Living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) can be extremely challenging. If you or someone you know is experiencing C-PTSD, it’s important to be aware the 17 symptoms of complex PTSD. It’s not easy to recognize all of the signs and symptoms associated with this condition, so having knowledge of what to look for can be invaluable. Learning what are the 17 symptoms of complex PTSD, so you can have a better understanding of what this disorder entails.
What are the 17 Symptoms of Complex PTSD
1. Feeling Isolated and Alone
One of the most common symptoms of complex PTSD is feeling isolated and alone. This feeling often stems from the fact that people with complex PTSD often feel like they can’t relate to others.
They may feel like no one understands what they’re going through, or like they’re the only ones who have experienced such trauma.
Feeling isolated and alone can be incredibly difficult, especially if you’re already dealing with the effects of trauma.
It can make it hard to connect with others and can make you feel like you’re living in a completely different world than those around you. You may feel like you’re on the outside looking in, and like you’re constantly struggling to be understood.
If you’re feeling isolated and alone, it’s important to know that you’re not alone in feeling this way. Many people with complex PTSD experience these same feelings, and it’s okay to reach out for help and support.
You may find that connecting with others who have gone through similar experiences can be incredibly helpful in combating feelings of isolation and loneliness.
2. Feeling Like You’re Not Good Enough
Feeling like you are not good enough can manifest in various ways including feeling like a failure, feeling inadequate, and having low self-esteem.
Individuals with complex PTSD may constantly compare themselves to others, feeling as if they don’t measure up. They may also struggle with self-doubt and feel as if they can’t do anything right.
These feelings of inadequacy can be triggered by various situations, such as making a mistake at work, receiving criticism, or failing to meet personal goals.
Individuals with complex PTSD may also have an internal critic that constantly puts them down, telling them they’re not good enough or don’t deserve happiness.
Feeling like you’re not good enough can impact many areas of your life, including relationships, work, and self-care. You may avoid new challenges or opportunities for fear of failure or rejection.
This can lead to a lack of personal growth and fulfillment. You may also struggle to form close connections with others, feeling as if they’ll discover you’re not good enough and leave.
3. Struggling With Self-Loathing
People who are dealing with self-loathing often feel deep-seated shame and worthlessness, no matter how successful or accomplished they may be in other areas of their lives. This can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair, as well as a reluctance to seek help or support from others.
Self-loathing can manifest in a number of ways, including negative self-talk, self-sabotage, and self-harm. It may be fueled by a belief that the trauma was somehow their fault, or that they are inherently flawed or defective in some way.
Over time, this can erode a person’s self-esteem and self-worth, making it difficult for them to form healthy relationships or achieve their goals.
4. Feeling Hopeless
One of the most overwhelming symptoms of complex PTSD is feeling hopeless. When you experience trauma, it can leave you feeling as if you have lost control over your life. This loss of control can lead to feelings of hopelessness, leaving you with a deep sense of despair and helplessness.
It is important to understand that feeling hopeless is a normal response to trauma. When you have experienced trauma, it can feel as if your entire world has been turned upside down, and the future looks bleak. You may feel as though there is no way out and that things will never get better.
However, it is important to remember that these feelings are not permanent. With time, patience, and the right treatment, you can work through your trauma and start to regain control of your life. While it may be difficult, it is important to remember that there is hope.
Learning what is the 17 symptoms of complex PTSD can help you get the proper care you need to begin the road to recovery.
5. Feeling Like There’s No Way Out
Another symptom of complex PTSD is feeling like there’s no way out. This can feel like you’re stuck in your trauma and there’s no escape from the memories, thoughts, and emotions that come with it. You may feel hopeless, helpless, and like your situation will never improve.
It’s important to remember that there is always a way out, even if it may not feel like it right now. Seeking therapy or counseling can be a great first step in finding ways to cope with your trauma and working towards healing. You may also find comfort in support groups or speaking with loved ones who can offer understanding and encouragement.
