What is Complex PTSD?

Complex PTSD

People experience stress following many types of traumatic events. These may include war, disaster, terrorism, car accidents, and violence, such as sexual abuse.

The term Complex PTSD describes the symptoms of long-term trauma, persons who suffered prolonged, repeated trauma where the victim is held in a state of captivity, physically or emotionally, and not able to get away from the danger.


Symptoms may include any of the following:

  • Persistent sadness, suicidal thoughts, or anger.
  • Forgetting or reliving traumatic events, or feeling detached.
  • Feelings of helplessness, shame, guilt, and a sense of being different from others.
  • Distorted perceptions of the perpetrator as having total power, becoming preoccupied with the relationship to them, or preoccupied with revenge.
  • Isolation from, or distrust of others, or a repeated search for a rescuer.

Chronic trauma survivors may avoid thinking and talking about trauma-related topics because the feelings associated with the trauma are often overwhelming. They may use alcohol or other substances to prevent, and numb feelings and thoughts related to the trauma, or engage in self-mutilation. Survivors are sometimes unjustly blamed for the symptoms they experience because of victimization.

Treatment for Complex PTSD

Treatment often involves addressing interpersonal difficulties and the specific symptoms mentioned above and the restoration of power and control to the survivor. Building healing relationships which create safety, allow for remembering, and encourage reconnecting with life can be empowering for survivors.

Trauma-informed Yoga can be a powerful tool

Current research shows that the most effective treatment for PTSD and Complex Trauma integrates traditional therapy with body-mind approaches, because these methods extend treatment to include working with feelings and sensations seated within the body.

What is Trauma-Informed Yoga

Trauma-informed yoga is an empirically validated adjunct treatment designed specifically for complex PTSD, and is available at Life’s a Gift for both individuals or small group classes. Follow the links for more information, or contact us.


Trauma-informed Yoga – Life’s a Gift. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://lifesagift.me/trauma-informed-yoga/

PTSD: National Center for PTSD – http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/PTSD-overview/complex-ptsd.asp


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