What are C PTSD Symptoms? Diagnosing C-PTSD Symptoms. Common Symptoms of C PTSD. Treating Symptoms of C-PTSD & Recognizing Physical Symptoms of C-PTSD.

The primary treatment for C PTSD is psychotherapy, but it can also include medication. Combining these treatments can help improve your symptoms. Continue to read more about C PTSD symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment that works.

Understanding C PTSD Symptoms (Complex PTSD)

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) is closely linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, it usually develops due to reprised trauma over months or years rather than a single occurrence. Most people are knowledgeable about PTSD, an anxiety disorder that results from a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster or car accident. However, a similar condition called CPTSD has become more widely acknowledged by doctors in recent years.

Read on to learn more about the C PTSD definition, C PTSD diagnostic criteria, differences from PTSD, diagnosis, treatment, and more.

Looking for help with mental health challenges like C PTSD symptoms? Join thousands of patients who trusted We Level Up NJ for mental health and other substance abuse treatments. Call 24/7 for more mental health rehab information today. Your call is free and confidential. Access mental health and dual diagnosis professionals who understand your circumstances and are ready to help.

What is C PTSD?

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly known as C PTSD, occurs when someone has dealt with long-term trauma. This means the trauma happened over a long period or covered repeated events. Examples might include being a soldier during war or a prisoner of any type: in war, in a concentration camp, and in cases of human trafficking.

Child physical or sexual abuse, which can go on for many years, is another example of complex trauma that could result in C-PTSD, as is being in an abusive relationship as an adult. Usually, the events leading to C-PTSD involve symbolic or actual captivity. The victim is under the control of another and is unable to escape the situation quickly.


C-PTSD Symptoms

Symptoms of C PTSD include distortions of consciousness, including reliving or forgetting traumatic events, and problems with self-perception, such as helplessness, despair, hopelessness, guilt, and shame. Other issues appear in regulating emotions and experiencing discomfort, extreme sadness, suicidal thoughts, and anger. Distorted views of the perpetrator are also typical, including an obsession with or giving all power to them. Relationships with others may also be complicated with problems of distrust, isolation, and looking for a savior in others.

What are C PTSD symptoms? These are among the factors that distinguish it from PTSD. Some C PTSD symptoms are familiar: panic attacks caused by C-PTSD can happen, just as they can with PTSD. But complex traumas can dig deeper into mental and emotional scars than singular traumas.

A person who is experiencing C PTSD symptoms may encounter precise changes in the way they see themselves and others. This can include the following:

C-PTSD and Relationships

Complex PTSD Symptoms in Adults

  • Problems Controlling Emotions: An individual struggling with C PTSD symptoms may have a hard time managing their emotions. This can lead to issues controlling anger, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.
  • Repression of Memories: A person experiencing C PTSD symptoms may avoid thinking about places or people connected to the events that caused them traumas.
  • Dissociation or Flashback Experiences: In some circumstances, a person with C PTSD symptoms may undergo flashbacks that relate to memories beyond their understanding or control; they might respond to a specific situation instinctively because of those repressed memories and not fully understand their reaction.
  • Forgetfulness: People may react or take action in times of extreme stress and not fully remember how and why they did so.
  • Negative Feelings: A person may feel detached, helpless, or guilty, struggling to connect with others or constantly feeling different from the people around them.
  • Obsessive Thoughts: A person may become distracted by the individual or people who caused their trauma; with regular PTSD, they may feel a loss of power associated with that individual, but C PTSD can lead to an obsessive passion for revenge.
  • Difficulty Trusting Others: Someone may have difficulty trusting others, so they self-isolate and avoid relationships and friendships.
  • Feeling of Hopelessness: Someone may not be able to acknowledge that people, overall, are good or enjoy positive thoughts about the future.
  • Loss of Motivation: Because people with C PTSD can’t maintain hope in the future, they may be unmotivated to do anything for themselves—even if they intellectually want to—today.
Substance Abuse, CPTSD & Alcohol

Complex PTSD Diagnosis With Addiction

It’s typical for individuals with C PTSD to turn to alcohol or drug abuse as a way to self-medicate. They may feel emotionally numb, out of control, or unable to deal with everyday life and use alcohol or drugs to sleep, get through the day, or push themselves out of a very tight comfort zone shell so they can function in society, at least for a short amount of time. However, self-medication through alcohol and drugs can result in addiction, which leaves an equally significant issue to deal with.


Living With C PTSD

What causes C PTSD? Any long-term trauma can lead to C-PTSD, but this type of mental condition seems most likely to develop in those abused by someone who should have protected them. This includes survivors of human trafficking or ongoing verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse by a family member.

What Causes CPTSD?

Other examples of long-term trauma that may lead to C-PTSD episodes include the following:

  • Ongoing childhood neglect or abuse.
  • Being a prisoner of war.
  • Living in an area of fighting for an extended period.

