Complex PTSD vs BPD

Jul 10, 2023

Overlapping symptoms of two mental health disorders can make it difficult to differentiate between the two on your own. To the untrained eye, Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) might look similar as they share some risk factors and symptoms. In this blog post, we’ll show why it’s important to have a comprehensive assessment by trained mental health professionals to determine if one of these disorders is affecting you or if there’s a presence of both.

Complex PTSD vs. BPD: Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is specifically linked to repeated or prolonged exposure to traumatic events, particularly those involving interpersonal trauma such as childhood abuse, domestic violence, or long-term captivity. It is primarily a response to chronic trauma and the resulting disruption in one’s sense of self and interpersonal relationships. Unlike C-PTSD, the exact causes of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are not as clear. They may stem from genetic and environmental factors as well as traumatic experiences. C-PTSD symptoms tend to be more trauma-specific, while BPD symptoms tend to affect a person’s overall functioning in all areas of life. If you know someone with C-PTSD or BPD, help to begin healing is available in the Dallas area at Origins Recovery & Counseling.

What Is C-PTSD?

C-PTSD is frequently the result of prolonged and repeated exposure to traumatic experiences, particularly in interpersonal relationships, such as chronic childhood abuse, domestic violence, or prolonged captivity. C-PTSD diagnosis criteria contain all PTSD criteria as well as the following: emotional dysregulation that’s characterized by difficulties managing or regulating emotions, powerful and unstable emotions, emotional outbursts, and emotional numbness or emptiness; disturbances in self-identity with a distorted self-image, feelings of shame or guilt, a persistent sense of worthlessness, and trouble developing a cohesive sense of self; relationship issues can stem from a difficulty creating and maintaining healthy relationships, including issues with trust, intimacy, and keeping boundaries; and hopelessness due to people suffering from C-PTSD experiencing a loss of meaning, existential problems, and a sense of pessimism.

How Does BPD Differ from C-PTSD?

Let’s look at Complex PTSD vs. BPD. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) share some overlapping symptoms and can coexist in some people. BPD is a personality disorder identified by persistent patterns of instability in relationships with others, self-image, and emotions. Specific criteria for diagnosing BPD are outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), with symptoms that include fear of abandonment, unstable sense of self, impulsive behaviors, intense and unstable relationships, chronic feelings of emptiness, recurrent self-harm or suicidal behavior, and emotional instability. BPD can be recognized by a wide spectrum of symptoms that manifest in multiple life domains, such as relationships, self-identity, emotions, and actions. It has an impact on an individual’s overall functioning and can result in considerable impairment in a variety of aspects of life.

How Is C-PTSD Treated?

C-PTSD treatment frequently consists of a combination of therapy treatments addressing the condition’s many symptoms and problems. Common C-PTSD treatment strategies include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and others. CBT helps people process traumatic situations, challenge inaccurate ideas, and establish appropriate coping strategies. Individuals suffering from C-PTSD with emotional dysregulation and self-destructive behaviors may benefit from DBT since therapy focuses on improving emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal efficacy skills. EMDR can also be used to treat C-PTSD by processing traumatic memories and associated beliefs. Bilateral stimulation is used to help in the reprocessing of traumatic situations and to promote healing.

Medication to treat specific C-PTSD symptoms such as melancholy, anxiety, or sleep issues is another technique for treating C-PTSD. Antidepressants, anxiety medications, and mood stabilizers could be prescribed. Self-care practices such as stress reduction, good living habits, and relaxation exercises can also help treat C-PTSD symptoms and general wellness. Group therapy, support groups, and peer support programs can provide the following:

  • Encouragement.
  • A feeling of community.
  • An opportunity to exchange experiences with others who have faced similar challenges.

For example, yoga, mindfulness, and creative arts therapy can help regulate symptoms and promote wellness.

How is BPD Treated?

BPD is often treated with a mix of psychotherapy, medication management (if necessary), and assistance from a multidisciplinary team of mental health experts. The basic aims of BPD therapy are to alleviate symptom intensity, increase coping abilities, strengthen interpersonal connections, and promote overall well-being. Common evidence-based BPD treatment approaches include Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), the most frequently used and researched treatment for bipolar disorder. It aims to improve emotional control, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness. Individuals with BPD can benefit from skill training programs that focus on emotion control, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness in addition to treatment. These programs provide practical solutions for symptom management and everyday functioning. In addition, participating in BPD-specific support groups can provide validation, understanding, and chances to share experiences and coping skills.

Where Can I Find Help for C-PTSD and BPD?

Now that you have a sense of Complex PTSD vs. BPD let’s look at the kind of treatment available for both. If you or someone you know has C-PTSD or BPD, getting treatment from a trauma-focused mental health expert or one experienced in treating personality disorders is essential.

For men and women in the Dallas area, Origins Recovery & Counseling is a resource for mental health needs associated with these diagnoses. In addition, people struggling with substance use issues stemming from unmet mental health needs can find treatment resources to address alcohol or drug problems simultaneously. A thorough and integrated therapy strategy is usually required when treating patients with both C-PTSD and BPD. Trauma-focused therapies, such as trauma-focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), as well as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) or other treatments primarily targeted for BPD symptoms, may be utilized to manage C-PTSD symptoms. Getting the essential support to manage symptoms and learn how to make healthier choices can create a sustainable path to wellness for you or someone you know.

Origins Recovery & Counseling is a program in Dallas, Texas, made available by a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We provide a comprehensive diagnostic assessment and evaluation, as well as renowned clinical care for addiction. We have the compassion and professional expertise needed to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 866-671-4124.

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