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Dissociative Fugue Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

What is Dissociative Fugue?

Dissociative fugue, formerly fugue state or psychogenic fugue, is a DSM-5 Dissociative Disorder.

It is a rare psychiatric disorder characterized by reversible amnesia for personal identity, including the memories, personality, and other identifying characteristics of individuality.

The state is usually short-lived (ranging from hours to days), but can last months or longer.

Dissociative fugue usually involves unplanned travel or wandering, and is sometimes accompanied by the establishment of a new identity.

It is no longer its own classification or diagnosis as it was in the DSM-IV, but now a facet of Dissociative Amnesia according to the DSM-5.

Furthermore, after recovery from fugue, previous memories usually return intact, but there is typically amnesia for the fugue episode

Causes of Dissociative Fugue:

Dissociative fugue has been linked to severe stress, which might be the result of traumatic events that the person has experienced. Such events include:

  • War
  • Abuse
  • Accidents
  • Disasters
  • Extreme violence

Furthermore, the use or abuse of alcohol and certain drugs also can cause fugue-like states, such as alcohol-induced “blackouts.”

Symptoms of Dissociative Fugue:

The following symptoms may be exhibited by those suffering from dissociative fugue:

  • The predominant disturbance is sudden, unexpected travel away from home or one’s customary place of work, with inability to recall one’s past.
  • distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning
  • Mild confusion
  • possible depression
  • Grief
  • shame
  • discomfort
  • Suicidal impulses
  • post-fugue anger

Diagnosis of Dissociative Fugue:

Dissociative fugue is diagnosed via a doctor’s evaluation.

  • A doctor may suspect dissociative fugue when the affected individual seem confused about his/her identity or is puzzled about his/her past or when confrontations challenge the newly assumed identity or absence of one.
  • The doctor carefully reviews symptoms and does a physical examination to exclude physical disorders that may contribute to or cause memory loss.
  • An episode of fugue is not characterized as attributable to apsychiatric disorder if it can be related to:
  • the ingestion ofpsychotropic substances
  • to physical trauma
  • to a general medical condition
  • to other psychiatric conditions such as:
  • dissociative identity disorder
  • delirium
  • A psychological examination is done.

Sometimes dissociative fugue cannot be diagnosed until people abruptly return to their pre-fugue identity and are distressed to find themselves in unfamiliar circumstances.

The diagnosis is usually made retroactively when a doctor reviews the history and collects information that documents the circumstances before people left home, the travel itself, and the establishment of an alternative life.

Treatment of Dissociative Fugue:

The following treatment options are available:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Hypnosis, in order to help the patient remember the events of the fugue period
  • Drug facilitated interviews

By : Natural Health News

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