Taking small steps towards self-care and self-love can also help shift your perspective and give you a sense of control over your life. This can include practicing mindfulness, engaging in activities that bring you joy, and taking care of your physical health.
It’s important to remember that healing is a process and it takes time. It’s okay to feel like there’s no way out at times, but there are always resources and support available to help you navigate through the difficult moments. You are not alone in your journey toward healing.
6. Feeling Numb or Disconnected From Your Emotions
Complex PTSD can lead to a feeling of numbness or disconnection from your emotions. You may feel as if you are emotionally cut off from the world around you. This disconnection can occur as a result of the overwhelming emotional pain caused by traumatic experiences.
This emotional numbness can manifest itself in various ways. For instance, you may feel a lack of interest or excitement in activities that used to bring you joy. You may feel as if you’re just going through the motions, without experiencing any genuine emotional connection.
In some cases, this emotional disconnection may be so intense that you struggle to feel any emotions at all. You may find yourself unable to feel joy, sadness, or anger, leaving you in a perpetual state of apathy.
This feeling of numbness can be frightening and may cause you to feel even more isolated and alone. It’s important to understand that this is a normal response to trauma, and you’re not alone in experiencing this symptom.
7. Feeling Disconnected From Your Body
If you are suffering from complex PTSD, you may feel disconnected from your body. This can manifest in a number of ways, including feeling like your body doesn’t belong to you, feeling like you’re floating outside of your body, or feeling like you can’t feel your body at all.
For many people with complex PTSD, this disconnect can be incredibly distressing. It can feel like your body is betraying you, or like you’re somehow trapped in a physical vessel that you can’t fully control or understand. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and disorientation.
It’s important to remember that feeling disconnected from your body is a common symptom of trauma, and that there are ways to address it.
Some people find that practicing mindfulness or body-centered therapies like yoga or tai chi can help them reconnect with their bodies and feel more present in the moment. Others may benefit from talk therapy, medication, or other forms of treatment.
8. Reliving the Trauma Over and Over Again
One of the most common symptoms of complex PTSD is the feeling of reliving the trauma over and over again. This can take many forms, such as vivid flashbacks, nightmares, or even physical sensations like heart palpitations or sweating.
Reliving the trauma can be incredibly distressing and can make it difficult to engage in daily activities or maintain relationships with others. It can feel like you’re constantly stuck in the past, unable to move forward and make progress toward healing.
Many people with complex PTSD find that they experience reliving the trauma most often when they encounter triggers. These can be anything from certain sounds or smells to specific situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event.
9. Having Intrusive Thoughts about the Trauma
One of the most common symptoms of complex PTSD is having intrusive thoughts about the trauma. These thoughts can come out of nowhere and take over your mind, making it hard to focus on anything else.
These thoughts may include vivid memories of the trauma, flashbacks, nightmares, or even physical sensations that remind you of the trauma. They can be triggered by anything, from a certain smell or sound to a specific situation or person.
It’s important to remember that these intrusive thoughts are a normal part of the healing process. They may feel overwhelming, but they’re actually your brain’s way of trying to process and make sense of the trauma.
If you find yourself experiencing intrusive thoughts, try to ground yourself in the present moment. Use your senses to focus on what’s around you, such as the feeling of the ground beneath your feet or the sound of the birds outside.
10. Feeling Jumpy or on Edge
People with complex PTSD may find themselves constantly on high alert, feeling anxious or agitated, or reacting strongly to sudden or unexpected sounds or movements. This symptom, also known as hyperarousal, is a common reaction to traumatic experiences.
It is the body’s way of preparing for potential danger and is often accompanied by physical sensations such as sweating, heart palpitations, or shortness of breath.
Feeling jumpy or on edge can be exhausting and disruptive to daily life. It can make it difficult to concentrate on work or school, to engage in social activities, or even to get a good night’s sleep.
Some people may turn to substances like drugs or alcohol to try and cope with this symptom, which can lead to addiction and other health problems.
