"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Mental Health: Dissociative Fugue

Dissociative fugue, formerly called psychogenic fugue, belongs to a bunch of disorders called dissociative disorders. The word Gap comes from the Latin word for “escape”. People with dissociative fugue temporarily lose their sense of private identity and impulsively leave their home or workplace. They are sometimes confused about who they’re and should even develop latest identities. Outwardly, individuals with this disorder don’t show any signs of illness, corresponding to strange appearance or strange behavior.

Dissociative disorders are mental illnesses that involve disturbances or breakdowns in memory, consciousness, identity and/or perception. If a number of of those functions are disrupted, symptoms may occur. These symptoms can affect an individual's overall functioning, including social and skilled activities and relationships.

A running fugue is usually difficult for others to acknowledge since the person's external behavior appears normal. Symptoms of dissociative fugue may include:

  • Sudden and unplanned trip away from home
  • Inability to recollect past events or essential information from the person's life
  • Confusion or lack of memory about their identity, possibly adopting a brand new identity to compensate for the loss
  • Extreme stress and problems with each day work (on account of the fugue episodes)

Dissociative fugue is related to severe stress, which would be the results of traumatic events—corresponding to war, abuse, accidents, disasters, or extreme violence—that the person has experienced or witnessed. Consumption or abuse of alcohol and certain drugs may also result in fugue-like conditions corresponding to alcohol-induced “blackouts.”

A dissociative fugue is comparatively rare. The frequency of dissociative fugue tends to extend during stressful or traumatic periods, corresponding to during war or after a natural disaster.

When symptoms of dissociative fugue are present, the doctor often begins the assessment by conducting a whole medical history and physical examination. Although there aren’t any laboratory tests to specifically diagnose dissociative disorders, the doctor may sometimes recommend various diagnostic tests corresponding to imaging studies, electroencephalograms (EEGs), and blood tests to rule out physical illnesses or medication unintended effects if these are suspected to be causing the symptoms. Certain medical conditions – including brain disorders (e.g. epilepsy), head injuries, drug and alcohol intoxication, and lack of sleep – may cause symptoms just like dissociative disorders, including amnesia (memory loss).

If no physical illness is identified, the person could also be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist, medical professionals specifically trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interviews and assessment tools to screen an individual for dissociative disorder.

The goal of treating dissociative fugue is to assist the person address the stress or trauma that triggered the fugue. Treatment also goals to develop latest coping methods to stop further fugue episodes. The best treatment approach will rely on the person and the severity of their symptoms, but will most certainly include a mixture of the next treatments:

  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, a type of counseling, is the most important treatment for dissociative disorders. This treatment uses techniques designed to advertise communication of conflicts and improve insight into problems. Cognitive therapy is a selected type of psychotherapy that focuses on changing dysfunctional thought patterns and resulting feelings and behaviors.
  • Medication: There aren’t any established medications to treat dissociative disorders themselves. However, if an individual with a dissociative disorder also suffers from depression or anxiety, treatment with medications corresponding to antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, or antipsychotics could possibly be useful.
  • Family therapy: This helps educate the family in regards to the disorder and its causes and helps members of the family recognize symptoms of reoccurrence.
  • Creative therapies (art therapy, music therapy): These therapies allow the patient to explore and express their thoughts and feelings in a secure and inventive way.
  • Clinical hypnosis: This is a treatment method that achieves an altered state of consciousness (consciousness) through intense leisure, concentration and focused attention, allowing people to explore thoughts, feelings and memories that they could have kept hidden from their awareness. The use of hypnosis to treat dissociative disorders is controversial due to risk of making false memories.

Most dissociative fugues are transient, lasting from lower than a day to several months. The disorder often goes away by itself. The prospects are subsequently quite good. However, without treatment to deal with the underlying problem, further fugue episodes may occur.

Although it is probably not possible to stop dissociative fugue, it could be helpful to start treatment as soon as symptoms appear. Additionally, rapid intervention after a traumatic event or emotionally distressing experience could help reduce the chance of developing dissociative disorders.