Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) are related but distinct. C-PTSD is considered to be an improved version of PTSD. C-PTSD, in turn, is related to Borderline Personality (BPD).
Current Personal Injury and C-PTSD
PTSD is usually caused by a single traumatic event (or series of traumatic events) that results in a real or imagined threat to one's life or integrity. Events that could cause PTSD include exposure to war, a terrorist attack, a physical or sexual assault, or even the threat of such attacks. C-PTSD is different in that it is usually caused by persistent trauma, which is often interpersonal. C-PTSD tends to be associated with continued trauma that occurs at an early age. Children who grow up in neglected or abusive environments may continue to develop C-PTSD (Giourou et al., 2018).
Linear personality and ongoing interpersonal trauma
Group personality is also associated with persistent interpersonal trauma during childhood. Researchers have linked exposure to chronic fear and anxiety as a child, as well as physical, sexual and / or emotional abuse as a child, to the development of BPD. Developing with a parent who has a serious mental health problem is also a risk factor for developing BPD.
BPD and C-PTSD share a relationship with childhood abuse, and up to 71% of people who experience BPD report serious childhood abuse.
BPD is a serious issue characterized by emotional, social, cognitive and behavioral concerns. The most notable features of BPD are difficulty managing emotions, impulsivity, identity problems and dysfunctional interpersonal relationships (Hecht, Cicchetti, Rogosch, & Crick, 2014).
Common features of C-PTSD and BPD
BPD and C-PTSD share a relationship with childhood abuse, and up to 71% of people who experience BPD report serious childhood abuse. BPD and C-PTSD also share symptoms. Overlapping symptoms are related to the areas of processing and regulating emotions, security in relationships and self-concept (Ford & Courtois, 2014).
Some common symptoms of BPD and C-PTSD include:
The difficulties of processing and regulating emotions
People with BPD and C-PTSD are known to have difficulty managing and regulating emotions. When faced with unpleasant emotions such as anger, fear or sadness, the person may find it difficult to control the intensity and duration of the emotion. It can be very difficult to "let things go" and return to a neutral or elevated mood as soon as they lose their balance.
People with BPD and C-PTSD often have relationship problems. Relationships can be unstable, unsafe, and often can be traumatic or stressful for one or both partners. We are beginning to learn how relationships work in childhood. If our childhood caregivers were neglected or abusive, we tend to transfer these learning perceptions of ourselves, such as "I am bad, useless or worthy of support," into our adult relationships, as well as relationship lessons, such as "They are unpredictable, unreliable and sometimes dangerous."
People with BPD can have a particularly difficult time trusting and relating to others. It is believed that because they may not have experienced empathy with their primary caregivers during childhood, they have developed limited abilities to see beyond their own emotional reactions and understand how others may feel.
Adults with C-PTSD may also have difficulty with empathy and relationships, although it depends on the nature of the trauma and whether they had access to at least one adult caregiver during their childhood. We are all unique and how we develop and respond to early trauma is variable and can depend on many different factors within the environment and the individual.
BPD and C-PTSD are also associated with impulsive behaviors and decoupling. People can behave in ways that are self-destructive and reckless. Unsafe sex, abuse of drugs and alcohol and failure to respect one's own safety can happen.
Splitting is particularly common in BPD and is known to occur in PTSD (Krause-Utz & Elzinga, 2018). The dimension can lead to a feeling of disconnection from oneself and the world. Especially in times when stress levels are high, separation can act as a defensive mechanism where the sufferer feels detached from himself and what is happening around him. In some cases, amnesia may occur, as well as a feeling of 'lost time'. Identity confusion can also occur and the person may feel as if they do not have a strong sense of self or that their identity appears to be shifting depending on the circumstances and the environment in which they are.
High levels of anxiety, sadness and shame
Group personality and C-PTSD are associated with high levels of general discomfort. Many feel isolated and empty, as a significant part of their symptoms can affect their relationships and relationships with others. They may have high levels of shame and sometimes feel that they have been permanently harmed. This can lead to a desire to withdraw from others, as relationships are often a source of anxiety, insecurity and / or conflict.
What if you have symptoms of both C-PTSD and BPD?
Complicated post-traumatic stress disorder and BPD require treatment and support. If you have symptoms of C-PTSD and BPD, it can help you get an accurate assessment and diagnosis first. It is important to understand that no one is permanently impaired and there are therapeutic approaches that have proven effective for both C-PTSD and BPD.
Treatment can help you develop strategies and techniques that allow you to better manage stress and manage difficult emotions. Ongoing support from a therapist who understands what you are experiencing and where your feelings and symptoms come from can be extremely helpful for your healing journey. Find a therapist near me.
If you are struggling, it is important to reach out and take advantage of the support and options available. With treatment, you can not only feel better but also avoid the negative effects of behavioral and emotional symptoms. Feeling better and coping with stress can improve other areas of your life, such as how you work in a professional and personal relationship.
- Ford, J.D. & Courtois, C.A. (2014, July 9). Complex PTSD, affects dysfunction and borderline personality disorder. Disorder in the normal personality and dysfunction of emotions, 1, 9. two: 10.1186 / 2051-6673-1-9
- Giourou, E., Skokou, M., Andrew, S.P., Alexopoulou, K., Gourzis, P., & Jelastopulu, E. (2018, March 22). Complicated Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: The Need to Establish a Separate Clinical Syndrome or to Reassess the Characteristics of Psychiatric Disorders After Interpersonal Trauma? World Journal of Psychiatry, 8(1), 12-19. doi: 10.5498 / wjp.v8.i1.12
- Hecht, K. F., Cicchetti, D., Rogosch, F. A., & Crick, N. R. (2014). Childhood borderline personality traits: The role of the subtype, developmental timing, and timing of childhood abuse. Development and Psychopathology, 26(3), 805-815. doi: 10.1017 / S0954579414000406
- Krause-Utz, A., & Elzinga, B. (2018). The current understanding of the neural mechanisms of dimension in personality disorder. Current Neuroscience Behavior Reports, 5(1), 113-123. doi: 10.1007 / s40473-018-0146-9
- Luyten, P., Campbell, C., & Fonagy, P. (2019, May 7). Borderline individual disorder, complex trauma and problems with self and identity: a socio-communicative approach. Personality Journal. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jopy.12483
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