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What’s the Difference Between CPTSD and PTSD?

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When someone experiences a traumatic experience or repeated exposure to traumatic events, they can develop PTSD or CPTSD. It is essential to learn the difference between PTSD and CPTSD to understand these mental health disorders better. Furthermore, both of these conditions could lead to addiction when a person attempts to manage their condition on their own. 

What Is PTSD?

PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is a mental health disorder that occurs by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event. People who have PTSD may also experience feelings of guilt, depression, and isolation.

What Is CPTSD?

CPTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) is a trauma-related mental health condition that can develop in response to prolonged exposure to, or repeated experiences of, emotional and physical abuse. Symptoms can include intense feelings of shame and guilt, difficulty forming relationships with others, and an inability to trust.

What’s the Difference Between PTSD and CPTSD? 

The main difference between PTSD and CPTSD is the duration of time and type of trauma experienced. PTSD typically results from a single traumatic event, while CPTSD occurs in response to prolonged and repeated exposure to abuse or trauma. Other differences include the intensity and complexity of the symptoms.

What Type of Trauma Is Associated with PTSD?

The type of trauma associated with PTSD can range from experiencing or witnessing a natural disaster, accidents, physical and sexual assault, war-related combat stress, and death.

What Type of Trauma Is Associated with CPTSD?

The trauma associated with CPTSD is typically prolonged or repeated exposure to emotional and physical abuse, such as childhood neglect, domestic violence, sexual abuse, or verbal abuse.

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

The signs and symptoms of PTSD may include flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts about the traumatic event, emotional numbness, irritability, and difficulty sleeping. In addition, the avoidance of people or places associated with the trauma, hypervigilance (being constantly on guard), feeling detached from others, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems may also be present.

Signs and Symptoms of CPTSD

The signs and symptoms of CPTSD may include intense feelings of guilt, shame, or worthlessness. People also have difficulty forming trusting relationships with others and can experience a distorted sense of blame or self-hatred. 

In addition, some people have an inability to regulate emotions, resulting in frequent mood swings or panic attacks, dissociation (feeling disconnected from one’s body or environment), and suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Are There Similarities Between PTSD and CPTSD?

The primary similarity between PTSD and CPTSD is both conditions involve intense emotional distress related to a traumatic experience. 

Is There a Link Between PTSD and CPTSD and Addiction?

Yes, there is a link between PTSD and CPTSD and addiction. People with PTSD or CPTSD may turn to drugs, alcohol, or other addictive behaviors in an attempt to cope with their traumatic experiences and the associated symptoms.

Why Do People Use Alcohol or Drugs to Treat PTSD and CPTSD?

There can be various reasons why someone will use alcohol or drugs to attempt to treat their PTSD or CPTDS, including the following:

  • To cope with intense emotions and distress associated with the traumatic experience. 
  • To alleviate symptoms such as insomnia, nightmares, and flashbacks. 
  • To reduce feelings of guilt, shame, or worthlessness. 
  • To escape intrusive thoughts about the trauma and feel numb to emotional pain.
  • To self-medicate to manage symptoms without professional help or support from family/friends.

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Can Addiction Put You At Risk of PTSD or CPTSD?

Yes, addiction can put you at risk of developing PTSD or CPTSD. People with substance use disorders may be more likely to experience traumatic events such as physical or sexual assault, accidents, and other forms of violence due to their impaired judgment and ability to make safe choices. Additionally, prolonged exposure to stress associated with addiction can weaken the body’s capacity to cope with trauma.

How Are PTSD and CPTSD Treated?

PTSD and CPTSD are typically treated with a combination of psychotherapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and support from family and friends. Psychotherapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy can help to reduce symptoms by addressing the underlying trauma. 

Medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may also be prescribed to manage symptoms. Additionally, lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, engaging in relaxing activities, reducing stress levels, and avoiding triggers can help improve overall mental health.

How Are Addiction and PTSD or CPTSD Treated?

Addiction and PTSD or CPTSD are typically treated with a combination of psychotherapy, medication, lifestyle changes, addiction treatment, and support from family and friends. Both conditions must be treated simultaneously as a co-occurring or dual-diagnosis disorder. Addiction treatment can include using similar treatments for PTSD or CPTSD, along with 12-step programs, holistic programs, peer support, and group counseling. 

Can PTSD and CPTSD be Cured?

No, PTSD and CPTSD cannot be cured, but effective treatment can manage the conditions. For some people, PTSD or CPTSD can require them to continuously overcome difficulties for much of their life, just like people with addictions. However, one can live a productive and healthy life by taking things one day at a time and following an ongoing care program. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment and Recovery in Murfreesboro, TN 

At Tulip Hill in Murfreesboro, TN, when you have PTSD or CPTSD and are also struggling with addiction, we provide a supportive, safe, and caring environment to begin treatment and recovery. We offer personalized treatment plans customized based on your unique needs. For further information or to start your treatment, contact us today.

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