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If you’ve heard the phrase “complex trauma” or “C-PTSD”, you may be wondering what it is and how complex trauma can affect your mental and physical health. Complex trauma is a type of trauma that happens over a long period of time, often in childhood. It can be caused by many different things, such as emotional/physical/sexual abuse, neglect, or even just witnessing violence.
Complex trauma or C-PTSD (Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) is different from a single event trauma or PTSD in that the individual often experiences frequent repeated exposure to the unsafe or emotionally invalidating environment overtime, such as being around a caretaker on a daily or frequent basis who is invalidating, dismissive, or judgemental towards a child’s emotional experience.
Complex trauma can have a number of effects on your health, both mentally and physically. Therapy can help you heal the effects of complex trauma and live a healthy, happy life. In this blog post, I’ll guide you through understanding complex trauma and its effects on your mental and physical health. I’ll also offer some tips on how to find healing through therapy. If you’re looking for help understanding and dealing with complex trauma, this blog post is for you.
Defining complex trauma and its effects on the mind and body
Complex trauma, or the repeated exposure to physically or emotionally environments – often in childhood, has far-reaching effects on both mind and body. Even if the details of a traumatic event have faded from memory, complex trauma can still lead to physical symptoms such as increased inflammation, weakened immune system and chronic pain that appear unrelated to the original trauma.
This mind-body connection is extremely important to understand, since these physical symptoms may be the only clue of underlying emotional issues stemming from past experiences. Indeed, researchers have been able to show an especially strong connection between psychological traumas and auto-immune disorders — so it’s clear that when it comes to healing complex trauma we must take into account not just thoughts and emotions, but also our somatic – or physical response – to how past complex trauma is stored in our body.
How does complex trauma differ from other types of trauma, such as single-incident trauma or PTSD?
Complex trauma differs from other types of trauma in important ways. Whereas single-incident trauma or PTSD involve acute or intense exposure to one specific event, complex trauma is caused by multiple traumatic experiences over a prolonged period of time. These could be severe acts of neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, or even exposure to violence.
The cumulative nature of the damage inflicted by complex trauma affects the individual’s development and ability to form healthy relationships with those around them. This leads to difficulties with emotional regulation, interpersonal functioning and self-management of needs that can have long-reaching implications on one’s overall wellbeing.
The long-term effects of complex trauma on mental and physical health
Complex trauma has profound and far-reaching physical, mental, and emotional consequences. Many who have experienced trauma carry feelings of guilt, shame and hopelessness. Prolonged exposure to stressors, particularly experiences in early childhood or adolescence, can lead to an increased risk for developing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety and can also result in physical conditions such as chronic illness or inflammation.
However, radical acceptance of life experiences and hope for healing is possible for those who have faced complex trauma. You can gain a greater understanding of your body’s response to trauma while tending to feelings of vulnerability with compassion towards yourself and your experience.
By seeking support from a trauma-informed therapist and allowing yourself time to process traumatic events and their effects on your current life experience you can begin your journey to healing from past complex trauma. With patience and intentional validation of your emotional experience in your journey towards healing from past trauma, you will begin to create safety and control in your life experience and heal from the past.
What are some treatments for complex trauma that can help heal the mind and body after experiencing this type of trauma?
Trauma can be incredibly difficult to overcome, and thankfully there are treatments available that can help the process of healing from trauma. Some effective treatments for complex trauma include Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Somatic Body Work, and Internal Family Systems (IFS).
DBT teaches skills designed to help individuals manage their emotions, regulate behaviors, and improve relationships with others. EMDR is a method of psychotherapy used to treat stress and trauma by decreasing the intensity of traumatic memories through repetitive movements like eye movements. Somatic body work focuses on the physiological effects of trauma in the body with physical touch techniques used to bring balance and safety back to the body (i.e. Chinese Medicine/Acupuncture, trauma-informed massage).
Lastly, Internal Family Systems uses self-awareness and curiosity to reorient negative or unhelpful thought patterns into positive ones by creating compassion towards each part of ourselves and holding space for the multiple aspects of our internal atmospheres that often grow disconnected through trauma. With these helpful treatments available, those who have experienced complex trauma can find relief and hope as they continue on their journey toward healing mind and body.
Resources for further reading and support if you or someone you know is struggling with complex trauma
If you or someone you know is struggling with the effects of complex trauma, there are many resources out there to help. Support can come in the form of books written by mental health professionals, speaking to a trusted friend or family member, or joining an online community centered around healing from trauma. Professional therapy with a trauma-informed and trained therapist can be highly beneficial.
Licensed therapists understand how complex trauma affects a person both mentally and physically and can provide evidence-based treatments that enable individuals to regain control of their lives and move forward in a positive way. No journey towards recovery should be made alone; seeking professional help and support from others is essential for truly understanding the impact of trauma and creating lasting change.
Complex trauma is a type of trauma that can have long-lasting effects on mental and physical health. If you or someone you know is struggling with complex trauma, there are many resources available to help. Some treatments for complex trauma include trauma informed therapies, somatic healing work, and radical acceptance and self-compassion. By understanding complex trauma and its effects, we can begin to heal the mind and body after experiencing this type of trauma.