Does anyone else have PTSD from different traumatic experiences?

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Policy Enforcement
It’s all very confusing and frustrating. We're here to help. Like I said, not trying to invalidate or be snippy. It’s just that when people (not necessarily you) flippantly say they have PTSD over things that are not even close to Crit A when most of us have experienced some form of sexual abuse, torture, etc. it gets a little extra difficult and I know I for one can get defensive.


Hey @WhiskeyTango - welcome.

I really appreciate your saying this:
Please understand I don't mean to say this to minimize others that have experienced other types of trauma that led to ptsd. I'm just trying to understand how to deal with it. The " don't be a weakling and keep moving" mantra is not cutting it. If people have better suggestions, I'd love to hear it. If I was erroneously diagnosed, I need to know that as well.
It's possible you were given the wrong diagnosis. None of us are doctors, just people who (to greater or lesser extent) live and breathe PTSD facts and fictions and experiences.

And I'm really sorry to hear what your life experiences have been. That's a lot of tough stuff.

The good news is - I think, given everything you've said, you could probably get a lot of relief from engaging with one of the evidence-based PTSD therapies, whether or not you clinically have PTSD. A central element in any trauma therapy is a thing called 'trauma processing'. Trauma processing can be accomplished via a number of different methods. There's a relatively simple goal - a thing called memory re-consolidation.

Here's what happens (this is one way to describe it): The brain has failed to incorporate the traumatic event into the memory - and so, it's 'stuck' in the present, instead of becoming part of the (way we conceptualize the) past. At the core of the stuck memory - the trauma event - there was, and is, a hyper-intense level of fear. This is the "stressor" part. The brain doesn't work as it's meant to when it gets stuck like this, and it's dysfunction leads to more dysfunctions - physical, behavioral, mental.

What happens when someone experiences something really really bad that might not technically meet PTSD criteria? Probably something quite similar. We're still dealing with an event or events, we're still dealing with the brain keeping it highlighted, and the accompanying neuro-chemical problems. Trauma processing will still work, and probably could be described as simply being a little easier to progress through. By a little easier, I don't mean a walk in the park - I mean, doesn't need to stop altogether for large chunks of time due to the emotional flooding that can be triggered by confronting the stuck stuff.

PTSD happens in the brain and then affects the rest of the system - that much we know. But, like all mental illnesses, there's a great deal that is not fully understood. All we can go off of is where we're at right now: current state of the research, the current diagnostic criteria, etc. If you spend a lot of time with the science on it, it gets easier to see where the solid blocks of knowledge are, and where the holes are.

One thing that people often aren't aware of: out of all the individuals who experience a qualifying trauma, less than a quarter of them will go on to develop PTSD. That doesn't mean that nothing happens to them. It doesn't mean they don't develop mental health problems that are serious and need treatment. It just means that less than a quarter will end up with the particular set of symptoms that make up this one (multi-faceted) disorder.

There are other diagnoses in the Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorders category of the DSM 5/ICD 10. And, because this is far from an exact science: when there are a bunch of symptoms that don't quite conform or fit together into an existing diagnosis - well, there's a diagnosis for that un-named-as-yet condition as well. It'll be something-something-Not-Otherwise-Specified.

A diagnosis is partly a signpost pointing towards specific treatments, and half a way of codifying the condition so all the paperwork can be standardized, which helps everyone from statisticians to insurance adjusters. The paperwork part doesn't always help the patient - so sometimes, a person will be given a diagnosis that they may not completely qualify for, simply so that there can be a treatment plan. This is very common in the US, it's a way of working around restrictions put into place by insurance companies.

So: my advice would be, do trauma therapy. It will probably help you a great deal. I think one of the more concrete protocol-driven evidence-based modalities would best serve you.

Ultimately, the goal is to get better. That's all any of us are after. You and your therapist may discover other things along the way that seem to encapsulate your particular symptom set better than PTSD does. Stay open to that.

One thing I'd suggest staying away from - don't let therapy just become going in circles talking about feelings. It's easy to end up farting around in therapy, talking about life, the trauma, family of origin issues... but never doing anything concrete to reconsolidate the memory, shift the thinking, re-build the brain. You sound like a 'get down to it' sort of person, and if your current therapist doesn't have enough of the right kind of training to take you through a process of reconsolidating those memories - you may want to find a different one.

As we say on this site - take what's useful, leave the rest.


