Biological correlates of complex posttraumatic stress disorder*state of research and future directions

Complex posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) presents with clinical features of full or partial PTSD (re-experiencing a traumatic event, avoiding reminders of the event, and a state of hyperarousal) together with symptoms from three additional clusters (problems in emotional regulation, negative self-concept, and problems in interpersonal relations). Complex PTSD is proposed as a new diagnostic entity in ICD-11 and typically occurs after prolonged and complex trauma. Here we shortly review current knowledge regarding the biological correlates of complex PTSD and compare it to the relevant findings in PTSD. Recent studies provide support to the validity of complex PTSD as a separate diagnostic entity; however, data regarding the biological basis of the disorder are still very limited at this time. Further studies focused on complex PTSD biological correlates and replication of the initial findings are needed, including neuroimaging, neurobiochemical, genetic, and epigenetic investigations. Identification of altered biological pathways in complex PTSD may be critical to further understand the pathophysiology and optimize treatment strategies.

Zoya Marinova, Andreas Maercker | 2015
In: European Journal of Psychotraumatology, ISSN 2000-8066 | 6