Trigger Warning:

 Warning: the content in this blog may bring up emotions or feelings that can be difficult to handle on your own. Please proceed, or do not, with this in mind.

This blog series will be addressing issues related to mental health. Please be conscious of your own self-care while reading and after reading this blog series. If you are suffering from a mental health crisis, such as feelings of hopelessness or lack of pleasure in life, seek the advice of a mental health professional or call the crisis hotline  

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“Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea. While these feelings are normal, some people have difficulty moving on with their lives. Psychologists can help these individuals find constructive ways of managing their emotions.” from the APA website

American Psychological Association

Over the next several weeks I’m going to dive deep into a topic near and dear to me, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or CPTSD. Most are more familiar with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and while the diagnostic criteria for CPTSD is not yet defined by the American Psychological Association (APA), CPTSD was formally introduced by the World Health Organization (WHO) in its 11th edition of the International Classification of Disease (ICD-11) in 2018 (Hyland et al, 2021). The WHO describes CPTSD as having all the core symptoms of PTSD with an addition of difficulties with affect regulation, self concept, and interpersonal relationships (Hyland et al, 2021). 

Your friendly neighborhood psychologist could explain in great detail what all of that means, and let me be clear, I am NOT a psychologist. I do live with CPTSD and it is my hope, sharing my experiences and struggles will help others who might relate as well in their own journey’s back to themselves. I am also a registered aromatherapist and an integrative health student. Integrative health modalities, such as aromatherapy, physical therapy, and talk therapy, offer those who struggle with mental health an array of possibilities for individualized actionable support.

Core symptoms of PTSD- abbreviated from the American Psychological Association’s website

  • Intrusive or recurrent memories of the trauma 
  • Avoidance of Trauma reminders
  • Feeling sad, angry, or numb
  • Feeling on “edge” or other changes in reactivity or arousal

It can be difficult to move on and overcome after a lived experience of trauma. It is even more difficult when our bodies and minds develop pathways resulting in the trauma being just one triggered moment away from reliving the full experience of it time and time again. Certain populations are recognized as vulnerable to experiencing multiple traumas thereby making them vulnerable to the development of a variation of PTSD known as Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD). There are also many who are currently under-recognized and often unsupported,  leading to cyclical behaviors having detrimental results on their daily lives. Recognizing CPTSD is the first step toward healing and the development and integration of healthy lifestyle behaviors is how you get through your struggles and get back to YOU! 

Join me next week as I dive a bit deeper into defining CPTSD and my own journey back. 

Enjoy listening? Check out the Something I Can Do podcast here

APA (2021). American Psychological Association. Retrieved from

Hyland, P., Karatzias, T., Shevlin, M., McElroy, E., Ben-Ezra, M., Cloitre, M., & Brewin, C.
(2021). Does Requiring Trauma Exposure Affect Rates of ICD-11 PTSD and Complex 
PTSD? Implications for DSM–5. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and 
Policy, 13(2), 133-141.

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