Circumstances that aggravates Complex PTSD:
- that the trauma occurs at an early age – the younger the child, the worse the trauma
- that the trauma is caused by a parent or other caregiver or a sibling
- that there is a serious trauma
- that the trauma continues for a long time
- that the victim is isolated
- that the victim is still in contact with the perpetrator or is experiencing threats to his/her security.
Young people who are repeatedly experiencing traumatic situations such as severe neglect, abuse or violence can be diagnosed with Complex PTSD.
How do I know if I have PTSD?
Have you experienced a traumatic event of the kind that is described in the previous entries about PTSD? If you do, you might experience that you:
- have vivid memories, flashbacks or nightmares?
- try to avoid things that remind you of the event?
- feel emotionally numb at times?
- feel irritable and angry and constantly defensive, but without understanding why?
- eat more than usual, or is using more alcohol or drugs than what is normal?
- feel that you have no control over your mood?
- find it difficult to get along with other people?
- must always have something to occupy yourself with, in order to cope with everyday life?
This is what you can do to help yourself feel better:
- live your life as normally as possible
- get daily routines
- talk about what has happened to someone you trust
- Try relaxation exercises
- continue to work
- eat and exercise regularly
- go back to where the traumatic event occurred
- take time to be with family and friends
- be careful when driving – your concentration may be poor
- be more careful in general, because the risk of being involved in accidents can be larger
- speak to a doctor
- have the expectation that you will feel better.
Don’t do this!
- do not blame yourself – to have symptoms of PTSD is not a sign of weakness. It’s a normal person’s normal reaction to frightening events.
- do not oppress your feelings. If you have developed PTSD symptoms, seek help, because treatment is often very successful.
- avoid talking about it
- expect that the memories will disappear immediately. They may be with you for quite some time
- set too high standards for yourself. Instead, try to relax, while adapting to what has happened.
- stay away from other people
- drink a lot of alcohol or coffee or smoke more
- becoming overly tired
- do not skip meals
- do not go on holiday/vacation alone
What can prevent complex PTSD from abating?
You may find that other people:
- don’t want to let you talk about your problems
- avoid you
- are angry with you
- think of you as weak
- blame you
This is just a way for other people to try to protect themselves, not having to think about gruesome or frightening events. This will however not help you, as it does not give you the chance to talk through what has happened. And it’s hard to talk about these things.
A traumatic event can put a person into a trance-like state that makes the situation seem unreal or bewildering. And it can be even harder to deal with if you do not remember or understand what was happening or can express it in words.
Now the entry is over for this time. Please, take care of yourself and others. Thank you. See you if you wish to, next week.
© Helén Varenius – text and photo