Make an Appointment: 505-387-3027 |   [email protected]

  • Do You Have C-PTSD?


    You have most likely heard the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – also known as PTSD. It is used to describe the mental and emotional anguish suffered by those who have experienced sudden trauma. PTSD is often experienced by soldiers as well as those who have been victims of rape and other crimes, and even victims of house fires and car accidents.

    Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) describes a condition that very much presents like PTSD, the difference being the sufferer experienced prolonged periods of abuse or neglect. This could happen as a result of childhood neglect or the abuse suffered at the hands of a narcissistic partner.

    Diagnosing C-PTSD

    Diagnosing C-PTSD is tricky because the symptoms are usually not very unique. That is to say, someone who is suffering from C-PTSD may be experiencing anxiety and lethargy, but these symptoms match other mental health issues.

    But it is very important to accurately diagnose C-PTSD because of the necessary treatment measures. The main difference between C-PTSD and other mental health issues – say, bipolar disorder – is that C-PTSD is a result of things that were done TO an individual, and not an intrinsic problem. In other words, someone suffers from C-PTSD because of abuse and neglect at the hands of another and not because of genetically determined brain chemistry.

    To help correctly identify C-PTSD, a therapist must uncover an accurate history to understand if:

    • The individual has experienced multiple prolonged traumas that have lasted for months (or even years)
    • The traumas were caused by someone the individual had a deep interpersonal relationship with and/or someone who was part of their primary care network (most commonly a parent or caregiver)
    • These traumas were experienced as permanent features of life, with the individual unable to see any end in sight
    • The individual had no control or power over the person traumatizing them

    Symptoms of C-PTSD

    As I just mentioned, the outward symptoms of C-PTSD may match other mental health disorders. Those symptoms include:

    • Flashbacks and nightmares in which the trauma is relived.
    • Avoiding people, places, and situations that remind them of the trauma.
    • Dizziness or nausea when remembering the trauma.
    • Hyperarousal. This is a state of high alert and one they often lived in.
    • A belief that the world is a dangerous place.
    • A loss of trust in self or others.
    • Difficulty sleeping and concentrating.
    • Being startled by loud noises.

    Treatment for C-PTSD

    There are a few different treatment options for people suffering from C-PTSD:

    Psychotherapy/Trauma Therapy can take place on a one-to-one basis or in a group setting. The focus will be on addressing feelings, improving connections with others, and dealing with anxiety and flashbacks. I have had success using EMDR and Brainspotting helping people cope with the symptoms of C-PTSD.


    EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. This is a process that uses eye movement to help a person desensitize their reactions to a specific traumatic event. The result is the person can eventually recall the memory but have no emotional reaction to it.

    Brainspotting (BSP)

    Brainspotting is a cutting-edge neuro-experiential Trauma Therapy that works to access stored trauma in our subcortical brain (limbic brain). We focus our eyes on what is called a “brain spot,” which is connected to unprocessed trauma. By gazing at this point of vision, the stored trauma discharges and is processed; a client often feels immediate relief or a change within 24-48 hours of the first session.


    Some individuals may need to be on medications for a while to reduce their anxiety. A therapist can work with you to determine if this is the best course of action.

    If you believe you are suffering from C-PTSD and would like to explore these limbic system Trauma Treatment options, please reach out and either submit a contact form on our website or give me a call at 505-387-3027. I’d be happy to discuss how I may be able to help, as a Certified Brainspotting Therapist.