There are several strategies that can help manage feelings of being jumpy or on edge. These include relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation.
Exercise and physical activity can also be beneficial, as they help release tension and improve mood. Therapy, especially modalities like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), can help identify and address underlying triggers and reduce hyperarousal.
If you are experiencing symptoms of complex PTSD, including feeling jumpy or on edge, it is important to seek professional help.
11. Being Easily Irritated
People who suffer from complex PTSD can be prone to feeling irritable, short-tempered, and easily agitated. The reasons behind this can vary, but they are usually tied to the experience of trauma. For instance, survivors of abuse, neglect, or violent incidents often feel angry and resentful as a result of their past experiences.
Being easily irritated can also be linked to other symptoms of complex PTSD, such as feeling anxious, having trouble sleeping, and being hypervigilant. For instance, if you’re constantly on edge and worried about potential danger, you might become irritable as a way of coping with your anxiety.
Additionally, if you’re struggling with flashbacks or intrusive thoughts, you might feel angry or frustrated that you can’t escape from the memories of your trauma.
It’s important to note that being easily irritated is a normal response to trauma. It’s not a sign of weakness or a character flaw. However, it can be challenging to deal with this symptom, especially if it’s impacting your relationships or daily life.
If you’re finding it hard to manage your irritability, there are several strategies that you can try:
- Practice self-care: Make sure that you’re taking care of yourself physically and mentally. Get enough sleep, eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, and do activities that you enjoy.
- Use relaxation techniques: Find ways to calm yourself down when you’re feeling agitated. Deep breathing, meditation, and yoga are all great options.
- Seek support: Talk to a therapist or support group about your experiences. Having a safe space to express your feelings can be helpful.
- Identify triggers: Try to figure out what situations or people tend to trigger your irritability. Once you know your triggers, you can avoid or prepare for them.
- Practice assertiveness: Learn how to express your needs and feelings in a healthy way. This can help you avoid bottling up your emotions, which can lead to increased irritability.
In summary, being easily irritated is a common symptom of complex PTSD. If you’re experiencing this symptom, it’s important to understand that it’s a normal response to trauma and that there are ways to manage it. By taking care of yourself, using relaxation techniques, seeking support, identifying triggers, and practicing assertiveness, you can learn to cope with your irritability in a healthy way.
12. Having Outbursts of Anger
Individuals with complex PTSD often struggle with managing their emotions, and this can lead to frequent outbursts of anger. These outbursts can be triggered by anything that reminds the person of their trauma, such as loud noises or certain words. The anger can feel overwhelming and can result in the person becoming aggressive or violent towards themselves or others.
It’s important to note that these outbursts are not intentional and the person may feel immense guilt and shame after they occur. It’s essential for individuals with complex PTSD to seek therapy to learn how to manage their emotions and develop coping strategies to avoid these outbursts. Some helpful techniques may include deep breathing exercises, mindfulness practices, or grounding exercises.
Furthermore, individuals with complex PTSD who have frequent outbursts of anger may benefit from group therapy where they can learn from others who are going through similar experiences.
Group therapy can provide a safe space to share their struggles and receive support from others who understand what they are going through.
13. Being Hypervigilant
Another symptom of complex PTSD is hypervigilance, which refers to a constant state of heightened alertness. Individuals with complex PTSD are always on the lookout for danger, which can lead to feeling anxious, stressed, or even panicked.
Hypervigilance can manifest in many different ways, such as constantly scanning your surroundings, having a heightened startle response, or being easily startled by sudden movements or noises. This can make it difficult for individuals with complex PTSD to relax and feel at ease, as they are constantly on edge.
Living with hypervigilance can be exhausting and take a toll on your mental and physical health. It can interfere with your ability to function in daily life and lead to increased feelings of anxiety, depression, and irritability.
It’s important to seek professional help if you are experiencing hypervigilance or any other symptoms of complex PTSD. With the right support and treatment, individuals with complex PTSD can learn to manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.
