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Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder commonly includes symptoms such as:

  • Reliving traumatic events, including vivid flashbacks that can feel as if the trauma is happening all over again in real time
  • Intrusive thoughts and images relating to the trauma
  • Recurring nightmares
  • Panic attacks when reminded of the trauma
  • Emotions resting on the surface: can feel easily upset or angry
  • Difficulty controlling responses when reminded of the trauma
  • Self-destructive or self-medicating behaviour such as excessive drinking or self-harm: alcohol or substances may be used to blot out traumatic memories
  • Being in a state of hypervigilance or extreme alertness
  • A sense of being detached from your body, identity, or emotions (depersonalisation)
  • Feeling as if the world is not real and seeing it through a fog, with objects changing in shape, size, or colour (derealisation)
  • Emotional numbness and the inability to give or receive affection
  • Overwhelming feelings of guilt, sometimes linked to surviving a violent event that others did not, and blaming themselves for what happened
  • Depression and withdrawing from everyday life and people around them
  • Avoiding anything that could remind them of the trauma, feeling constantly unsafe and finding it impossible to trust anyone

Symptoms of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD)

Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may include any of the same symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, but has additional symptoms including:

  • Feeling persistently suicidal
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or irreparably damaged as a person
  • Difficulty regulating emotions
  • Avoiding relationships with others or finding them extremely difficult to maintain
  • Regularly experiencing dissociative symptoms
  • Feeling as though no one can ever understand you or your experiences
  • Emotional flashbacks, sudden and intense feelings related to a trauma such as horror, sadness, or fear, often without being able to identify the cause
  • Body memories, re-experiencing the physical sensations of a trauma
  • Feelings of “existential” aloneness, a fundamental difference to others
  • Somatic (bodily) complaints such as unexplained pain, non-epileptic seizures, or temporary paralysis

CPTSD is a relatively new term used by mental health professionals. It is designed to recognise that there are often additional symptoms experienced after prolonged trauma that Simple PTSD does not encompass. Our understanding of reactions to trauma is always evolving; some people believe that CPTSD may be often misdiagnosed as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Others understand BPD as a different and distinct reaction to trauma to CPTSD or in response to having your feelings chronically devalidated.

Symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

Dissociative Identity Disorder is a complex condition whereby a person has two or more distinct identities, separated by varying degrees of amnesia. These may be referred to as alters, parts, aspects, identities, states, or self-states. Collectively, all the identities in one body are referred to as a “system”.

  • Alters can be different ages, genders, and sexual orientations. Non-human alters are possible: animals, fairies, and ghosts to name a few. Each alter can have different mannerisms, accents, likes, and dislikes; they can be as complex an individual as anybody else.
  • Alters can be of any age regardless of the age of the body they inhabit. Alters can change age (known as “age sliding”) at different times depending on external and internal factors; others may have a birthday and age yearly; some may always stay the same age. It is also possible for alters to be ageless. Alters may behave in ways that the person later regrets or is distressed by
  • A person may be unable to remember what each alter has said or done when they are in control of actions due to the dissociation from self
  • A person may not have any control over when alters emerge and recede

What are the signs of trauma becoming a mental health concern?

What causes the development of post-traumatic disorders?

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

How else can trauma manifest itself, other than as PTSD?

Does everyone who has experienced trauma develop post-traumatic disorders?

Does everyone experience PTSD in the same way?