Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (cPTSD)- Impact of Childhood Trauma | Assessment and Management Principles

Posted on:April 8, 2021
Last Updated: November 3, 2023
Time to read: 12–15 minutes

Acts of commission and omission towards a child are a considerable social and public health problem with a prevalence of approximately 20%. [Van Horne et al. 2018]

The incidence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is higher in females [Moore et al. 2015] and refugee or ethnic minority subgroups. [Kirmayer et al. 2007]

A systematic review of Australian research estimates prevalence rates of childhood sexual abuse are approximately 8.6%, physical abuse 8.9%, emotional abuse 8.7% and childhood neglect 2.4%. [Su and Stone 2020]

Beyond the acute medical consequences such as traumatic brain injury, ACEs can result in the long-term development of risky behaviours, chronic diseases, and poor life potential. [Su and Stone 2020]

  • Behavioural issues – Risky health behaviours, high-risk sexual behaviour, and substance abuse
  • Academic problems – Conduct disorder, childhood aggression, delinquency, and youth violence
  • Chronic diseases – Anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and metabolic diseases

Adult patients with a history of trauma have clinically complex presentations. This has resulted in the recent development of a new diagnostic category in the International Classification of Diseases, 11th revision. [Karatzias et al. 2017]

It is called complex post-traumatic stress disorder (cPTSD) and was endorsed by the WHO in May 2019 and is planned to come into effect in January 2022.