PTSD and Complex Grief/Complicated Grief: The Two Main Disorders That Often Confuse Scam Survivors And That Affect Scam Victims (Not Including Anxiety Or Depression)
These two main disorders are PTSD and Complex Grief. Scam victims can easily develop one or the other. It is often the case that victims tend to gravitate towards the label PTSD because it is better known, but may not be the right term for what they are experiencing.
This is why it is so important to have a professional therapist to help make these diagnoses.
What are PTSD & Complex Grief?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Complex Grief are two distinct psychological conditions, each with its own set of characteristics, manifestations, and treatment approaches.
Complex Grief is also known as complicated grief, and may be more common in scam victims than PTSD – though both appear to be widespread.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, such as a war, a natural disaster, a car accident, or a violent crime.
Symptoms of PTSD can include:
- Intrusive thoughts: Recurring, unwanted thoughts or images of the traumatic event.
- Nightmares: Vivid dreams about the traumatic event.
- Flashbacks: Feeling like the traumatic event is happening again.
- Avoidance: Avoiding people, places, or activities that remind the person of the traumatic event.
- Negative thoughts and feelings: Feeling negative emotions such as fear, anger, guilt, or shame.
- Hyperarousal: Feeling constantly on edge and irritable.
PTSD can have a significant impact on a person’s life. It can make it difficult to work, study, and maintain relationships. It can also lead to problems with sleep, substance abuse, and depression.
Complex grief is a type of grief that is so severe and prolonged that it interferes with a person’s ability to function in their daily life. It can occur after the death of a loved one, but it can also be triggered by other losses, such as the loss of a job, a home, a pet, or in the case of romance scams.
Symptoms of complex grief can include:
- Intense longing and yearning for the deceased
- Difficulty accepting the reality of the loss
- Feelings of bitterness, anger, and resentment
- Guilt and shame
- Physical symptoms such as fatigue, pain, and difficulty sleeping
- Social isolation
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
Complex grief can have a significant impact on a person’s physical and mental health. It can also lead to problems with work, relationships, and social activities.
Breakdown of the Differences
Here’s a detailed breakdown of the differences between them and how they affect individuals:
Definitions and Main Causes:
- PTSD is a mental health condition triggered by exposure to a traumatic event. These events typically involve a real or perceived threat to one’s life or well-being, such as combat, natural disasters, accidents, or violence. PTSD can occur when the individual experiences or witnesses a traumatic event.
- Complex Grief, also known as Prolonged Grief Disorder or Complicated Grief, is a condition that arises from the loss of a loved one, such as a family member, friend, partner, or a romance scam. What sets it apart from regular grief is the persistence and intensity of the symptoms, lasting well beyond what is considered a normal mourning period.
- Manifestations and Identifiers:
- PTSD key identifiers of PTSD are often grouped into three categories: re-experiencing, arousal, and avoidance symptoms. PTSD can manifest in a variety of ways. Some people may experience all of the symptoms listed above, while others may only experience a few. The severity of symptoms can also vary from person to person. PTSD can be diagnosed by a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. The professional will ask the person about their symptoms and experiences. They will also do a physical exam to rule out any other medical conditions that could be causing the symptoms.
- Re-experiencing: Individuals may suffer from flashbacks, nightmares, or distressing memories of the traumatic event.
- Arousal: This category includes symptoms like irritability, difficulty sleeping, and heightened responses to threats or triggers.
- Avoidance: People with PTSD might avoid reminders of the trauma, including conversations, places, and activities.
- Complex Grief often involves more pervasive and longer-lasting symptoms than regular grief. Complex grief can manifest in a variety of ways. Some people may experience all of the symptoms listed above, while others may only experience a few. The severity of symptoms can also vary from person to person. Complex grief can be difficult to identify, especially in the early stages of grief. However, if a person is still experiencing intense grief and difficulty functioning in their daily life more than six months after a loss, it is important to seek professional help.
- Intense Longing: A persistent yearning for the deceased person.
- Preoccupation: Excessive thoughts or even intrusive images related to the loss.
- Avoidance: Avoiding reminders of the deceased or situations that bring about painful memories.
- Identity Disruption: A significant change in one’s sense of self and future outlook.
- Difficulty Moving On: Inability to find meaning or purpose after the loss.
- Onset and Duration:
- Symptoms of PTSD typically begin within three months of the traumatic event. If untreated, they can persist for years, with some individuals experiencing chronic PTSD.
- Complex Grief symptoms of Complex Grief may not appear until six months after the loss. The condition can extend beyond the typical mourning period, lasting for several years in some cases.
- Effective treatments for PTSD include:
- Therapies: PTSD can be treated with a variety of therapies, including:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT helps people to identify and change the negative thoughts and behaviors that are associated with their PTSD.
- Exposure therapy: Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing people to the things they fear in a safe and controlled environment. This helps people to learn to manage their anxiety and to cope with their trauma.
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR is a therapy that uses eye movements to help people to process their trauma.
- Medications: Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can help manage symptoms.
- Lifestyle Changes: Strategies such as exercise, healthy eating, and adequate sleep can contribute to overall well-being.
- Complex Grief can be treated with a variety of therapies, including:
- Grief therapy or counseling: Grief therapy helps people to process their grief and to learn to cope with their loss. Specialized grief counseling can assist individuals in processing and accepting their loss.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT helps people to identify and change the negative thoughts and behaviors that are associated with their grief.
- Cognitive Therapy: Similar to CBT, cognitive therapy aims to identify and change dysfunctional thought patterns related to the loss.
- Family therapy: Family therapy can be helpful for people who are grieving the loss of a loved one. It can help families to communicate and support each other during this difficult time.
- Support Groups: Participating in professionally facilitated support groups with others who have experienced similar losses can provide comfort and understanding.
- Medications: In some cases, antidepressants may be prescribed to help manage symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- With appropriate treatment, many individuals with PTSD can experience significant improvements in their symptoms and overall quality of life. However, some may continue to experience mild symptoms or relapses.
- Complex Grief can be more challenging to treat and may require longer-term therapy. While many people eventually adjust to their loss, some may continue to experience significant distress.
PTSD and Complex Grief are distinct psychological conditions, each with its own triggers, symptoms, and treatment approaches. Understanding the differences between them is crucial for accurately identifying and addressing the needs of individuals who may be struggling with these conditions. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms related to either PTSD or Complex Grief, seeking professional help is a vital step toward recovery and healing.
If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD or complex grief, it is important to seek professional help. With the right treatment, people can recover from these conditions and live full and productive lives.