12 Signs of CPTSD: Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Signs of CPTSD: Complex Post Traumatic Stress DisorderIf you think you might have Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, here are the main signs of CPTSD and healing strategies.

Childhood. It’s supposed to be filled with warm memories of birthday parties, hide-and-seek games, and getting the biggest slice of cake… because why not?

For some, however, childhood isn’t just about spilled ice creams or lost toys. It’s a little darker, a tad more scarring.

Enter CPTSD – Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Unlike its cousin PTSD, which is a reaction to a single traumatic event, CPTSD sprouts from prolonged exposure to trauma.

Usually CPTSD is due to traumatic thoughts and hurtful emotions from your childhood years  – when you were supposed to ONLY be worried about monsters under the bed  – but meanwhile you were constantly wrestling with monster thoughts and feelings in your head.

Overtime these repeated negative thoughts and feelings can create CPTSD.

No worries. I’m here to help.

I’m sharing this guide on Signs of CPTSD because I’m a bestselling author on anxiety and leading Mindset Mastery Coach – with about 2 million books sold globally.

Plus I founded the therapist recommended self-paced online course called The Anxiety Cure.

I love to help people to live calmer, happier lives.

So I decided to do some major research on the signs of CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and share the helpful information I learned with as many people as possible.

12 Signs You Have CPTSD

Let’s dive into the 12 signs that might indicate that your past has not been fully left in the past – and that you might be struggling with the aftermath of childhood trauma.

And remember, the aim here is not to label you as having CPTSD – but to understand and heal your Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

1. Your Brain’s “Focus” Knob is Broken

You know how you can’t find your keys when they’re right in front of you? Imagine that, but with almost everything – attention, memory, even focus. (This also blocks you from hearing your intuition.)

So instead of simply losing your keys… you lose words, feelings, moments, memories.

Science even backs this up. According to studies, prolonged childhood trauma can mess with the hippocampus, the brain’s memory center.

2. You’re Not “Spacing Out” – You’re “Trauma-Drifting”

When faced with decisions or trying to dive into the pool of feelings, you either float above it or feel like you’re drowning, unable to speak or even react.

This isn’t just your average daydreaming. This is a survival mechanism. It’s your brain’s way of saying, “Uh-uh, not going there.”

3. Your Emotional Thermostat is Off

Ever felt like crying when the barista gets your coffee order wrong? Or wanted to scream when the Wi-Fi goes off for just a minute? It might not be just a bad day. Your emotional thermostat might be out of order.

Trauma, especially in childhood, can tinker with our emotional regulation.

4. Relationships? More Like “Relational Roller Coasters”

Every disagreement feels like a steep drop from the highest point. Your family, friends, colleagues, even your mailman – conflicts seem to follow you everywhere.

This isn’t because you’re hard to get along with, but because trauma has set your tracks on a tumultuous ride.

5. Parties? Nope. Crowds? Hell Nope.

sometimes you need to be alone silence joy entranceFor many, parties are about dance, music, and that one drunk friend. For you, it’s a war zone.

The thought of social engagements triggers a fight, flight, or freeze response. Avoidance becomes your BFF. And science gets this!

Research suggests that such avoidance can stem from a need to evade trauma reminders.

6. Alone? Abandoned? Sounds Familiar, Right?

Staying in negative relationships? Always fearing that people will leave you?

That’s your trauma whispering to you, making you believe that you don’t deserve good, healthy relationships.

7. Drawn to the Wrong Crowd?

Prince Harmings or Princess Harmings seem to be your type… right? It’s like you’re a magnet for the unavailable, the abusive, or those that seem hell-bent on self-destruction.

And guess what? This might not just be bad luck, but a symptom of CPTSD.

8. The Mind’s Silent Screams: Anxiety, Depression, and More

The mind has its own ways of coping. Sometimes it whispers with anxiety, sometimes it shouts with depression. And for someone with CPTSD, this becomes an all too familiar song.

