12 Life-Impacting Symptoms Complex PTSD Survivors May Endure


Complex trauma is a relatively new field of psychology. Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) results from enduring complex trauma.

This type of trauma is ongoing or repeated interpersonal trauma, where the victim is traumatized in captivity, and where there is no perceived way to escape. Ongoing child abuse is captivity abuse because the child cannot escape. Domestic violence is another example. Forced prostitution/sex trafficking is another.

Complex PTSD is a disorder which is different to post-traumatic stress disorder. Many of the issues and symptoms endured by complex trauma survivors are outside of the list of symptoms within the (uncomplicated) PTSD diagnostic criterion. Complex PTSD does acknowledge and validate these added symptoms.

The impact of complex trauma is very different to a one time or short-lived trauma. The effect of repeated/ongoing trauma – caused by people – changes the brain, and also changes the survivor at a core level. It changes the way survivors view the world, other people and themselves in profound ways.

The following are some of the symptoms and impact most felt by complex trauma survivors.

1. Deep Fear Of Trust

People who endure ongoing abuse, particularly from significant people in their lives, develop an intense and understandable fear of trusting people. If the abuse was parents or caregivers, this intensifies. Ongoing trauma wires the brain for fear and distrust. It becomes the way the brain copes with any further potential abuse. Complex trauma survivors often find trusting people very difficult, and it takes little for any trust built to be destroyed. The brain senses issues and this overwhelms the already severely-traumatized brain. This fear of trust is extremely impactful on a survivor’s life. Trust can be learned with support and an understanding of trusting people slowly and carefully.

2. Terminal Aloneness

This is a phrase I used to describe to my counselor — the terribly painful aloneness I have always felt as a complex trauma survivor. Survivors often feel so little connection and trust with people, they remain in a terrible state of aloneness, even when surrounded by people. I described it once as having a glass wall between myself and other people. I can see them, but I cannot connect with them.

Another issue that increases this aloneness is feeling different to other people. Feeling damaged, broken and unable to be like other people can haunt a survivor, increasing the loneliness.

3. Emotion Regulation

Intense emotions are common with complex trauma survivors. It is understandable that ongoing abuse can cause many different and intense emotions. This is normal for complex trauma survivors.

Learning to manage and regulate emotions is vital in being able to manage all the other symptoms.

4. Emotional Flashbacks

Flashbacks are something all PTSD survivors can deal with, and there are three types:

Visual Flashbacks – where your mind is triggered and transported back to the trauma, and you feel as though you are reliving it.

Somatic Flashbacks – where the survivor feels sensations, pain and discomfort in areas of the body, affected by the trauma. This pain/sensations cannot be explained by any other health issues, and are triggered by something that creates the body to “feel” the trauma again.

Emotional Flashbacks – the least known and understood, and yet the type complex trauma survivors can experience the most. These are where emotions from the past are triggered. Often the survivor does not understand these intense emotions are flashbacks, and it appears the survivor is being irrationally emotional. When I learned about emotional flashbacks, it was a huge lightbulb moment of finally understanding why I have intense emotions, when they do not reflect the issue occurring now, but are in fact emotions felt during the trauma, being triggered. But, there is no visual of the trauma – as with visual flashbacks. So, it takes a lot of work to start to understand when experiencing an emotional flashback.

 5. Hypervigilance About People

Most people with PTSD have hypervigilance, where the person scans the environment for potential risks and likes to have their back to the wall.
But complex trauma survivors often have a deep subconscious need to “work people out.” Since childhood, I have been aware of people’s non-verbal cues; their body language, their tone of voice, their facial expressions. I also subconsciously learn people’s habits and store away what they say. Then if anything occurs that contradicts any of this, it will immediately flag as something potentially dangerous.
This can be exhausting. And it can create a deep skillset of discernment about people. The aim of healing fear-based hyper-vigilance is turning it into non-fear-based discernment.

6. Loss Of Faith

Complex trauma survivors often endure a loss of faith. This can be about people, about the world being good, about religion, and a loss of faith about self.
Complex trauma survivors often view the world as dangerous and people as all potentially abusive, which is understandable when having endured ongoing severe abuse.

Many complex trauma survivors walk away from their religious beliefs. For example, to believe in a good and loving God who allows suffering and heinous abuse to occur can feel like the ultimate betrayal. This is something needing considerable compassion.

7. Profoundly Hurt Inner Child

Childhood complex trauma survivors, often have a very hurt inner child that continues on to affect the survivor in adulthood. When a child’s emotional needs are not met and a child is repeatedly hurt and abused, this deeply and profoundly affects the child’s development. A survivor will often continue on subconsciously wanting those unmet childhood needs in adulthood. Looking for safety, protection, being cherished and loved can often be normal unmet needs in childhood, and the survivor searches for these in other adults. This can be where survivors search for mother and father figures. Transference issues in counseling can occur and this is normal for childhood abuse survivors.