Yes I have ptsd from multiple traumas. Childhood trauma from a aggressive abusive parent and two adult gang attacks that nearly killed me. One was a racial attack the other random and anonymous. It fuc*ed my head up badly. But I survived.


I suppose you can say I have multiple traumas. They all smoosh into one in my brain. But the span was 6 yrs old to 19 yrs old and there was trauma daily that varied greatly. So, yeah, you can say that's multiple. It wasn't just one trauma event. It was thousands. Possibly more. So, yep, I say I fit that multipe trauma catigory.


I usually have two lines that encapsulate my trauma and I have used them with friends/family who know I have PTSD.

One line is that I have been raped, choked, beaten several times before the age of 11.

The other line is that I grew up in a dysfunctional family and had bad luck. One is obviously more dramatic than the other.
After reading people's stories here, I certainly have not had it as bad, though playing trauma poker seems ridiculous.
People here are so full of courage and insight, that is what I like about this forum. It really underscores what it means to be human.

I find it interesting that you wrote this:
but the emotional abuse was what shaped me into the joke-of-a-woman I am today.

I can relate, that the emotional/psychological abuse is extra corrosive for me, though I often invalidate it. I grew up with a narcissistic mother and sociapath step father. He would threaten my life on the daily and choked me a few times. But it was those threats that really f*cked me up.

It was the verbal insults and mind games that eroded my identity, so I do a lot of identity work in therapy. My T says that a loss of identity and low self esteem can really fuel anxiety.
Btw you are not a joke of a woman, you are a survivor.
yes, and a suspect many if not most on the forum have. For me it was CSA at age 5, 16 months of what meets the international definition of torture, all 3 forms of abuse and 4 rapes age 19-20, and gang rape at age 21. And of course life itself can be sort of traumatic.


I was raised by a narcissist who was emotionally and verbally abusive and made sure my siblings and I were competing against each other rather than allies. My father also unexpectedly died in a manner that met criterion A in the DSM IV TR but doesn't meet criterion A in the DSM V. I believe that attachment-based and developmental trauma is a bit more likely to cause complex PTSD.

More recently, my husband drove my car into someone's house the same week he got laid off. I had reexperiencing, intrusion and arousal symptoms for several months and refused to let him drive my car for a very long time.


open eyes

Hi all, I'm 21 and was diagnosed with PTSD for childhood trauma and sexual assault. The trauma brought along other diagnoses like Anorexia, Anxiety, Depression, OCD, Agoraphobia and Panic disorder.
I was abused by one of my parents physically and emotionally up until the age of 19. The physical abuse happened daily mostly from the ages 5 to 17, I ended up going to A&E many times, but the emotional abuse was what shaped me into the joke-of-a-woman I am today. I self harmed since the age of 8 in its many forms, I was suicidal for a period of time and suffer with horrible self esteem issues.
I was also diagnosed with PTSD a few months ago after being sexually groomed and raped by a 51 year old coworker at my first office job at 20. The PTSD for the sexual assault debilitated me for a long time after everything around me became triggering to my PTSD.
I am actively working on both traumas through CBT (the childhood trauma more than the trauma from sexual assault because it's far easier for me), but I'm interested to spark a dialogue to discover whether there is anyone else who suffers from PTSD from different traumas and whether there's a correct term for it! :))
Hey :) I'm also a 21 y/o with multiple traumas. I've endured several sexual assaults at various ages, had a guy I was dating threaten me with a knife, and lost my high school boyfriend to suicide which was a very traumatic loss. I am so sorry that you're also experiencing complex PTSD. I hope the responses to this thread help you feel less alone.


It has to be violent or accidental under the new criteria. Formerly, any sudden/unexpected death could qualify as criterion A.

Thank you for your reply. Has this actually been confirmed by your T that it doesn't qualify anymore? Because...I think (obviously I'm not a professional, so really these are just my thoughts) things like heart attack etc. would qualify as "accidental"?

Because, otherwise...what constitutes "accidental"? Just actual, literal, accidents? Car, plane, work etc. ? Seems very very limiting. I'm not a native speaker but to me "accidental" implies "unexpected".

@joeylittle @Friday @Justmehere Any insight would be highly appreciated :)

@HealingMama Either way, I'm sorry this has happened to you because regardless of whether or not the event still qualifies under Criterion A, I'm more than certain it was very traumatic.
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