Complex PTSD as an official diagnosis

Complex PTSD is planned to be included in the ICD-11 diagnostic manual produced by the World Health Organization, and planned for release in 2017. The ICD is an alternative diagnostic manual to the American DSM manual – but unlike the DSM it includes both physical and mental disorders, and will be available in multiple ‘official’ languages too.

The Complex PTSD description has recently been updated to include the causes of Complex PTSD, including child abuse.

Did you know... The World Health Organization now recognizes that child abuse, and prolonged domestic violence can cause Complex PTSD - which has a more pervasive effect on life, and more symptoms, than 'simple' PTSD. Source: ICD-11 draft description, 29 May 2016

Causes of Complex PTSD in the World Health Organization’s ICD-11 diagnostic manual now include child abuse, and prolonged domestic violence.

Not many people realize that the current ICD-10 has an equivalent diagnosis called Enduring Personality Change After Catastrophic Event, which is classed as in the ‘other personality disorders’ section. Complex PTSD will, of course, be in the same category as PTSD in the ICD-11, since it is not a personality disorder (and can exist alongside a personality disorder).

The description of Complex PTSD may change in the future, find the most recent description at

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5 thoughts on “Complex PTSD as an official diagnosis

    • That’s a good question. It means there should be improved recognition in the future, and I hope more people with Complex PTSD will get treatment appropriate to Complex PTSD, rather than being treated as having ‘simple’ PTSD (for example, short term Exposure Therapy is not addressing many of the symptoms in Complex PTSD, but does work for PTSD that isn’t Complex, e.g. from single events).
      I hope there will be far more resources and improved training for therapist as a result of the greater recognition, as well as more self-help books for people with it.
      The increasing research published since 2013 will hopefully see the next update of the DSM include Complex PTSD too.

      Currently some people with Complex PTSD are told they are ‘too unstable’ to begin therapy – but therapy for Complex PTSD begins with a considerable amount of time spent on helping the person to get stable, and become safer. I hope more professionals will begin to understand this and develop the extra skills needed to treat those with Complex PTSD.

      Complex PTSD has separate treatment guidelines which often aren’t followed – because all PTSD is judged as suitable for the same approach – hopefully this will change. Treatment guidelines are explained at

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Finally! – messedupinthehead 😜

  2. I’ve been so sad lately, and seeing this makes me SO HAPPY! At least for the time being. This is a GIANT step in the right direction! I know that it will still take a while for everything to be processed and put together in a way that works better for the people diagnosed with CPTSD, but at least it’s finally getting some of the recognition it deserves to help with clinical diagnosis! YAY!


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