8. Helplessness and Toxic Shame

Due to enduring ongoing or repeated abuse, the survivor can develop a sense of hopelessness — that nothing will ever be OK. They can feel so profoundly damaged, they see no hope for anything to get better. When faced with long periods of abuse, it does feel like there is no hope of anything changing. And even when the abuse or trauma stops, the survivor can continue on having these deep core level beliefs of hopelessness. This is intensified by the terribly life-impacting symptoms of complex PTSD that keep the survivor stuck with the trauma, with little hope of this easing.

Toxic shame is a common issue survivors of complex trauma endure. Often the perpetrators of the abuse make the survivor feel they deserved it, or they were the reason for it. Often survivors are made to feel they don’t deserve to be treated any better.

Subconsciously looking for someone to rescue them is something many survivors understandably think about during the ongoing trauma and this can continue on after the trauma has ceased. The survivor can feel helpless and yearn for someone to come and rescue them from the pain they feel and want them to make their lives better. This sadly often leads to the survivor seeking out the wrong types of people and being re-traumatized repeatedly.

9. Repeated Search For A Rescuer

Subconsciously looking for someone to rescue them is something many survivors understandably think about during the ongoing trauma and this can continue on after the trauma has ceased. The survivor can feel helpless and yearn for someone to come and rescue them from the pain they feel and want them to make their lives better. This sadly often leads to the survivor seeking out the wrong types of people and being re-traumatized repeatedly.

10. Dissociation

When enduring ongoing abuse, the brain can utilize dissociation as a coping method. This can be from daydreaming to more life-impacting forms of dissociation such as dissociative identity disorder (DID). This is particularly experienced by child abuse survivors, who are emotionally unable to cope with trauma in the same way an adult can.

11. Persistent Sadness and Being Suicidal

Complex trauma survivors often experience ongoing states of sadness and severe depressionMood disorders are often co-morbid with complex PTSD.

Complex trauma survivors are high risk for suicidal thoughts, suicide ideation and being actively suicidal. Suicide ideation can become a way of coping, where the survivor feels like they have a way to end the severe pain if it becomes any worse. Often the deep emotional pain survivors feel, can feel unbearable. This is when survivors are at risk of developing suicidal thoughts.

12. Muscle Armoring

Many complex trauma survivors, who have experienced ongoing abuse, develop body hyper-vigilance. This is where the body is continually tensed, as though the body is “braced” for potential trauma. This leads to pain issues as the muscles are being overworked. Chronic pain and other issues related such as chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia can result. Massage, guided muscle relaxation and other ways to manage this can help.


Read more12 Life-Impacting Symptoms Complex PTSD Survivors May Endure

How to Solve the Biggest Problems With Memory Issues


Memory Issues At Home

This world can be tough to navigate for someone with memory issues. When friends and family don’t understand what’s going on, it can cause devistating relationship issues. ake the mistake of forgeting a child’s ballgame or recital? The child might get upset and think you didn’t care enough to go. The other parent may also get upset and think you’re being neglectful or selfish. When this happens, not only are you, the one with the condition, dealing with your own guilt over missing something important to your child, but now you’re having to deal with your family’s disappointment and accusations as well. Forget a birthday or anniversary? Forget something your spouse told you yesterday? If he or she reacts to this in anger and frustration, possibly making accusations, your self-esteem can plummet.

Memory Issues At Work

Work performance can suffer too when someone is experiencing memory issues. The person might make mistakes on the job which can lead to them getting fired. Though you are not required by law to disclose any diagnosis to your employer, some openness and honesty about your situation goes a long way. If your coworkers know what’s going on with you, they can might be willing to help pick up the slack. Your Human Resources department should also be made aware of any condition that may interfere with your performance at work. If they are aware that something is going on, it is possible you could be transferred to a position that is easier to handle, be given a lighter workload or have your hours reduced. Your job can work with you to an extent as long as they’re aware of what’s going on, although it’s not reasonable to expect them to always cover for you or excuse your mistakes. If you have an intermittent illness that affects your memory or performance, you can utilize FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) in some cases to take time off until your normal functioning returns. Plan ahead for if/when the time comes that you can no longer function at work and need to look into applying for disability.

