Complex post-traumatic stress disorder

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD) is a severe mental disorder that emerges in response to traumatic life events. Complex PTSD is characterised by three core post-traumatic symptom clusters, along with chronic and pervasive disturbances in emotion regulation, identity, and relationships. Complex PTSD has been adopted as a new diagnosis in the ICD-11. Individuals with complex PTSD typically have sustained or multiple exposures to trauma, such as childhood abuse and domestic or community violence.


The disorder has a 1–8% population prevalence and up to 50% prevalence in mental health facilities. Progress in diagnostics, assessment, and differentiation from post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder is reported, along with assessment and treatment of children and adolescents. Studies recommend multicomponent therapies starting with a focus on safety, psychoeducation, and patient-provider collaboration, and treatment components that include self-regulatory strategies and trauma-focused interventions.

Prof Andreas Maercker, PhD ; Marylene Cloitre, PhD ; Rahel Bachem, PhD ; Yolanda R. Schlumpf, PhD ; Prof Brigitte Khoury, PhD ; Caitlin Hitchcock, PhD ; Prof Martin Bohus, MD | 2022
In: Lancet ; ISSN: 0140-6736 | 400 | 10345 | 60-72
Adolescents, Children, Complex PTSD, Diagnosis, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), PTSD (ICD-10), Treatment