Diagnosis of Complex PTSD C&P Exam Tips

C PTSD is a specific diagnosis originating from deficits that PTSD fails to cover. PTSD includes exposure to an isolated traumatic event, while those who repeatedly witnessed traumatizing events often have more severe or different symptoms.

C PTSD defines symptoms related to chronic trauma. Such situations include prostitution houses, concentration camps, long-term physical abuse, long-term sexual abuse, prisoner of war camps, and child exploitation rings. Repeated abuse such as this, which might happen over months or years, has a far more devastating effect on a person than a single event usually does.

VA’s PTSD Test

CPTSD Disability Tests With VA

The C&P exam, sometimes called the VA’s PTSD test, verifies that the veteran has PTSD, even if they have already received a PTSD diagnosis from a qualified medical professional. Moreover, the C&P determines whether PTSD is service-related and the severity of the condition. No C&P exam for PTSD can be done outside accredited platforms. To pass the exam:

  1. Give examples of problems you had with work, school, or relationships.
  2. Describe your difficulty adjusting to civilian life.
  3. Talk about if you were no longer interested in activities you once enjoyed.
  4. Give specific examples of your C PTSD symptoms.

While C PTSD is longstanding, it is not in the fifth edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM-5). It, therefore, isn’t officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Although C PTSD comes with its symptoms, a few mental health professionals believe it is too similar to PTSD (and other trauma-related disorders) to warrant a separate diagnosis. As a result, the DSM-5 combines symptoms of C-PTSD with PTSD. Still, some mental health professionals recognize complex PTSD as a particular condition because the classic symptoms of PTSD do not fully grasp some of the unique features shown in people who have experienced repeated trauma.

Because the condition is relatively new and not recognized in the DSM-5, mental health specialists may diagnose PTSD instead of complex PTSD. Since there is no specific test to determine the difference between the two conditions, you should keep track of the symptoms you have experienced so that you can describe them to your doctor. 

Treatment for the two conditions is similar, but you may want to discuss some of your additional symptoms of complex trauma that your doctor or therapist may also need to address.

Dual Diagnosis CPTSD and Addiction

Complex PTSD and Substance Abuse

The more traumatic or distressing an experience or symptom is, the more significant the association with substance abuse. Individuals with Complex PTSD who lack proper social support or psychological treatment often use substances to ease their symptoms.

Individuals with such severe symptoms are usually desperate for comfort. Alcohol, stimulants, opioids – whatever helps lessen the pain. The tendency to reach for something to get through a challenging moment is understandable. As a society, we are taught that alcohol and other drugs are the answer to almost every problem. So, if we look to a drink at the end of a hard day, the reaction of numbing oneself in response to overwhelming trauma makes sense.

Self-medicating, regardless, can lead to worsening symptoms and the development of new symptoms. Insomnia, anxiety, and depression, for instance, all tend to arise in the aftermath of mind or mood-altering substances. The brain’s biological processes are thrown off balance by introduction of drugs and alcohol, causing a short-term high followed by a more extended recovery period.

The use of mind and mood-altering substances frequently leads to dependence and addiction. But there is hope regardless of the substance of choice or length of using them.



C-PTSD and PTSD resulting from the experience of something profoundly traumatic can cause nightmares, flashbacks, and insomnia. Both mental health conditions can also make someone feel extremely afraid and unsafe even though the danger has passed. However, despite these similarities, some characteristics differentiate C-PTSD from PTSD.

The main distinction between the two disorders is the frequency of the trauma. While a single traumatic event causes PTSD, C-PTSD is caused by long-lasting trauma that continues or repeats for months, even years (commonly called “complex trauma”).

When it comes to C PTSD, the harmful effects of racism and oppression can add layers to complex trauma experienced by individuals. This is further compounded if the justice system is involved.

The developmental and psychological impacts of complex trauma early in life are often more severe than a single traumatic experience—so different that many experts believe that the PTSD diagnostic criteria don’t adequately describe the long-lasting and wide-ranging consequences of C-PTSD.

Understanding PTSD

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a mental health disorder that some individuals experience after experiencing or seeing through a traumatic event. Fear is a natural response to danger; in extreme cases, it can trigger changes in the body to prepare it to either face or avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy and normal reaction intended to help spare an individual from harm.

While most individuals who experience trauma recover from symptoms and the resulting reactions naturally, others get “stuck” in that high-stress condition. Even when the danger has passed, someone struggling with PTSD continues to feel stress and fear as though the danger were still present.

Complex PTSD vs BPD

Complex PTSD vs Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) has similar, almost identical symptoms to C-PTSD. BPD is a disorder that affects individuals differently.

CPTSD vs BPD Common Symptoms

  • Emotional instability.
  • Erratic behavior patterns.
  • Intense feelings of emptiness.

Complex PTSD is a mental condition rooted in shame. Typically, it is characterized by flashbacks to traumatic events and intense feelings of sadness, fear, guilt, and worthlessness.

