The Definitions of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
To better understand the connection that childhood trauma can have to both PTSD and CPTSD, it is important we examine their definitions.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a traumatic (fear-filled) event that is either experienced or witnessed. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety.
Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (also known as complex trauma disorder) is a mental health disorder that develops in response to prolonged, repeated interpersonal trauma in which the child feels they have little or no chance of escape.
Put side by side it is easy to see the differences between the two diagnoses. However, people can have co-occurring experiences where they suffer the effects of both diagnoses at once with overlapping symptoms.