Complex trauma is having several experiences of trauma over time, compounding suffering and repeatedly impacting the nervous system, which is then permanently affected.
I often say that complex trauma is like a sledgehammer repeatedly pounding away at the nervous system.
For those who endured abusive childhoods (developmental trauma), it is all too familiar: repeated emotional or physical abuse that can create a sense of life being merely about survival. This is because early childhood trauma permanently affects the brain (I wrote a blog reviewing exactly HOW here).
For these survivors (maybe you), your earliest memories are no doubt punctuated by crises, events that to an outsider might seem incredible in their tragedy – violence, neglect, conflict, struggle.
Yet, complex trauma is not only suffered by those who grew up in dysfunctional family systems.
It can also be the result of a combination of events that are completely unrelated.
I’ve had clients who tell me their stories with the dire summary, “Maybe I’ve just had terrible luck.”
Yes, complex trauma can seem like a case of repeated ‘bad luck’!
Complex trauma can result from car accidents, violent attacks, bullying, deaths, natural disaster, as well as chronic illness, especially illness with lots of medical intervention.
Unfortunately, this kind of ongoing trauma impacts the nervous system to such an extent that the body-brain can become locked into fight or flight, contributing to chronic symptoms like insomnia, panic attacks, anxiety, memory problems, digestive issues, low self-esteem, depression, and much more.
Chronic or Complex PTSD (CPTSD) is unresolved post traumatic stress that remains untreated over a period of time. It presents very much like complex trauma and responds to a similar treatment approach.
Making sense of trauma
If you’d like to learn more about the different types of trauma, including acute trauma, ptsd, complex trauma, developmental trauma, as well as new insights into symptoms like flashbacks and night terrors, as well as panic attacks, memory problems, etc. – and ALSO get my 6 Step Roadmap to healing holistically …. just grab my free guide, opt in below!
- 3 Common mistakes people make when embarking on a healing journey;
- 6 essential elements of an effective treatment plan;
- Appendix of common trauma symptoms, and what no one tells you about the reason behind common symptoms (from panic, to memory problems, from depression to insomnia);