasure

    I have some borderline symptoms


  17. I been at it twelve hard year’s and still the demon lives

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