9. Puff, Drink, Eat. Rinse and Repeat.

You aren’t just having an extra slice of cake or one more drink. It’s self-medication. You’re trying to numb the pain, even if for a moment. Numerous studies have shown a link between substance abuse and childhood trauma.

10. Your Body’s Battle With the Bulge

Trauma doesn’t just affect the mind. It echoes in our body. Overeating or weight gain is not just about bad diets or lack of exercise. It’s about filling a void, a gaping wound left by trauma.

11. That Weird Ache? It’s Not “Just in Your Head”

Unexplained health problems pop up and doctors seem to be scratching their heads. The thing is, our body sometimes “speaks” the pain the mind can’t voice. A research study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research even links childhood adversities to adult chronic diseases.

12. Alone in a Crowd? Welcome to the CPTSD Club

Feeling separate, alien, different? As if everyone got the memo about life, and you didn’t? It’s not just existential dread. It might be your trauma reminding you of how different your childhood was.

Reminder: Understanding CPTSD is about more than just identifying symptoms.

It’s about empathy, healing, and acknowledging the strength it takes to carry such wounds. It is not about what’s wrong with you. It’s about what happened to you. And the journey to healing starts with recognizing the signs.

4 Strategies For Healing from CPTSD

worry about worst case scenariosCPTSD is a bit like that unwanted guest at your dinner party – the one who eats all your snacks, spills wine on your rug, and just won’t leave.

But… you can’t just kick this guest out. You have to understand them, deal with them, and eventually get them to leave on their terms.

It sounds hard, right?

But hang in there. Healing is a journey, not a pit stop. And here are four strategies to give you a head start.

1. Dive Deep with Therapy (But Not Just Any Therapy)

Not all therapy is created equal. For CPTSD, you might want to explore trauma-focused approaches.

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is like the Avengers of the trauma therapy world. It helps to process traumatic memories by having you recall them while focusing on external stimuli, like the therapist’s moving fingers. It sounds like something sci-fi, but it’s backed by solid science. Research shows that EMDR can significantly reduce PTSD symptoms. And if you’re still unsure about the whole thing, check out this EMDR healing blog for more information on the subject.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is another winner. It’s like having a personal trainer for your brain, helping you challenge and change the distorted thoughts and behaviors CPTSD gifts you.

2. Your Body Remembers, So Make it Forget (Or At Least, Make Peace)

Trauma loves to play hide and seek in your body. Think about that tightness in your chest or that lump in your throat.

For this reason you might want to explore…

  • Somatic therapy. It’s all about tuning into these bodily sensations and letting them tell their story. It combines talk therapy with what feels like a damn good stretch, making you aware of your physical sensations and helping release the pent-up trauma.
  • Plus, yoga and tai chi aren’t just for those looking to flex on Instagram. They’re also helpful for releasing the negative energy stored in your body. When integrated with therapy, they can help in grounding you and reconnecting with your body.

3. Let’s Talk Meds

No, meds aren’t just “happy pills” or an easy way out. Think of them as scaffolding, holding you up while you fix the main structure. Antidepressants, mood stabilizers, even some antipsychotics can be beneficial.

  • But remember, pills aren’t magic. They’re tools. And tools work best when combined with therapy.

Always consult with a psychiatrist or primary care doctor to discuss the potential risks and benefits.

4. Community: Because Healing Isn’t a Solo Sport

Humans are social creatures. Yeah, even you, sitting in your PJs watching Netflix alone.

Connecting with others, especially those who’ve walked in your shoes, can be therapeutic.

  • Seek out support groups, online forums, or communities that specialize in trauma.

It’s not just about talking. It’s about being heard, understood, and validated.

Conclusion: Signs of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Healing from CPTSD isn’t about “fixing” yourself because you aren’t broken. It’s about understanding, accepting, and moving forward, with a bit of humor and a lot of patience. The road to recovery isn’t straight, and it sure as hell isn’t smooth. But with the right strategies and support, you can make this journey a story worth telling.

Get More Support for CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Explore one 1 on 1 Mindset Mastery Consulting. Or enroll in my therapist recommended audio and video course: The Anxiety Cure.

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