Differences Between CPTSD and BPD

Understanding CPTSD vs BPD

C-PTSD and BPD are not fully understood. BPD is connected to a history of neglect or trauma, though there could also be a genetic connection. However, Complex PTSD is formed through long-term exposure to trauma. These two conditions can be confused because of their overlapping causes and symptoms, but differ slightly.

CPTSD vs BPD Symptoms

CPTSD vs BPD Symptoms

CPTSD vs. BPD symptoms with both disorders include difficulty with interpersonal skills. However, this symptom arises with BPD because of a fear of abandonment. People with C-PTSD struggle with relationships because they are broken or unlovable. BPD primarily comprises fear as the root cause, while C-PTSD may have shame as the root cause.

CPTSD often includes symptoms of persistent fear, ongoing emotional distress, changes in moods, difficulties in regulating emotions, flashbacks, and intrusive memories. People with BPD may experience wildly fluctuating emotions, have trouble controlling those emotions, and display impulsive behavior, unstable interpersonal relationships, and a distorted self-image. In either case, treatment may involve talk therapy, medication, and other strategies to manage symptoms.

Physical Symptoms of C-PTSD

C-PTSD symptoms can manifest with a wide range of physical symptoms, often due to the chronic stress and emotional dysregulation associated with the condition. Some common physical symptoms may include:

  • Sleep disturbances: Insomnia, nightmares, or disrupted sleep patterns.
  • Stomach pains: Gastrointestinal issues include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), digestive problems, and stomachaches.
  • Chronic pain: Muscular tension, headaches, or unexplained physical pain.
  • Fatigue: Feeling constantly drained and tired.
  • Autoimmune disorders: An increased risk of autoimmune conditions due to the impact of chronic stress on the immune system.
  • Cardiovascular problems: Elevated blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease.
  • Weight changes: Fluctuations in weight, often due to stress-induced changes in appetite.
  • Sexual dysfunction: Such as changes in libido or difficulties with intimacy.
  • Neurological symptoms: Cognitive difficulties, memory problems, and difficulty concentrating.
  • Sensory hypersensitivity: Heightened sensitivity to noise, light, touch, or other sensory stimuli.

These physical symptoms can vary widely among individuals with C-PTSD, and not everyone will experience all of them.

Primary Treatment for the Symptoms of C PTSD

Programs, services, and treatments vary. We Level Up NJ rehab facilities do not provide EMDR therapy. Because patient stability should come before EMDR treatment, EMDR therapy to process trauma for individuals actively drinking alcohol and abusing substances should await their stability phase of rehabilitation. EMDR stages 3 – 8 therapy is best enacted for individuals who feel and experience a safer, trustful connection with their treatment team.

We Level Up New Jersey rehab center treats all behavioral health disorders, including related secondary illnesses, to improve long-term recovery outcomes.

Get a free substance abuse and mental health assessment and determine the treatment options that most suit you. Call to learn more.

Treatments for Complex PTSD and Substance Use Disorder

It is crucial to seek treatment for co-occurring substance abuse and complex post-traumatic stress disorder. There are several different types of treatment options that someone can pursue.


Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) is an interactive psychotherapy technique to relieve psychological stress. During these sessions, the therapist has the patient relive traumatic experiences while directing the patient’s eye movements. This kind of therapy allows a person to be exposed to memories without having a strong psychological response.

Trauma Recovery Model

The trauma recovery model was initially intended to help young age individuals work through C-PTSD. There are four levels of the trauma recovery model.

The first level is based on the fact that every person is redeemable. The second level follows Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, ensuring every person has support. The third level involves staff members working with young people to build strong relationships. Finally, young people can engage with and disclose current or historical trauma once those bridges are built.

Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-informed care is a psychological approach that assumes an individual most likely has a history of trauma. This approach focuses on responding appropriately to trauma’s effects. Instead of asking, “What is wrong with this person?” they will ask, “What has happened to this person?.” Trauma-informed care aims to provide necessary services to support the patient and avoid triggering the patient.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapeutic treatment that helps clients identify and change destructive thought patterns that negatively influence their behaviors or emotions. CBT focuses on flashbacks, triggers, and the persistent feeling of shame that happens with Complex PTSD. CBT replaces these adverse reactions with positive ones and beneficial coping methods.

Exposure Therapy

The main goal of exposure therapy is to help individuals confront their fears. Individuals tend to avoid things when they are afraid of them. During exposure therapy, psychologists create a safe environment to help “expose” individuals to what they are scared of. Over time, exposure decreases avoidance and reduces fear.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

The definition of dual diagnosis (also referred to as co-occurring disorders) can differ between institutions. However, it is generally defined as treating someone diagnosed with substance abuse and mental health disorders simultaneously. There is no distinction of whether the mental condition led to substance abuse or vice versa.

Addiction treatment professionals understand that mental health and substance abuse have a complex relationship that is difficult to extricate from.

While there is no single best treatment for comorbid complex PTSD and addiction, research has shown that successful dual-diagnosis treatment uses an integrated approach. Standard therapeutic approaches include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), cognitive processing therapy (CPT), and prolonged exposure therapy (PET).

Medication for CPTSD

Here are the three main types of medications that may be prescribed for individuals with C-PTSD, depending on their symptoms:

  • Antidepressants: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) are commonly prescribed to manage symptoms of depression and anxiety associated with C-PTSD. Examples include medications like Sertraline (Zoloft), Fluoxetine (Prozac), and Venlafaxine (Effexor).
  • Antianxiety medications: Benzodiazepines or certain antianxiety medications like Pregabalin (Lyrica) may be prescribed to help manage severe anxiety or panic attacks. However, these medications are typically used cautiously due to their potential for dependence and withdrawal.
  • Mood stabilizers or antipsychotics: In some cases, mood stabilizers like Lamotrigine (Lamictal) or antipsychotic medications such as Aripiprazole (Abilify) may be considered to address mood swings, irritability, or dissociative symptoms associated with C-PTSD.
Treatment for C PTSD symptoms and emotional abuse trauma often focuses on addressing the symptoms in conjunction with psychological and emotional aspects through therapy and other supportive interventions.
Treatment for C PTSD symptoms and emotional abuse trauma often focuses on addressing the symptoms in conjunction with psychological and emotional aspects through therapy and other supportive interventions.

Learn More:

Medication should be prescribed and monitored by a qualified mental health professional who can assess your specific symptoms, needs, and potential risks and benefits of each drug. Medication is often used in combination with therapy, particularly trauma-focused treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), or dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), to provide a comprehensive approach to managing C-PTSD symptoms.

Finding Treatment for the Symptoms of CPTSD

Given the potential challenges of C-PTSD symptoms, seeking professional guidance and support is recommended. Medical professionals, therapists, and the We Level Up New Jersey dual diagnosis rehab can assist in managing these symptoms and developing strategies for a successful recovery journey.

Get mental health and addiction counseling that works. Discover professional help from We Level Up NJ’s addiction and mental health therapists. Start getting support with a free call to our addiction hotline.

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Top 10 C-PTSD Meaning FAQs

  1. What is CPTSD stand for?

    To define C-PTSD, it stands for complex post-traumatic stress disorder. This mental health condition can develop in response to prolonged and repeated traumatic experiences, often involving interpersonal trauma and a disrupted sense of self and safety. It is characterized by various C-PTSD signs, including emotional dysregulation, flashbacks, self-esteem issues, and difficulties forming and maintaining relationships.

  2. What does a C-PTSD episode feel like?

    The symptoms of complex PTSD can feel overwhelming and distressing. Individuals experiencing it may have intense emotional reactions, such as fear, anger, and sadness, and physical symptoms, like rapid heartbeat, sweating, and trembling. Reminders of past traumatic experiences can trigger these signs of C-PTSD, resulting in dissociation or detachment from the present moment.

  3. What is C PTSD symptoms criteria to have the diagnosis?

    C-PTSD is not in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which mental health professionals often use for diagnosis. Instead, C-PTSD is considered a subset of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and is characterized by a similar set of symptoms, including exposure to prolonged or repeated trauma, disturbances in self-identity, affect regulation, and interpersonal relationships.

    To be diagnosed with C-PTSD, an individual typically needs to meet the criteria for PTSD while exhibiting symptoms related to these additional areas of impairment in self-concept and relationships. However, the diagnosis and understanding of PTSD vs complex PTSD can vary among mental health professionals, and it may not be universally recognized in all diagnostic systems.

  4. What is CPTSD vs PTSD?

    CPTSD versus PTSD? Both conditions are related but have some key differences. While both can develop in response to trauma, C-PTSD is typically associated with prolonged and repeated traumatic experiences, often of an interpersonal nature, and is characterized by a broader range of symptoms, including disturbances in self-identity and relationships. In contrast, PTSD is typically linked to a single traumatic event and has more specific symptoms centered around intrusive memories, avoidance, and hyperarousal.

  5. What causes complex PTSD?

    The complex PTSD causes typically results from exposure to prolonged and repeated traumatic experiences, often involving interpersonal trauma, such as childhood abuse, neglect, domestic violence, or captivity. These ongoing traumatic events can disrupt an individual’s sense of self, safety, and relationships, contributing to developing signs of C PTSD over time.

  6. How to know if you have CPTSD?

    To determine if you might have C-PTSD, it’s essential to consult with a mental health professional, such as a therapist or psychiatrist, who can conduct a comprehensive assessment or a CPTSD vs BPD test. They will consider your symptoms, personal history of trauma, and their impact on your daily life before diagnosing and working with you to develop a treatment plan if necessary.

