PTSD  In DSM-5, (published in May, 2013)  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is classified as a trauma and stressor related disorder, which can be caused by a one-time trauma.  Examples of this would be  a car crash,  suffering or witnessing an crime, violence or war. Diagnostic criteria for PTSD include a history of exposure to a traumatic event that meets specific stipulations and symptoms from each of four symptom clusters: intrusion, avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity.(1)

                                               Symptoms or Expressions of PTSD

Panic attacks                                          Addictions (alcohol, drugs, sex)            Sleep disorders

Uncontrollable crying                            Overreaction to minor stress                  Nightmares

Uncontrollable rages                              State of fight or flight                              Terror       

Eating disorders                                      Shame, guilt and blame                         Somatic  pain              

Suicidal feelings                                      High risk behaviours                              Self-mutilation                                         

Extreme mood swings                            Sense of defilement or stigma

Complex PTSD

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is PTSD with added symptoms caused due to prolonged severe , ongoing trauma, or multiple types of trauma, either life threatening, or complex interpersonal  trauma in childhood, within a captivity or entrapped situation, where the child/adult doesn't perceive there to be a viable escape. (2)

          Complex PTSD Symptoms

Emotional Regulation.  Includes persistent sadness, suicidal thoughts, explosive anger, or inhibited anger.

Consciousness.  Includes forgetting traumatic events, reliving traumatic events, or having episodes in which one feels detached from one's mental processes or body (dissociation).

Self-Perception.   Includes helplessness,  shame, guilt, stigma, and a sense of being completely different from other human beings.

Distorted Perceptions of the Perpetrator.

Include attributing total power to the perpetrator, becoming preoccupied with the relationship to the perpetrator, or preoccupied with revenge.

Relations with Others.  Examples include isolation, distrust, or a repeated search for a rescuer.

One's System of Meanings.  Can include a loss of sustaining faith, or a sense of hopelessness and/or despair(3)

Physiological Effects

 The following graph details the physiological response to a perceived threat by external/internal stimuli. When there is repeated stimulation of the mechanism it creates a rut, groove or entrenched neuro pathway.  A child’s fear of the dark is quite common, fear of the unknown and unseen felt by everyone.  It is the parental response to that fear can; 


(A) minimize, shame(e.g. denial by adult logic/standards “There’s nothing to be afraid of”)   (B)to be supportive by altering dynamics (e.g., night light, hall light left on, staying until child falls asleep),

(C)or be a combination of both, creating a base of confusion/self- doubt /inconsistency. (e.g.  “I’ll leave the bathroom light on but, you really should get over it”, “You sure you need the light on?”, “ You don’t need it tonight”) 

What starts as an apprehension can be resolved as the child gains confidence and understanding of their surroundings.  What usually is a small stage of development can become a nightly fear trigger if dealt with inappropriately.  A child who perceives a fear/threat every night with a simple act of going to bed will develop a patterned fear response. 

                This is only an introduction to the physical fall out of PTSD and Complex PTSD.  

                                                                 For more information on;

                                                      Neurological impacts please click HERE

                                                      Dealing with your Inner Critic click HERE

                                                                Triggers please click HERE

                                                                   Flashbacks click HERE

PTSD Recovery click HERE