Many people experience anxiety at some point in their lives. You feel anxiety when speaking in public, trying something new, or meeting someone special. Your palms get sweaty. Your heart races. You feel a ball in your stomach. Your chest feels tight.
Anxiety is good in some situations. It prepares us for flight-or-flight responses. It prompts us to take action or to plan out what is going to occur in a situation. Anxiety in mild forms can be a good thing. Our body is designed to be anxious in situations where we should take control and take action. Anxiety that pervades everything in our life, causes us to be sick, and keeps us awake at night is bad.
Anxiety can escalate to another level. When a person is exposed to traumatic or negative events where they feel little or no control in the outcome, the anxiety can turn into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you have enough recurring events in your life that are traumatic, you may even be diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD).
Complex PTSD is a disorder that often affects soldiers, battered women, and children who have been in abusive and domestic violence situations. It is used to diagnose people who have been exposed to long-term and repeated exposure to situations out of their control, whereas normal PTSD can occur in someone with exposure to one or two traumatic events. PTSD can happen when someone is raped or is the victim of other violent circumstances, like a shooting event. A person who dates or marries a psychopath or a narcissist can have complex PTSD. A child who is sexually abused repeatedly is also likely to have complex PTSD.