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Fugue state: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About fugue state

Fugue state also known as ‘dissociative fugue’ is a psychological disorder characterised by single or multiple episodes of sudden, unplanned disappearance of the individual from home. Such episodes are characterized by a confused state of mind of the affected individual and loss of memory of original whereabouts and identity.

Fugue state: Incidence, age and sex

Fugue state is an extremely rare psychological problem encountered in less than 1% of general population. It is usually seen in middle-aged and older adults with a history of a traumatic past.

Signs and symptoms of fugue state: Diagnosis

The fugue state is a psychologically abnormal state of mind wherein the affected individual may have a sudden loss of memory regarding his/her identity. Such an individual usually wanders away from the home and the workplace all of a sudden. Occasionally, such individuals may assume a new identity and start living in different surroundings. However this mental state resolves on it own after a few days or sometimes months. The affected individual may eventually come back to his/her original surroundings but usually does not recall what happened in the fugue state. He/she may feel confused and depressed after regaining the memory of the original identity.

A detailed psychological assessment may help in detecting this disorder. It is important to conduct a comprehensive physical examination to exclude any physical or organ disease. Sometimes it becomes difficult to find out whether the individual is honestly affected or is malingering.

Causes and prevention of fugue state

The exact cause of this disorder is not clear. However it is usually seen in individuals with a traumatic past like people at war, victims of natural disasters or sexual abuse in childhood. It may also be related to feelings of perceived threat or rejection. Such individuals are prone to this psychological disorder which may be triggered by some unbearable stress.

Fugue state: Complications

Fugue state is a highly complicated state of mind which may cause not only extreme distress but also intense despondency and depression in the affected individual. Not only the individual but also the family members are severely affected with the consequences of such mental state.

Fugue state: Treatment

The fugue state is self-limiting and generally resolves on its own in a matter of few days or weeks. Rarely, may it take months for the affected individual to regain his/her original memory and identity. The treatment modalities include psychotherapy and psychosocial therapy which may help most of the individuals in minimising episodes of fugue. Sometimes medications like anti-depressants or anti-anxiety drugs may be prescribed in some individuals who suffer from constant depression or anxiety.