  7. Can you have PTSD and CPTSD?

    Yes, it is possible to have CPTSD signs and PTSD simultaneously. This can occur when an individual has experienced a single traumatic event that triggers PTSD and ongoing or repeated traumatic experiences that contribute to developing C-PTSD symptoms, resulting in a complex and layered trauma response.

  8. Do I have BPD or CPTSD test?

    Suppose you suspect you have borderline personality disorder (BPD) or complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD). In that case, consulting with a qualified mental health therapist or psychiatrist who can conduct a comprehensive “Do I Have BPD or PTSD Test” assessment and diagnosis is essential. They will use standardized diagnostic criteria and C PTSD vs BPD assessments to determine the most accurate diagnosis and create an appropriate treatment plan if necessary. Self-diagnosis for CPTSD or BPD can be unreliable, so seeking professional help for a proper evaluation and guidance is essential.

  9. What is the main difference between BPD and CPTSD?

    The main difference between borderline personality disorder vs CPTSD is their origins and diagnostic criteria. BPD is a personality disorder characterized by enduring unstable self-image, intense mood swings, and relationship difficulties. At the same time, C-PTSD is typically associated with a history of prolonged and repeated trauma, leading to symptoms such as disturbances in self-identity, affect regulation, and interpersonal relationships.

  10. What is the best medication for C-PTSD?

    No specific medication is approved for treating complex PTSD episode symptoms. However, medicines may be prescribed to address symptoms commonly associated with C-PTSD, such as anxiety, depression, or sleep disturbances. The choice of medication and dosage should be determined by a qualified mental health professional after a thorough evaluation, and treatment often includes therapy as a primary approach for managing C-PTSD symptoms.

C-PTSD Diagnostic Criteria Facts

What is C-PTSD?

C-PTSD definition and “complex PTSD” emerged in 1992 in Dr. Judith Herman’s book “Trauma and Recovery.” It’s commonly abbreviated as CPTSD or C-PTSD. CPTSD derives from trauma resulting from repeated or ongoing traumatic incidents, usually over several months or years.

Is C PTSD a Disability?

Is C-PTSD a disability? Yes. Since people with complex post-traumatic stress disorder qualify for a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, the Social Security Administration will consider them disabled. Also, chronic and complex PTSD has been shown to increase the risk of various health issues and decrease life expectancy.

In civilians with PTSD, one study observed a 54% higher risk of all-cause mortality, a 72% higher risk of cardiovascular mortality, and a 2-fold increase in the risk of external-cause mortality. All-cause mortality was significantly higher for veterans with PTSD compared to the U.S. population.

What's C PTSD? What is CPTSD symptoms in DSM-5? C-PTSD is not a formal diagnosis in all diagnostic systems, and mental health professionals may use different approaches to assess and treat individuals who have experienced complex and prolonged trauma. Nevertheless, qualified mental health professionals should always conduct diagnosis and C PTSD symptoms treatment.
What’s C PTSD? What is CPTSD symptoms in DSM-5? C-PTSD is not a formal diagnosis in all diagnostic systems, and mental health professionals may use different approaches to assess and treat individuals who have experienced complex and prolonged trauma. Nevertheless, qualified mental health professionals should always conduct diagnosis and C PTSD symptoms treatment.


CPTSD and BPD are two different disorders. Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop in response to a traumatic event.

At the same time, borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by a continual pattern of relationship instability and intense but brief periods of extreme emotion. Getting professional help for proper diagnosis is crucial for a more effective treatment approach for complex PTSD and borderline personality disorder.

What is complex PTSD vs PTSD?

To find out the difference between complex PTSD and PTSD, while both can result from exposure to trauma, C-PTSD typically arises from chronic and repeated traumatic experiences, often of an interpersonal nature, such as childhood abuse or long-term captivity. In contrast, PTSD generally is linked to a single traumatic event, such as a car accident or combat exposure.

Complex PTSD Criteria

The complex PTSD definition does not have distinct diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Still, it is often considered a variant of PTSD with additional features related to prolonged and repeated trauma. Here’s a simplified list of some of the standard features associated with C PTSD meaning and diagnosis:

  • Exposure to prolonged or repeated trauma: C-PTSD typically arises from chronic or repetitive traumatic experiences, often interpersonal.
  • Disturbances in self-identity: Individuals with C-PTSD may have a fragmented or unstable sense of self, low self-esteem, or a feeling of emptiness.
  • Affect dysregulation: Emotions can be intense, overwhelming, and challenging to manage, leading to mood swings and emotional reactivity.
  • Impaired relationships: Difficulty in forming and maintaining healthy relationships, including problems with trust, boundaries, and intimacy.
  • Negative self-perception: Persistent feelings of guilt, shame, or worthlessness are common in C-PTSD.
  • Alterations in consciousness: This can include dissociation, depersonalization, or amnesia, where individuals may feel disconnected from their body or surroundings.
  • Somatization: Physical symptoms of stress and trauma, such as chronic pain or gastrointestinal issues, may be present.
  • Persistent symptoms: C-PTSD symptoms often endure and may become chronic if left untreated.

