Complex PTSD

Complex PTSD may be diagnosed in adults or children who have repeatedly experienced traumatic events, such as violence, neglect or abuse.

Complex PTSD is thought to be more severe if:

  • the traumatic events happened early in life
  • the trauma was caused by a parent or carer
  • the person experienced the trauma for a long time without a means to escape
  • the person’s boundaries were continually violated
  • there is still contact with the person responsible for the trauma

As it may take years for the symptoms of complex PTSD to be recognized, a child’s development, including their behavior and self-confidence, can be altered as they get older. The symptoms may not materialize until a person is going through adolescence and starting to separate and move into adulthood.Adults with complex PTSD may lose their trust in people and feel separated from others, or develop people pleasing syndrome, constantly sacrificing their needs to others and seeking external validation and approval.

Complex PTSD is a very difficult condition to understand as there may not have been a direct event or experience which you can pinpoint or visual, where the unconscious mind would usually flashback to like Normal PTSD.Your unconscious mind flashbacks or regresses just to the emotion, causing instability and disorientation.

The emotions of anxiety or fear probably developed through porous boundaries where you could not escape under the constant threat of punishment or abandonment. You may experience have days were they feel anxious, sad or depressed without any logical reason or triggering event to have those feelings.

The symptoms of complex PTSD may be as follows:

  • Feelings of shame or guilt – a deep sense of being flawed or not good enough
  • Difficulty controlling your emotions- instability of mood
  • Periods of losing attention and concentration –known as dissociation
  • Physical symptoms – such as headaches, dizziness, chest pains and stomach aches you may feel exhausted, tired and unable to focus/sleep due to the emotional irregularity.
  • Cutting yourself off from friends and family- withdrawing into isolation for safety, as you cannot be hurt or experience rejection on your own.
  • Relationship difficulties – interpersonal problems created by feelings of envy, jealousy or rage towards a partner.
  • Destructive or risky behavior – such as promiscuous sex, alcohol and drug use or gambling, workaholic or frivolous shopping bouts.
  • Severe cases can lead to suicidal thoughts or suicide itself

Treating complex PTSD

One of the key symptoms of complex PTSD is losing trust in people. If possible, people with complex PTSD are recommended to slowly start doing regular activities and create a new routine such as:

  • finding friends
  • getting a job
  • regular exercise
  • taking on hobbies

It’s important to try and develop some feelings of trust. It may take some time, but a trusting relationship with a life coach will help treat complex PTSD. Treatment from a Life coach may be given in three stages.

  1. Stabilisation

By speaking to a Life Coach you can learn how to control feelings of distrust and lose the feeling of being ‘disconnected’ from friends and family. You can develop a greater awareness and understanding of your feelings, leading to less anxiety and a space to develop healthier techniques to cope when feeling uncertain.

  • Certain techniques, known as ‘grounding’ techniques, may be able to help you separate an abusive or traumatic past from the present. The aim is to make the past seem less frightening and reduce the number of flashbacks you experience.

2.Trauma-focused life coaching including:

  • The use of psychotherapy incorporating Transactional Analysis to take a deeper look at your childhood experiences and beliefs developed from them.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Spiritual Guidance expanding your awareness of your true self and essence, as a new source to help create a deeper sense of knowing and security

These treatments may help you to control any distressing thoughts within an ethical and caring environment with the awareness to not induce more stress and anxiety.


The final stage is to begin to use these skills and techniques to develop better relationships with other people. To have formed a deeper understanding or your goals and needs, with healthy boundaries working effectively to create greater self-esteem and well-being.