How to Identify Complex PTSD Symptoms Easily

While it may not be acknowledged in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, many clinicians find that complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a unique mental health concern that comes with its own set of struggles. It has additional symptoms above and beyond those of regular PTSD, leading many to treat it differently. This complex PTSD test can help you to figure out if it is affecting your daily life.

Emerald Isle Health & Recovery is familiar with all types of post-traumatic stress disorder and we want to offer you the care that you require. With our team of trained mental health professionals at the ready, we are here for you in your moment of need.

If you score high on this test, consider reaching out to us today to start tackling your symptoms.

What is Complex PTSD?

What is Complex PTSD

Most people are already familiar with the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, but complex PTSD is lesser known. It involves many of the same symptoms, but it differs in one significant way: instead of a one-time event, you likely have repeated trauma.

This often applies to people are survivors of repeated sexual abuse, physical abuse, domestic violence, and other ongoing situations.

It is a type of anxiety disorder that may give you flashbacks, make it hard for you to function in daily life, and make its more likely that you will avoid situations. Emotional regulation is extremely difficult. All of the same PTSD symptoms exist but they may have some other symptoms as well, making an accurate diagnosis a bit more challenging.

Repeated Trauma and Other Signs of Complex PTSD

Some of the most prevalent symptoms that accompany a complex post-traumatic stress disorder include:

  • Struggle to control emotions including irritability or anger
  • Social isolation and lack of connection with others
  • Perceived feelings of worthlessness, shame, or guilt
  • Re-experiencing the traumatic event (flashbacks, intrusive memories, nightmares, etc.)
  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
  • Somatic symptoms (stomachache, headache, etc.)
  • Co-occurring mental disorders like depression or anxiety

These symptoms often interfere with your ability to live a healthy and productive life. You may experience breakdowns in your close relationships or issues with performance in your career. Even if you don’t have another existing mental illness like borderline personality disorder, you might still experience a disruption of your life.

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Complex PTSD Test Questions

If you are wondering whether complex post-traumatic stress disorder could be influencing your life as an accurate diagnosis, this test can help you to uncover when to seek intervention from a mental health professional.

Honestly evaluate your answers to the following questions to determine your risk for developing complex PTSD. Answer each one with a yes, no, or uncertain while taking care to note which ones may be problematic for you.

  1. Do you have problems focusing or paying attention in your daily life?
  2. Have you experienced the symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental disorders?
  3. When something major happens emotionally, do you often feel numb?
  4. Do you avoid relationships or become excessively clingy in your relationships?
  5. Have you damaged important relationships with others because of inappropriate reactions or excessive feelings of anger, jealousy, or sadness?
  6. Do you tend to have more conflict in your social life, work life, and family life compared to others?
  7. Do you stay in unhealthy relationships because you are afraid of being alone or being abandoned?
  8. Do you remain in relationships with no love or happiness because you prefer not to be alone?
  9. Do you avoid social situations because it is difficult to be around others?
  10. Do you have difficulty setting boundaries with others?
  11. Do you have a pattern of developing relationships characterized by domestic violence or constant arguing?
  12. Do you consistently feel alone or unloved, regardless of the behavior of those closest to you?
  13. Do you feel separated from those who should mean the most to you?
  14. Do you struggle with addiction (substance abuse, gambling, sex, love, shopping, etc.)?
  15. Do you start lots of projects but rarely see them through to completion?
  16. Do you frequently lose focus or find yourself blanking out during ordinary routines?
  17. When doing something you have done before proficiently, do you sometimes find that you have a hard time completing the task if you are hurried or have a deadline?
  18. Do you struggle with clumsiness like dropping items or frequently tripping?
  19. Are you experiencing health problems that seem to have no direct cause?

Scoring Your Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Test

Out of the 19 questions listed above, consider how many times you answered yes. If you answered yes to half of the questions or a majority of the questions, then you should consider seeking professional help for complex PTSD.

Traumatic events can influence every area of your life. As you can see from these questions, it impacts your social life and professional life. Even your ability to function without somatic complaints like headaches or stomachaches is impacted. The effects of complex PTSD are relatively far-reaching which is why seeking treatment is paramount.

It can require intense treatment to find your footing in healing from these events.

If you endured repeated trauma, you might find that you are more affected by some of these symptoms than the classic signs of PTSD. You may still experience flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, and avoidance of triggers of the traumatic event. However, complex PTSD symptoms more closely align with the questions in this test along with these hallmarks.

What Causes Complex PTSD?

What Causes Complex PTSD

Maybe you took this test and realized that you scored high in the symptoms related to complex PTSD but you are unsure if you meet the criteria. Going through any type of traumatic event is enough to qualify you for post-traumatic stress disorder. This can include one-time events like car accidents or witnessing a death.

Complex PTSD is a bit more complicated and is tied to repeated events. You may have witnessed domestic violence, been the victim of sexual abuse, lived through war either as a participant or witness, or experienced childhood trauma.

The key here is exposure to multiple traumas over an extended period of time.

For those who experienced just one brief trauma, it is likely PTSD instead of complex PTSD. On the other hand, if you experienced prolonged exposure to traumatic events and scored high on this test, you may have complex post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Effective Treatment Options for Complex PTSD

The good news is that there are plenty of options for treatment when it comes to complex post traumatic stress disorder. Emerald Isle Health and Recovery is pleased to offer a comprehensive treatment plan that can touch on all aspects of your healing and wellness.