Memory Problem With Doctors

Forgetting a doctor’s appointment can unfortunately get you written down as a “no show” and there may be a charge for not giving them 24 hours’ notice. You can reschedule, but it may be weeks before your next appointment rolls around. That’s a long time to wait when you’re having issues affecting your daily life that need to be seen to. Even worse with your much needed overpaid specialists – it can often be months before you can get in to see them. If you miss too many appointments, they can even “fire” you as a patient for noncompliance. They you may be labeled as noncompliant for other reasons as well, such as forgetting to take your medication as prescribed. Maybe you accidentally take it too often because you forgot you already took it earlier. Maybe you forget to take it at all because you can’t remember if you already did or not. Maybe you forget to refill your prescriptions on time so you’re not able to take them for a few days until you can get to the pharmacy. When you give vague answers to your medical providers, it raises a red flag in their mind that something is off. You could find yourself mistakenly labeled as noncompliant, attention-seeking, drug-seeking, etc. It is extremely important for you to be as open and honest with your doctor as you can about your memory issues. You want them on your side, not working against you because of a misinterpretation of your actions.  I personally reley on my pill cases to keep track of whether or not I have taken my medicines.

Support Groups

Find a support group! There are others out there who are going through the same thing as you, or something similar. It helps to talk to people who understand what you’re going through. You may not get validation and support from those closest to you, but you can get it from people in similar situations. They may also have some tips and tricks for you that helped them deal with their symptoms.



It can sometimes be a sign of something else going on with your body. Memory loss doesn’t usually happen on its own, especially in younger people. Elderly dementia happens, of course, but most of the time there’s something else going on, the memory issues simply a symptom of a larger problem. There are many mental health and physical health issues that can lead to brain fog, memory loss and decrease in cognitive function, either permanently or intermittently. Getting officially diagnosed and receiving proper treatment can greatly improve all symptoms of your illness, not just the memory issues. Unfortunately, many individuals go for years without a diagnosis, so be your own advocate and don’t give up on getting to the bottom of your health issues. Enlist someone you trust who can help you remember your appointments, write down your symptoms and go to appointments with you. Forgetting to tell the doctor some of your symptoms makes it that much harder for him or her to come to a proper diagnosis.

Be prepared at all times. Wear a medical alert bracelet or carry a card in your purse or wallet. Keep a list of all medications and be sure that list is current. If you have intermittent memory loss, or intermittent difficulty with speech, this should be written down and kept in a place that emergency personnel can easily find. If you’re unable to tell them what your allergies are, what medications you’re on or what your medical diagnosis is, there is a risk of emergency personnel giving you something harmful. Therefore, it is important for them to be able to look at your bracelet or a card in your wallet to get this information in case you’re unable to tell them. Keep your emergency contacts listed and up to date as well.

Plan for long-term care before you need it. Don’t leave that decision up to your loved ones to make. Too many people wait until it’s too late to make any plans. Choose a person you trust to make decisions for you and designate them your Power of Attorney for when the time comes that you need someone else to be your decision-maker. Tell them while you still are of sound mind what your wishes are so they can carry them out on your behalf. Your family may not want to talk about things like this, so you may have to be the one to bring it up. Their emotional burden will be eased if they have your help making plans while you still are able.

Updated Irksome Was The Prompt Given For Today By Word Press’s Editors

Irksome Avatar
Jeanette Hall’s Avatar
Her name is Ruth. She is a 30 year old professional woman suffering from several  chronic diseases. She is an extremely religious lady who likes to help other people.


Ruth Thinks You Need This:

Free information on building your own Tribe (audience).  Read the helpful information and try to give it to your audience!  Click on the link below to read the file!


Your Irksome Mentor

Is just trying to help you get your message across to your readers or Tribe as she calls them.  Focus your message on your personal audience’s needs!  DO NOT display your writings for your own personal vanity’s sake.

What message Are You Sending?

Is it something helpful for your readers or is it just a bunch of filler on your paper / screen to amuse yourself?  Try collating useful knowledge to share with others!  Helpful lists or charts in an info-graphic are generally well accepted forms of educating people.

Am sure you have personal favorite go – to web sites you use for you research.  Why not share that list with others? Some of the sites I use regularly include:

Might be the thing that gains you life long followers of your own!

Try Sharing Your Own Writing Story

What made you first pick up your pen / typewriter to write?  Did you get inspired by someone or live through a life altering event?  A divorce or fire can shake anyone’s out look on life!  Share it with your readers so they can get to know you as a fellow human being.

What inspires you to write?

What Inspires You Personally To Write?

New Option

Confirm Add

  • Scenery? - 0
  • Wheather Events? - 0
  • Love? - 0
  • Simple Bordom? - 0
  • New Adventures? - 0
  • Constant Creativity? - 0

To get included on my writing’s mailing list  fill out the form located below: 

Free Email Updates
Get the latest content first!
We respect your privacy.

Your information will not be sold. I PERSONALLY PROMISE!

In Summary

Try not to be irksome with your readers.  Give them what they want to read from you.  If they desire your story, share it with them.  In the case of a knowledge hungry audience, feed their minds on helpful enlightening facts that you have discovered!  Give them what they desire and your tribe will follow you to the ends of the Earth only if you lead them there!

Optin to Saint P. Blogging Newsletters

Sign up to receive FREE news letter!

Thank you for signing up!
%d bloggers like this: