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Dissociative Fugue

Once called psychogenic fugue, dissociative fugue is a dissociative disorder that causes people to lose their sense of identity and wander away from work or home. It can be confusing for them and for others who don’t see any outward signs of mental illness – some people even create new identities to deal with the problem.

What Causes Dissociative Fugue?

Dissociative fugue is classified as a mental illness, one that happens when there is a breakdown in:

  • Memory function
  • Conscious awareness of self and surroundings
  • Identity
  • Perception of others and the world around them

Depending upon which system of processing information is disrupted, different dissociative symptoms may develop, according to WebMD.

Signs of Dissociative Fugue

If you’re concerned that someone close to you is living with dissociative fugue, it can be hard to identify – especially if it is not a family member whom you know well. Someone living in a fugue in progress will not show any outward signs that anything is out of the ordinary. However, some of the symptoms that may signify the disorder include:

  • An inability to talk about or recall information from the past, including personal stories of their life
  • Unexpected and unplanned trips that last for varying periods of time
  • Confusion about identity or how he got where he is
  • Confusion over performing day-to-day tasks when the episodes occur throughout the day

*Dissociative Fugue Is Rare

Diagnoses for dissociative fugue are few and far between, but tend to increase after a natural disaster and during wartime.

Treatment for Dissociative Fugue

The primary focus during treatment for dissociative fugue is to help the patient deal with the traumatic event or issue that caused him to experience fugue episodes in the first place. Additionally, the patient should also learn ways to identify a fugue episode as it is developing so they can deal with it effectively. Because treatment should be highly individualized, the experience at each session will vary according to the intensity and type of symptoms. However, treatment for dissociative fugue will likely include some or all of the following:

  • Medication. There is no medication that treats dissociative fugue but if the patient is also dealing with a co-occurring mental health disorder like depression or panic, then medication may be apart of the overall care program.
  • One-on-one therapy. Counseling with a trusted therapist can be the foundation for the entire treatment plan and help the patient begin to work through feelings caused by the traumatic event.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of therapy can help patients to change the behaviors and thought processes that are causing them problems.
  • Family therapy. If someone you love is living with dissociative fugue, you will need to learn about the disorder as well as your loved one’s individual experience with fugue episodes so you can better help them through it and mitigate the harm caused by these symptoms.
  • Hypnosis. For disorders that cause a loss of memory – like dissociative fugue – it may be appropriate to attempt hypnosis and extract memories lost to the patient’s conscious mind.
  • Alternative therapies. Art therapy, drama therapy, dance therapy, and music therapy as well as outdoors therapies, nutritional and wellness counseling, and other forms of alternative treatments can broaden the healing experience and increase one’s overall recovery.

Would you like to find a dissociative fugue treatment program that can help you or someone you love? Or do you need to learn more about the disorder to determine if you or someone you care about is living without the diagnosis they need to start healing? Contact us today to speak with a counselor who can help.

*Can Dissociative Fugue Be Treated Successfully?

There is no medication for the treatment of dissociative fugue and there is no cure. In some cases, the frequency of fugue episodes may start to diminish in time. Psychotherapy that addresses the underlying trauma or stress that initiated the fugue episodes is necessary to keep those episodes from coming back even if they start to go away on their own.