Consider some of these therapies that can help you adjust and minimize your PTSD symptoms. Many of them are available at both an inpatient and an outpatient level, depending on what your needs are and how you feel most comfortable receiving treatment.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Change Thoughts, Feelings, and Actions

Many people struggle with the thoughts and feelings that impact their sense of self. Traumatic events can alter the way you interact with the world and the people around you. In this way, they can impact your thoughts and feelings that are directly linked to your actions. This is where cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) comes into play.

CBT is designed to help you change negative self-perception and thought patterns. If you can alter the way you perceive the world around you and how you feel about it, it becomes easier to change your actions. All three areas are closely linked together so changing even one of the components can have a positive impact on the others.

Specifically, you might want to look for a clinician who is skilled in trauma-focused CBT which is highly specialized. This is ideal for helping you process prolonged exposure to stressful and catastrophic events. It may take a bit longer to work through your thoughts and feelings if you have complex PTSD versus regular PTSD, but the basic framework is much the same.

Group Therapy for Increased Peer Support

Group Therapy for Increased Peer Support

Many people who struggle with complex PTSD have the tendency to disrupt healthy relationships in their life or isolate themselves. It can be lonely, frustrating, and even exhausting to live without social connection. To this end, many therapists recommend group therapy for those who have some of the additional symptoms associated with complex PTSD.

Group therapy gives you a default connection to peers who may have experienced similar trauma and have some of the same struggles. You will be under the skilled care of a group therapist who can manage and maneuver through tricky relationships.

The benefit of group therapy is not only that you will have some sort of social connection in your life. It also allows you to learn from the experiences of others which may make your own journey significantly easier.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for Coping Skills

Oftentimes, people do not have the skills in their emotional health toolbox in order to process complex trauma or underlying mental illness. This is a serious mental health condition and you need to treat it as such. Part of complex PTSD treatment is engaging in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) to give you skills for coping with memories as they occur.

While many people may try breathing exercises to ground themselves, DBT offers more than just deep breathing. It also relies heavily on mindfulness exercises to keep you grounded in the present moment. You might pay attention to the sensations in your body or watch your thoughts float on a leaf down the river. Even mindful eating can be a great way to engage the senses and limit the memory of your trauma.

The more coping skills you can put in your repertoire, the more likely you are to find that it is easier to cope with complex trauma.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing to Alter Intrusive Thoughts

If you have lots of intrusive thoughts and memories that stem from your chronic trauma, you might want to consider eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, better known as EMDR. This type of treatment utilizes bilateral eye movements, tapping, or tones to help you think about your trauma and reprocess it.

The idea here is that repeated eye movements are similar to how your body moves through REM sleep. This stage of sleep is responsible for helping you to process the memories of the day. However, you might be able to tap into this even while awake using EMDR therapy.

A licensed mental health professional who is trained in EMDR can help you to enter into this unconscious state in order to reprocess and better file away some of the traumatic memories you may have.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy to Adjust to Traumatic Memories

One last piece of talk therapy could include prolonged exposure therapy which can help with emotional regulation. You will spend time immersed in and confronting your trauma, no matter whether it was childhood trauma, a car accident, a natural disaster, or something else altogether.

This type of cognitive processing therapy is key to helping you face what you have been through and find creative ways of moving past it. Under the guidance of a skilled therapist, you will not be re-traumatizing yourself as you will work up to this gradually.

Once confronted with your trauma, you can start to develop a plan for handling those uncomfortable feelings. This might include some DBT exercises or the ability to reprocess through EMDR.

Inpatient Treatment for Immediate and Intense Clinical Help

Some people have put off addressing their chronic trauma until their lives become unmanageable. They may be thinking of hurting themselves or others. It may come to light that they simply are no longer managing the expectations of others in their daily relationships or work responsibilities.

All of this could necessitate the need for intense and immediate clinical help through inpatient treatment.

Inpatient treatment is great for those who need to take a step back from their responsibilities in order to focus completely on their treatment for a while. It can provide the jumpstart needed to make significant headway in processing traumatic events.

Not to mention, Emerald Isle is a completely safe environment that will take care of both your physical and emotional needs. You can focus wholly on managing your mental health while allowing us to take care of the rest. Our team of skilled clinicians is always available to help you through a difficult time.

Outpatient Treatment for More Flexibility

Outpatient Treatment for Flexibility

On the other hand, some clients prefer to have a bit more flexibility in their treatment plans. For example, they may still want to attend work part-time or spend the evenings with their family members. If you feel supported and well enough to remain in a home setting during your treatment, outpatient might be the right fit for you.

Emerald Isle allows you to pursue outpatient treatment on a schedule that works best for you. You are free to come and go as you please, so long as you attend all scheduled sessions with your treatment team.

We even offer a partial hospitalization program that can help bridge the gap between inpatient and outpatient. In this program, you will stay in our facility all day long, attending therapy sessions, group therapy, medication management, and more. The benefit is that you get to return home each evening to sleep in your own bed.

No matter what level of treatment you need, Emerald Isle has a solution that will give you the much-needed support that you need and have been craving. We can help you to combat complex PTSD symptoms head-on so that you can live a healthy and productive life.

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Finding the Right Treatment for Complex PTSD at Emerald Isle

If you have lived through more than one traumatic event, it is quite possible that you are struggling with an anxiety disorder like complex PTSD. You will need professional help to guide you through the healing process so that you can face your trauma head-on. Emerald Isle wants to offer you the support that you require in your time of need.

Whether inpatient, outpatient, or partial hospitalization is right for you, we can devise a treatment plan that meets your needs. Honestly consider the answers to this test and if you find that you identify with most of the questions, then it is time to reach out for additional help.

Contact us today for a confidential discussion to learn more about how Emerald Isle can help you or a loved one cope with trauma and move into new ways of living!