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Signs of Complex Trauma (C-PTSD)



Are all signs of C-PTSD unusual? The psychiatric community normally cluster them separately and call them “disorders.” If you think about it, the criteria on the DSM is basically how you organize complex trauma symptoms (symptoms that represent the type of dysregulation of their nervous system functioning), and we could even include many of the physical illnesses.


The long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all the body's processes, especially if that occurs in childhood, while the brain and most organs are developing.

Trauma produces a “reorganization” of the way mind and brain manage perceptions among all the alterations that the brain suffers from. This has repercussions on the development of the self and everything involved, which causes alterations in personality and behavior.

So, even action like “not noticing” the inadequacy of some of your behavior may be an unusual sign of complex trauma that correspond to dissociation and lack of awareness, but almost nobody will notice that until the person is maybe in therapy.


So, for the sake of giving everybody the chance to find unusual signs, here is a long list of manifestations of complex trauma:

  • Personality/Behavior distress: fear, the subjective experience of danger, is the core emotion and the primary dysrhythmia in developmental trauma, and in PTSD. So, fearfulness for ridiculous things could be unusual

  • Extreme emotions and overreactions

  • Lack of tolerance of emotions, own or others

  • Rapid shifts from one feeling state to another: calm then terrified, reasonable then enraged

  • Difficulty concentrating, restlessness, fidgety

  • Fast speech without time to breath

  • The chest is inward or protruding

  • Hypersensitivity to light, sounds, noise

  • Rapids shifts in attitudes towards others: “I love you, I hate you”

  • Alterations in consciousness/Transient dissociation

  • Alterations in self-perception – shame and guilt

  • Emotional intensity

  • Incongruent emotional manifestations: laugh while recounting sad stories

  • Lack of awareness

  • Incongruent conversation: responds something from a different subject

  • Physical symptoms with no medical cause

  • Always leaving relationships/Can’t leave a bad relationship

  • Instead of forming specific memories of the full event, people who have been traumatized remember images, sights, sounds, and physical sensations without much context

  • Losing the capacity to organize experience into logical sequences and to translate feelings and perception into words

  • Difficulty integrating sensory information

  • Autoimmune deceases like Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Heart-related problems and disease

  • Respiratory system-related problems and disease

  • Digestive problems: irritable bowel, digestive issues, diarrhea, constipation

  • Reproductive system-related problems

  • Diabetes

  • Chronic pain Pain/Fibromyalgia

  • PNES are attacks that may look like epileptic seizures but are not epileptic and instead are caused by psychological factors.

  • Perception distortion

  • Impaired sense of self

  • Sudden changes in behavior

  • Impaired self-awareness

  • Resilience may erode slowly

  • Resilience drops quickly

  • Persistent Illness

  • Becoming isolated or over clingy

  • Moodiness

  • Overreaction to normal stress

  • Easily depressed

  • Crying without reason

  • Fake crying

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Poor memory

  • Risky Behavior

  • Lack of Hope

  • Ringing in ears

  • Cold skin and clammy

  • Turning pale

  • Irritable,

  • Aggressive, labile, fearful

  • Victim role

  • Intimidating,

  • manipulative

  • Escapist

  • Hyper-critical

  • Difficult to relate to, to trust, or depend upon.

  • Mistrustful

  • Paranoid

  • Dependent

  • Display of disorganized attachment patterns

  • Impulsive

  • hyper-sensitive

  • hyper-vigilant

  • Distracted

  • Restless

  • Withdrawn

  • Self-absorbed

  • Disturbed body/self-image

  • Alterations in self-perception

  • Extreme inexplicable shame and guilt

  • Dissociation

  • Depersonalization

  • Derealization

  • Complainers of psychosomatic physical ailments or diseases

  • Somatization

  • Paranoia

  • Fear of death

  • Physical symptoms with no medical cause

  • Bitterness/fear toward God or others

  • Confusion/disgust with God or religion

  • Loss of trust in God and/or clergy

  • Waiting for God to fix it

  • Despair related to the perceived loss of spirituality

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