Different types of PTSD

Jul 08, 2018


They are very important questions to be clear about 😊

Classical/normal/standard PTSD

  • is from a once-off event
  • e.g. a car accident, natural disasters, an assault armed robbery….


So, it's a once-off and that person gets immediate help, support, medication, and therapy. Then it most often results in acute PTSD, meaning that the symptoms resolve within a short time - three to six months. 

PTSD symptoms are e.g. nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts…


But if for that person the PTSD symptoms persist beyond 3-6 month, then we start speaking of chronic PTSD.


Acute versus chronic is about how long your symptoms last. It's not about how long the traumatic event lasted, but the symptoms of PTSD.


The difference between complex PTSD and standard PTSD

Complex PTSD involves

  • interpersonal trauma
  • where people try to destroy your sense of self, destroy your ability to form attachments and the sense of belonging with other human beings.

That is very different to those once-off events, e.g. car accident.

When your sense of self is destroyed, we are talking about complex PTSD. Even though, we still haven’t managed to get it listed in the DSM yet, many professionals and trauma researchers argued that this adds a very distinctly different component to the classical PTSD symptoms.


While someone with complex PTSD has all the same symptoms as someone with the classical PTSD, they have some additional ones on top, e.g. fragmented sense of self.


Children are most vulnerable to this form of abuse, because their brains are still developing. Children are dependent on adults and still have to work out things like: Who am I, and how do I fit into this world?

If children are exposed to interpersonal trauma it can easily disrupt the development of a healthy sense of self. (So, we reach adulthood with a fragment sense of self and this cruel, horrible, toxic inner critic.)


But this doesn't only happen in childhood. Adults can develop complex PTSD when experiencing trauma in adulthood, even though they may have had a very healthy upbringing.

It can occur in adulthood, if for some reason, you are held captive, cults, torture, military prisons, … and you were exposed to what is often referred to as brainwashing. 

Brainwashing essentially means that people are trying to break down another person's sense of self, their ability to trust other people, and their ability to connect with other people.

Again, even if it's in adulthood, if it destroys your senses of self, then we talk about complex PTSD.


I hope this helped clarify things a little for you.

I belief that there are similarities, but also distinct differences between complex and classical PTSD. It is just so so difficult to heal from PTSD and it just takes so so much patience.


So, please be really really kind with yourself. Self-compassion is the key to heal ourselves 😊

(I won’t go into the power of self-compassion in this blog, as I talked a lot about this in other blogs.)


If you have any questions or queries about complex PTSD or anything related, please don’t hesitate to ask. You can always send me an email ([email protected]) or in a comment on any of the social media platforms (follow me on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest…)

I would love to share with you everything I have learnt. I've done so many courses and workshops and spend thousands and thousands of dollars on them. So, if I can do anything to help you to get out of this dark space quicker than I could, I sure will try.

In the meantime, as always, I send you lots and lots of love and rainbows to brighten up the tough times just a little.

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