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Complex PTSD vs. Bipolar Disorder

Complex PTSD vs. Bipolar Disorder

Mental health issues can come in all forms, but it’s important to know how to differentiate them because they can require different treatments. Two similar mental health disorders are complex post traumatic stress disorder, or C-PTSD, and bipolar disorder. Often, complex PTSD can be misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder because the patient isn’t sure of what symptoms they’re actually experiencing that are related to their mental health issue, and therefore don’t receive the proper treatment to mitigate their symptoms. 

Moreover, unchecked PTSD can sometimes lead to the development of other mental health issues, including bipolar disorder. Becoming aware of what they are and what the symptoms are can help protect yourself and loved ones so you know if you’re experiencing it and can, therefore, get the help you need to get your life back on track. 

What is complex PTSD?

C-PTSD is closely related to PTSD and is becoming more widely acknowledged and recognized over the last few years. PTSD is caused by a single traumatic event, where C-PTSD is caused by repeated trauma lasting over a time span of months or years. 

Complex-PTSD Symptoms

The symptoms of complex PTSD are similar to PTSD but there are a few more symptoms that people can experience because of the nature of the development of the disorder. The symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Reliving the traumatic experience in the form of nightmares or flashbacks.
  • Avoiding certain people, places, or situations that remind you of the traumatic event.
  • Experiencing changes in feelings towards others, including not being able to trust anyone.
  • Changes in feelings towards yourself such as having negative intrusive thoughts and a lowered self-worth.
  • Suffering from Hyperarousal which can include being constantly on high alert. It also can result in you being unable to sleep and being easily startled.
  • Physical symptoms with no medical cause that are triggered by memories of the traumatic event, such as feeling nauseous or dizzy

The symptoms of C-PTSD can include all of the above symptoms, as well as:

  • A lack of emotional control and experiencing explosive anger or continued sadness.
  • Feelings of dissociation and feeling detached from your emotions or body.
  • A negative self-perception and feelings of extreme guilt or shame.
  • Having trouble with relationships, avoiding them completely, or entering relationships with people who abuse them because it’s familiar.
  • Having a distorted perception of your abuser, including the preoccupation of revenge or giving them total power over you and your life.
  • Losing faith in long-held beliefs.

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that involves extreme changes in mood, including outbursts of anger and episodes of depression. Bipolar disorder is a common brain disorder that usually starts showing symptoms around people who are 25 years old. Some people who are bipolar may experience manic episodes that last days or weeks, while others may only experience mood swing episodes a few times a year, or even less than that. 

What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?

There are three kinds of symptoms people can experience with bipolar: depression, mania, and hypomania:

  • Mania experiences may cause an emotional high, including excitement, impulsive behavior, euphoria, and having a lot of energy. 
  • Hypomania is similar, but not as severe as mania, and may still experience notable changes in mood.
  • Depressive experiences can include a deep sadness, hopelessness, lack of interest in hobbies or activities, loss of energy, too little or too much sleep, and suicidal thoughts.

Men and women tend to have varying symptoms of bipolar disorder, making it harder to diagnose. Women may have milder manic episodes, more depressive episodes than manic episodes, and can experience more or more episodes in a year. They are also often diagnosed later in life and experience other issues at the same time, like migraines, anxiety, or obesity. Men tend to experience more severe manic episodes and act out during their manic episodes. They are also diagnosed earlier in life and can have substance abuse issues as well. 

Complex PTSD Treatment

The stellate ganglion block (SGB) is an injection treatment that is effective in reducing or eliminating the debilitating symptoms of PTSD, including anxiety, nightmares, and flashbacks. Although the SGB injection cannot treat bipolar disorder, it has been found to be an effective complex PTSD treatment. 

This PTSD injection treatment is a mixture of local anesthetics that is injected near the stellate ganglion, which is involved in control over the sympathetic nervous system. The results of the SGB injection to treat PTSD have been seen to last anywhere between 6 months to over 10 years. 

If you’ve been suffering from C-PTSD, the SGB injection for PTSD may be the solution you’ve been looking for to help you move on. Call us today to speak with an SGB doctor who can help you determine whether the SGB injection is a good fit for your specific condition.

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