PTSD and Complex Trauma

PTSD and Complex Trauma

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often associated with people in the military, but it can affect anyone at any age after a frightening event. At Dr. Burwell Speaks, LLC, Crystal Burwell, PhD, LPC, CPCS, BC-TMH, provides compassionate psychotherapy that helps you overcome the trauma and intense symptoms caused by PTSD. The team works closely with the LGBTQ community, which experiences more trauma than the general population and has a dramatically higher risk of developing PTSD. Don't wait to seek the support you need. Call the office in Atlanta, Georgia, or book an in-person or telehealth appointment online today.

PTSD and Complex Trauma Q & A

What is PTSD?

PTSD is a mental health disorder that develops when you experience or witness an event that threatens or causes harm. Traumatic events that frequently lead to PTSD include:

  • Military duty
  • Automobile accident
  • Physical or sexual assault
  • Emotional or physical abuse
  • Neglect during childhood
  • Airplane or train accident
  • Earthquakes, floods, or tornadoes
  • Gun violence
  • Robberies
  • Fires

You may have complex trauma (complex PTSD) if you experienced a series of traumatic events. For example, children may be subjected to ongoing abuse for years, or adults may have multiple military deployments to dangerous locations.

Complex trauma causes PTSD symptoms and also has a significant impact on your self-image, self-esteem, sense of safety, and ability to trust people. When it occurs in childhood, complex trauma impacts a child's overall development.

What symptoms occur due to PTSD?

PTSD causes anxiety and fear, along with many other possible symptoms, such as re-experiencing the event and having uncontrollable memories about the trauma.

People with PTSD may:

  • Have nightmares
  • Experience flashbacks
  • Feel angry and irritable
  • Develop insomnia
  • Become depressed
  • Feel responsible for the trauma
  • Feel guilt or shame
  • Become isolated from family and friends
  • Have difficulty concentrating
  • Avoid people and places that remind you of the trauma


After a trauma, your brain doesn't relax. Instead, it stays in a state of high alert, waiting for the next trauma.

Why do PTSD symptoms suddenly flare up?

During a traumatic event, your brain records all of the details, such as the sights, smells, sounds, and your feelings. These details stay in your subconscious most of the time, so you're not aware of them.

When you encounter one of those details in your current life, it triggers a surge of memories associated with your trauma. This causes intense emotions and anxiety that often compel a response. For example, you may get angry or do something that's not appropriate for the current situation.

How is PTSD treated?

Psychotherapy remains the primary treatment for PTSD. You may need medication for specific symptoms like anger and sadness, but there aren't any medications that directly target PTSD.

Your therapist specializes in several types of therapy that help people with PTSD, including cognitive behavioral therapy, trauma-informed therapy, and energy-based techniques.

Each person's psychotherapy is customized to address their personal experiences and challenges. With exceptional sensitivity to the LGBTQ community, your therapist helps you heal by weaving issues you encounter due to gender identity into your PTSD treatment.

During therapy, you may learn to recognize PTSD triggers, reduce anxiety by confronting your fears, or learn ways to rebuild areas of your life affected by PTSD.

You can regain your authentic voice and move beyond the trauma with help from Dr. Burwell Speaks, LLC. To schedule an appointment, call or book online today.