C-PTSD and Interpersonal Relationships

How do C-PTSD and dissociation affect relationships?

  • Difficulty trusting others.
  • Feeling unsafe.
  • Using drugs, alcohol, or behaviors to numb anxiety or distress.
  • Avoiding friends, loved ones, or activities you used to enjoy.

C-PTSD Quotes

 “It becomes difficult to deal with everyday life because you have hidden your soul in a dark corner so it doesn’t have to face the dangerous world of trauma. Without your soul, you are only half a person, a machine constantly running from reality.”

Another common manifestation of complex PTSD signs is avoiding certain events and feelings, fearing they will trigger an episode. In Art With Impact’s exclusive interview with Amy Oestreicher, a Broadway performer who endured severe medical trauma, she discusses how she completely turned off her artistic side for a time. You may also find many helpful C-PTSD books from your therapist’s recommendations.

Ryan Zofay forming a circle and hugging friends.

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C PTSD vs PTSD Statistics

According to the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, cumulative adulthood trauma was associated with PTSD and CPTSD; however, cumulative childhood trauma was more strongly associated with CPTSD than PTSD. Whats C PTSD? Among traumatic stressors occurring in childhood, sexual and physical abuse by caregivers were identified as events related to risk for CPTSD.

In contrast, sexual assault by non-caregivers and abduction were risk factors for PTSD. Adverse childhood events were associated with both PTSD and CPTSD and equally so. Individuals with CPTSD reported substantially higher psychiatric burdens and lower psychological well-being levels than those with PTSD and neither diagnosis.


A population-based study of complex post-traumatic stress disorder in the United States reported the prevalence rates were 3.4% for PTSD and 3.8% for CPTSD.

Source: NCBI

12 Million

About 12 million adults in the U.S. have PTSD during a given year.

Source: NCBI

6 out of 100

About 6 out of every 100 people (or 6%) will have PTSD at some point.

Source: NCBI

In-Depth Look at BPD Versus CPTSD

BPD vs complex PTSD can sometimes be misdiagnosed or confused because they share overlapping symptoms, such as mood swings, relationship difficulties, and emotional dysregulation. Several factors contribute to the potential for borderline vs CPTSD misdiagnosis:

  • Overlap in CPTSD vs Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms: CPTSD BPD conditions involve emotional instability, impulsivity, and issues with self-identity and self-worth, making it challenging to differentiate them based solely on symptoms.
  • Comorbidity: It’s common for individuals to have both C-PTSD and BPD, further complicating diagnosis. They can co-occur, making it challenging to identify the primary diagnosis.
  • Trauma History: Trauma is a common factor in both conditions. BPD may develop as a response to childhood trauma, while C-PTSD specifically relates to prolonged or repeated trauma. Trauma histories can be complex and challenging to unravel.
  • Stigma: There may be stigma associated with both diagnoses, leading to reluctance to seek or provide an accurate diagnosis.

To minimize misdiagnosis, mental health professionals must conduct a thorough assessment, consider the individual’s trauma history, and use validated assessment tools. Moreover, ongoing communication and collaboration between the individual and their healthcare team can help refine the diagnosis if needed. It’s essential for individuals seeking help to be open and honest about their symptoms and experiences to ensure an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

Complex PTSD Test Online Free

Complete the following C PTSD Quizzes to assess the likelihood that you are showing signs of CPTSD or PTSD. Do I Have PTSD or CPTSD Quizzes questions below relate to problems and complaints that people sometimes have in response to traumatic life experiences diagnosed as “PTSD or CPTSD?” When the underlying trauma is repeated or ongoing, mental health professionals may diagnose C-PTSD. Complex post-traumatic stress disorder shares many of the symptoms of PTSD.

However, there are additional symptoms that are unique to C-PTSD. If your Childhood Trauma or Do I Have C-PTSD Quiz questions responses score 50 points or more, contact one of our specialists for further support. If your Complex PTSD Quiz Free questions answers score 50 pts. Or, for each quiz, don’t hesitate to contact one of our specialists for further support.

To minimize C PTSD symptoms misdiagnosis, mental health professionals must conduct a thorough assessment, consider the individual's trauma history, and use validated assessment tools.
To minimize C PTSD symptoms misdiagnosis, mental health professionals must conduct a thorough assessment, consider the individual’s trauma history, and use validated assessment tools.

Overcoming C PTSD Symptoms. Find the Support You Need.

Recovering from a C PTSD episode and addiction is often challenging to go through alone. Many people experience relapses during withdrawal in an attempt to alleviate symptoms and satisfy cravings. However, you can manage withdrawal symptoms and successfully recover with detox and rehab therapy and a robust support system at the We Level Up NJ treatment center. If you require assistance with your rehab journey, contact a We Level Up NJ treatment professional now. Your call is free and confidential.

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If you or someone you care about is struggling with C PTSD symptoms, get them the help they deserve. Contact We Level Up NJ today for a free call and assessment. We can help you explore treatment options.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with C PTSD symptoms, get them the help they deserve. Contact We Level Up NJ today for a free call and assessment. We can help you explore treatment options.

Do I Have Complex PTSD Quiz

This brief test will help determine if you may need to see a mental health professional for the diagnosis and treatment of C PTSD. Only a mental health professional can accurately diagnose C PTSD, and if needed, recommend a treatment plan.

*By taking this free quiz, you may obtain your results online and in your email box. You’ll have the opportunity to opt-in to learn more about your symptoms, talk to a mental health consultant and join our newsletter. Rest assured your information is private and confidential. Results, consultations and assessment are provided without any cost to you and without any obligation. If you do not wish to provide your contact information, you may omit it during your quiz. Thank you for opting in and participating. To you best of health.

Please enter your email:

1. Name:

2. Phone:

3. Have you experienced a significant trauma, such as a natural disaster, an accident, or an episode of violence? Or have you found yourself in ongoing situations such as chronic physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse, domestic violence, or combat?


4. Do you ever feel like you’re sort of stuck on autopilot? Like you’re just existing and trying to stay alive?


5. Have you, whether currently or in the past, often felt repeatedly humiliated by a person or group of people?


6. Have you ever participated in sexual activities after being coerced or pressured into them during a relationship?


7. Have you been exposed to repeated mental or physical abuse episodes, whether you were the victim or a witness to the abuse (such as during childhood)?


8. Have you ever been the victim of stalking?


9. Have you ever dealt with having money, food, personal care items, or other personal needs restricted or kept from you because of a toxic in your life?


10. Have you ever lived in fear of another person or their reactions/behavior for an extended period of time, such as a spouse, partner or parent?


11. Do you have any ongoing habits or addictions, such as food, drugs, shopping, sex, smoking, or alcohol?


12. Do you ever have trouble remembering things?


After completing your Complex PTSD Quiz responses, press submit and await your results. Share your Do I Have Complex PTSD Quiz results with a professional healthcare counselor. If you need help, call the We Level Up New Jersey treatment center advocates for a free Complex PTSD evaluation and consultation. There’s never any obligation. Your call is free and private.

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C PTSD and relationships are challenging to manage with proper mental health treatment. But we need each other’s support. Dating with C-PTSD can be problematic — and frustrating — for many reasons. You want to take away their pain, but you’re also guilty of needing to care for yourself. Maybe, as someone who has a loved one with PTSD, you’re the one looking for help, or “C PTSD therapists near me?” You might give all you can to help your loved one, but the issues surrounding C PTSD symptoms that needed to be addressed called for dedicated commitment, time, and the help of a professional.

The primary C PTSD symptoms treatment is psychotherapy, but it can also include medication. Combining these treatments can help improve the symptoms.

Are you searching for a “C-PTSD therapist near me?” or a C-PTSD therapy center? If you or someone you love is struggling with C PTSD symptoms, get them the safest help they need and deserve. We Level Up NJ offers a dual diagnosis approach to secondary PTSD illness and a primary addiction treatment program related to C-PTSD. Contact our team at We Level Up NJ today to learn more!

Do you have questions about C PTSD symptoms or treatment in general? Call our helpline 24/7.

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  1. How do you explain C-PTSD to someone who doesn’t have it?

    People can end up with PTSD after being in all sorts of situations — war, crises, car crashes, terrorist attacks, sexual assault, abuse, medical procedures, activism, and advocacy, to name a few. Living with C-PTSD, or complex post-traumatic stress disorder, means that you weren’t traumatized by an isolated event but by an ongoing situation.

  2. Why does the C&P exam for PTSD increase get denied?

    VA will deny your case if the C&P examiner does not think you meet the diagnostic criteria for DSM C-PTSD. Sometimes, the C&P examiner diagnoses a veteran with a different psychiatric disorder. In this case, the VA will deny the PTSD case. The C&P examiner’s opinion is what VA usually considers the most persuasive.

  3. Can a C&P examiner and C and P exam for PTSD diagnose PTSD?

    PTSD C&P exam worksheet, sometimes called the VA’s C&P exam PTSD, verifies that the veteran has PTSD, even if they have already received a PTSD diagnosis from a qualified medical professional. Additionally, the PTSD C&P exam questions determine whether the PTSD is service-related and the severity of the condition.

  4. What is the gold standard for diagnosing C-PTSD criteria?

    Are you asking yourself, “Do I have C PTSD?” The CAPS is the gold standard in PTSD assessment. The CAPS-5 is a 30-item structured interview that can be used to make a current (past month) diagnosis of PTSD. The CAPS was designed to be administered by clinicians and clinical researchers with a working knowledge of PTSD but can also be issued by appropriately trained paraprofessionals. The full interview takes 45-60 minutes to help. It stands for Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 (CAPS-5 or C-PTSD DSM).

  5. What questions do they ask for the C-PTSD narcissistic abuse test?

    Narcissistic victim syndrome is a term that collectively describes the specific and often severe effects of selfish manipulation. While this isn’t a recognized mental health condition, many experts acknowledge narcissistic abuse can have a profound, long-lasting impact on mental health. If you think you have C-PTSD from narcissistic abuse, connect with an accredited therapist or a mental health professional expert with PTSD. PTSD assessment may begin using a self-screen. However, a more in-depth C PTSD test is required to diagnose C PTSD narcissistic abuse.

  6. How do I get the highest disability rating for the VA C&P exam for PTSD?

    A 100 percent rating is the highest the VA will award for PTSD or other conditions. To qualify for a 100 percent rating, a veteran with PTSD must have a total occupational and social impairment. They must be completely unable to hold a job or maintain healthy relationships.

  7. How do I get a 100 percent PTSD C and P exam rating?

    Self-injury behaviors and suicide attempts are also consistent with a 100% rating. In addition to this suicidality, a 100% PTSD rating also includes homicidal ideation, in which a veteran might have thoughts of harming others.

  8. What qualifies as a traumatic event for the 2nd C&P exam for PTSD?

    Types of events that can lead to PTSD include serious accidents. Physical or sexual assault. Abuse, including childhood or domestic abuse.

  9. Is there a C&P exam for sleep apnea secondary to PTSD?

    For the VA to consider disability benefits for sleep apnea, you must file a claim. The VA will usually request a Compensation and Pension exam. The examining physician will likely request you perform a sleep study and ask questions about your service.

  10. How to pass a PTSD C&P exam?

    No C&P exam for PTSD can be done outside accredited platforms. To pass the exam: Give examples of problems with work, school, or relationships. Describe your difficulty adjusting to civilian life. Talk about if you were no longer interested in activities you once enjoyed. Give specific examples of your C PTSD symptoms. Discuss your unique situation if you think you have C-PTSD and autism, PTSD-C, and addiction to your examiner.

What are C PTSD Symptoms? Video

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder emerges when an individual confronts prolonged or repetitive trauma, spanning various contexts such as war, imprisonment, human trafficking, or enduring child abuse or abusive relationships. These experiences often involve a sense of captivity, leaving the victim unable to escape swiftly.

The effects of C-PTSD are not solely psychological; they extend into physical realms. Individuals may grapple with sleep disturbances, stomach pains, chronic pain, fatigue, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular problems, weight changes, sexual dysfunction, neurological symptoms, and sensory hypersensitivity. These manifestations vary among individuals, highlighting the diverse impact of C-PTSD.

Learn About Anxiety Disorder Facts and Anxiety Treatment Programs That Can Help You

Anxiety is one of the primary symptoms commonly associated with C-PTSD symptoms. People with C-PTSD often experience heightened anxiety levels, which can manifest as generalized anxiety, panic attacks, and hypervigilance. However, C-PTSD involves a range of symptoms beyond anxiety, including disturbances in self-identity, emotional regulation, interpersonal relationships, flashbacks, nightmares, and dissociation.

Treatment for C-PTSD typically addresses these various symptoms through therapy and, in some cases, medication for anxiety and related issues. Learn more about anxiety disorders from the video below.

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Search We Level Up NJ C-PTSD Symptoms, Mental Health Topics & Resources

[1] Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

[2] Giourou E, Skokou M, Andrew SP, Alexopoulou K, Gourzis P, Jelastopulu E. Complex posttraumatic stress disorder: The need to consolidate a distinct clinical syndrome or to reevaluate features of psychiatric disorders following interpersonal trauma? World J Psychiatry. 2018 Mar 22;8(1):12-19. DOI: 10.5498/wjp.v8.i1.12. PMID: 29568727; PMCID: PMC5862650.

[3] Complex PTSD – U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA.gov)

[4] Cloitre M, Hyland P, Bisson JI, Brewin CR, Roberts NP, Karatzias T, Shevlin M. ICD-11 Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in the United States: A Population-Based Study. J Trauma Stress. 2019 Dec;32(6):833-842. DOI: 10.1002/jts.22454. Epub 2019 Dec 4. PMID: 31800131.

[5] Recognizing and Treating Child Traumatic Stress – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA.gov)

[6] Controversy Over Repressed Memories – Office of Justice Programs (OJP.gov)

[7] Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

[8] De Bellis MD, Zisk A. The biological effects of childhood trauma. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2014 Apr;23(2):185-222, vii. DOI: 10.1016/j.chc.2014.01.002. Epub 2014 Feb 16. PMID: 24656576; PMCID: PMC3968319.

[9] Kleber RJ. Trauma and Public Mental Health: A Focused Review. Front Psychiatry. 2019 Jun 25;10:451. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00451. PMID: 31293461; PMCID: PMC6603306.

[10] We Level Up – Mental Health » Trauma Treatment