PTSD vs CPTSD: Is Complex PTSD a Disability?

PTSD vs CPTSD: Is Complex PTSD a Disability?

Feb 9, 2024 | PTSD

Roughly 5% of the US population is believed to have PTSD at any given time. A small percentage of those who meet the requirements for PTSD also meet the requirements for CPTSD. CPTSD stands for Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

This raises the obvious question of what is CPTSD and is it given the same level of attention as PTSD? Is Complex PTSD a disability? We’ll answer some of those questions here. 

What is CPTSD

CPTSD is a more severe form of PTSD. Both stem from traumatic events that deeply impact our mental health. The difference is that CPTSD is usually the result of sustained or repeated trauma, such as abuse or bullying.

There is still much debate and controversy surrounding CPTSD, and the DSM, which is a textbook of mental disorders used by psychiatrists, doesn’t recognize it yet. 

Symptoms of CPTSD and PTSD

Some of the symptoms of CPTSD are similar to those of PTSD. These symptoms fall into three categories: Re-experiencing the trauma, high levels of anxiety, and avoidance of certain people, places, or activities.

Re-experiencing occurs when the person in question is exposed to something that reminds them of their trauma. These can take the form of flashbacks or nightmares, as well as a few other things.

The other classes of symptoms occur because the person is trying to prevent re-experiencing symptoms, whether they know it or not. The anxiety occurs because the body is constantly in fight-or-flight mode, ready for danger at a moment’s notice. Avoidance is a desire to prevent re-experiencing whenever possible.

CPTSD Symptoms

While CPTSD shares some symptoms with PTSD, it also has a few symptoms of its own. CPTSD often affects people’s self-esteem. Those suffering from CPTSD may also meet criteria for Depression.

Research by the Department of Veterans Affairs has shown that those with PTSD are up to five times more likely to develop depression. Those with Complex PTSD might have even higher odds.

Traumatic events can disrupt a person’s ability to control their emotions. This leads to outbursts which can damage relationships.

Clinical View of CPTSD

CPTSD presents a complicated clinical picture. The idea has only been around since the 1980s, and many still consider it as a type of PTSD rather than its own condition.

The good news is that PTSD can be considered a disability depending on which doctor you talk to. Treating PTSD is often covered by insurance. You might also qualify for disability payments.

Is Complex PTSD a Disability?

Is Complex PTSD a disability? The answer isn’t really yes or no. CPTSD can be classified as a disability in some cases. The big issue is that you need a diagnosis to qualify for disability under CPTSD.

Some doctors are reluctant to diagnose PTSD, and some don’t recognize CPTSD as a real condition. If you can get a diagnosis, it will help in many ways. For instance, if your CPTSD occurred while you were working as a civilian on a military base, you should be able to file a Defense Base Act claim.

If you need a good lawyer, we at Barnes Law Firm are here to help. We’ve been in business for over twenty years, so we know the Defense Base Act inside and out. You can learn more by contacting us.