14. Having Trouble Sleeping
Insomnia is a common symptom of complex PTSD. It can manifest as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. Sleep disturbances are often a result of the hypervigilance and intrusive thoughts associated with complex PTSD. Here are a few common sleep problems:
- Nightmares: People with complex PTSD may experience frequent nightmares, which can lead to disturbed sleep and difficulty falling back asleep.
- Flashbacks: When a person with complex PTSD has a flashback, they may feel like they are reliving the traumatic event. Flashbacks can occur at any time, but they are especially common at night.
- Hypervigilance: Those with complex PTSD may have difficulty relaxing enough to fall asleep because they feel constantly alert to potential danger.
- Anxiety: Complex PTSD often includes feelings of anxiety, which can make it hard to calm down and sleep.
- Depression: Insomnia is a common symptom of depression, which often co-occurs with complex PTSD.
To improve sleep quality, it can be helpful to establish a regular sleep routine, avoid caffeine and alcohol, and create a calm and comfortable sleep environment. Therapy, medication, and mindfulness practices such as meditation or deep breathing exercises may also be beneficial in managing sleep disturbances.
15. Struggling With Concentration
Another symptom of complex PTSD is difficulty with concentration. Those suffering from complex PTSD often find it hard to focus on one task and may feel like their thoughts are scattered or disorganized. This can lead to trouble with work or school and can make it hard to complete even simple tasks.
Some people with complex PTSD also experience memory problems. They may forget important dates or appointments or have trouble recalling details of their trauma. This can add to feelings of frustration and hopelessness, and make it hard to move forward.
Knowing what are the 17 symptoms of complex PTSD can help alleviate some of the symptoms you are experiencing.
16. Feeling Like Your Life is Spiraling Out of Control
One of the most distressing symptoms of Complex PTSD is feeling like your life is spiraling out of control. This can manifest in many different ways, such as feeling overwhelmed by everyday tasks, struggling to maintain relationships, or feeling like you have no direction or purpose in life.
If you are experiencing this symptom, it is important to remember that you are not alone. Many people with Complex PTSD struggle with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, especially when they are triggered by reminders of their trauma.
To cope with these feelings, it may be helpful to focus on the things that are within your control. This could mean setting small, achievable goals for yourself each day, such as making your bed or going for a walk. It could also mean seeking out support from friends, family members, or a therapist who can help you navigate the challenges you are facing.
Additionally, practicing self-care can be an important part of managing this symptom. This could mean taking time each day to do something you enjoy, such as reading a book or taking a bath. It could also mean making healthy choices, such as getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet.
Ultimately, if you are feeling like your life is spiraling out of control, it is important to reach out for help. Whether you turn to a therapist, a support group, or a trusted friend, there are people who can help you regain a sense of stability and control in your life. Remember, healing from Complex PTSD is a journey, and it is okay to ask for help along the way.
17. Binge Eating or Not Eating Enough
Another symptom of Complex PTSD that often goes unnoticed is the tendency to binge eat or not eat enough. This can be attributed to the individual’s negative relationship with their body and food, as well as their difficulty regulating their emotions.
For some, food may be used as a coping mechanism to deal with the pain and trauma they have experienced. They may turn to food for comfort or distraction, which can lead to binge eating. On the other hand, others may feel like they don’t deserve to eat or punish themselves by not eating at all.
The effects of binge eating or not eating enough can be severe. Individuals may experience physical health issues such as weight fluctuations, digestive problems, and malnutrition. Additionally, this can further exacerbate the emotional distress that Complex PTSD causes.
If you or someone you know is experiencing this symptom, it is important to seek professional help. A therapist can help the individual identify and address the underlying issues that are causing this behavior.
They may also recommend a nutritionist or dietician to create a healthy eating plan and monitor progress.
Overall, it is crucial to remember that healing from Complex PTSD is a journey and that everyone’s experience is unique. With the right support and treatment, individuals can learn to manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.